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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
Did steal behind him, as he lay along
Under an oak, whose antique root peeps out
Upon the brook that brawls along this wood;
To the which place a poor sequestered stag,
That from the hunter's aim had ta’en a hurt,
Did come to languish ; and indeed, my lord,
The wretched animal heaved forth such groans,
That their discharge did stretch his leathern coat
Almost to bursting ; and the big round tears
Coursed one another down his innocent nose
In piteous chase; and thus the hairy fool,
Much marked of the melancholy Jaques,
Stood on th' extremest verge of the swift brook,
Augmenting it with tears.

As worldl quoth Zing in the

Duke. But what sáid Jaques ?
Did he not moralize this spectacle?

1 Lord. Oh, yes, into a thousand similes :
First, for his weeping in the needless stream ;
Poor deer, quoth he, thou mak’st a testament
As worldlings do, giving thy sum of more
To that which had too much; then being alone,
Left and abandon’d of his velvet friends :
'Tis right, quoth he, thus misery doth part
The flux of company: Anon a careless herd,
Full of the pasture, jumps along by him,
And never stays to greet him : Ay, quoth Jaques,
Sweep on, ye fat and greasy citizens,
'Tis just the fashion," &c.

“ 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 . .
Sent by the gods I hope to this intent,
Not yet seen in the court. Hunting the buck
I found him sitting by a fountain-side,
Of which he borrowed some to quench his thirst,
And paid the nymph again as much in tears ;
A garland lay by him, made by himself
Of many several flowers, bred in the bay,
Stuck in that mystic order that the rareness
Delighted me: but ever when he turn'd
His tender eyes upon them, he would weep,
As if he meant to make them grow again.
Seeing such pretty helpless innocence
Dwell in his face, I ask'd him all his story;
He told me, that his parents gentle died,
Leaving him to the mercy of the fields, .

Which gave him roots, and of the crystal springs
Which did not stop their courses; and the sun
Which still, he thank'd him, yielded him his light.
Then took he up his garland, and did shew,
What every flower, as country people hold,
Did signify; and how all, order'd thus,
Express’d his grief; and to my thoughts did read
The prettiest lecture of his country art
That could be wish'd, so that methought I could
Have studied it.” . ..

• 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,
When all our pageants of delight were play'd,
Our youth got me to play the woman's part,
And I was trimm'd in madam Julia's gown.
And at that time I made her weep a-good,
For I did play a lamentable part.
Madam, 'twas Ariadne passioning
For Theseus' perjury and unjust flight;
Which I so lively acted with my tears,
That my poor mistress, moved therewithal,
Wept bitterly, and would I might be dead,
If I in thought felt not her very sorrow.”

“ 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,.
These colours are not dull and pale enough,
To shew a soul so full of misery
As this sad lady's was; do it by me;
Do it again by me, the lost Aspatia,
And you shall find all true.--Put me on th' wild island.
I stand upon the sea-beach now, and think
Mine arms thus, and mine hair blown by the wind,
Wild as that desert, and let all about me
Be teachers of my story : do my face
(If thou hadst ever feeling of a sorrow),
Thus, thus, Antiphila; strive to make me look
Like Sorrow's monument; and the trees about me
Let them be dry and leafless; let the rocks in
Groan with continual surges, and behind me.'.
Make all a desolation; see, see, wenches,
A miserable life of this poor picture.”

“ 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

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