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lous, on wheth and var
the actors come up to the ideas we form of the characters by having studied them in our closets."
“ Now look ye, friend," said the Nymph briskly, “ does not that proceed from a preconceived, or preadopted, opinion of some superior excellence in his delineation of character ? and yet, find me two critics who are agreed whether Hamlet is to be considered as serious, or half-mad, or pretending to be so ? Look how lame and impotent the conclusion of the plot is, compared to what was to be expected from the introduction of a prelude so solemn as the appearance of a ghost ! But I will not make a stand merely on the mechanical part of his dramas-the construction of the fable ;-some of his noblest passages are not superior to similar passages in the plays of his contemporaries. Take down his works, and give me those of Beaumont and Fletcher, and I will match you.”
Benedict, as all obedient husbands should do, when so required, to keep peace in the house, acquiesced ; and when the books were arranged before them, he opened Cymbeline, and said, “Here is a description of the military enthusiasm of a boy,-match it if you can."
" This Paladour (whom The king his father call’d Guiderius) Jove ! When on my three-foot stool I sit, and tell The warlike feats I've done, his spirits fly out Into my story : say thus mine enemy fell, And thus I set my foot on’s neck-even then The princely blood flows in his cheek, he sweats, Strains his young nerves, and puts himself in posture That acts my words.”—
“ Good," said Egeria, “ very good,” turning over the leaves of the Maid's Tragedy ; but here is Melantius' account of the heroic aspirations of Amintor while a boy, and it is better :”—
e “When he was a boy, As oft as I returned (as, without beast, I brought home conquest), be would gaze upon me, And view me round, to find in what one limb The virtue lay to do those things he heard ; Then would he wish to see my sword, and feel The quickness of the edge, and in his hand Weigh it.--He oft would make me smile at this; His youth did promise much, and his ripe years Will see it all performed.”
“ But,” exclaimed the Bachelor, opening As You like It, “ find me any thing half so touching and romantic as the moralizing of Jaques ???
“ To-day my lord of Amiens and myself
As worldl quoth Zing in the
Duke. But what sáid Jaques ?
1 Lord. Oh, yes, into a thousand similes :
“ I am quite as sensible as you can be," said · Egeria, “ to all the beauty of that passage; but it · is not so romantic as this in Philaster, --nor so poetical, nor withal more pathetic:"
“I have a boy . .
Which gave him roots, and of the crystal springs
• There is, however, nothing in all Beaumont and Fletcher,” said Benedict, “half so tender, innocent, and delicate as the answer of Julia, when disguised as a boy, on being asked how tall Julia was :"
“ About my stature; for at Pentecost,
“ In the Maid's Tragedy," replied Egeria, “ I have an allusion to the same story of Ariadne. Aspatia, forsaken by her lover, finds her maid Antiphila working a picture of Ariadne, and says,"— .“ But where's the lady?
Ant. There, madam.
* Asp. Fy, you have miss'd it here, Antiphila,.
“ But,” resumed Egeria, - if we go on at this rate, the night will not suffice for our comparison ; I shall therefore give you a few hints of which hereafter you may chew the cud. Compare the frenzy and the whole gentle character of the Jailer's Daughter in the Two Noble Kinsmen to Ophelia in Hamlet,—say which is the best. Look also at the deaths of Pontius and Aëcius in Valentinian: I uphold them against the deaths of Cassius, Brutus, and their friends, in Julius Cæsar. Is the character and passions of Cleopatra in the False One inferior to Shakspeare's serpent of old Nile ? Not a jot. Is the pious and grief-mingled rage of Edith, in the Bloody Brother, less skilfully conceived, or less powerfully executed, than the passion of Macduff on hearing of the massacre of his wife and children? Is there any personage in all Shakspeare to compare with