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Besides his plays, a small volume of Shakspeare's miscellaneous poems has been collected; the chief among which are • Venus and Adonis,' and · Tarquin and Lucrece. This book, though altogether inferior in character and beauties to his other works, yet, can seldom be read without pleasure, or spoken of without praise.
The character of Shakspeare and his writings has always deservedly been, and always must remain, pre-eminently exalted. He is not only the finest tragic poet England has ever produced, but the most original genius the world has ever beheld. He could not borrow from any other language, antiềnt or modern, for he was only conversant with his mother tongue; and, far from imitating the few crude examples he had in his own country, he raised a model of truth and nature, to which no time or place has hitherto apportioned an equal. Nothing in the history of the human mind can be compared to the rude darkness of the stage, when Shakspeare first trod it, and the unquenchable brightness he shed around its scenes before he left its boards. It is also curious to mention, that he never blotted a line, nor inserted an amendment; it was with his mind, as with his manners; he overlooked his vices in the ungovernable conviction of his virtues. His mind was sublime and overreaching ; his fancy brilliant and inexhaustible; his expression infinite. If but little versed in human learning, he was the deeper skilled in the source of every knowledge-nature! All he did know, he had taught himself, and thus was the master of his own powers.
the student of Shakspeare's life and writings observe, in the homely terms of an old panegyrist :
-his works are such As neither man or Muse can praise too much :-
or exclaim more emphatically, in his own melancholy words
“We ne'er shall look upon his like again!"
GRANVILLE SHARP has been deservedly honoured with multiplied memorials of gratitude and honour, as the father of many principles, which have elevated the character of modern liberty to an unprecedented chastity of feeling. His family has attained distinction in the established Church : his father, Dr. Thomas Sharp, was a Prebendary of Durham; and his great grandfather, Dr. J. Sharp, was Archbishop of York. Granville was born at Durham, during the year 1734, and received the rudiments of education at the grammar-school of that city. In the spring of 1750 he arrived in London, and was bound apprentice to a linen-draper on Great Tower Hill; but, after a service of three years, his master, one Halsey, died, and he changed his station once or twice, in consequence of some conflicting judgments in the Lord Mayor's Court, upon the subject of the remaining period of his apprenticeship, which was concluded in the factory of Bourke and Co., Irish merchants, in Cheapside. His first master was a Quaker ; his second, an Independent; the Irishmen were Catholics ; and some other person with whom he lived,'appeared, according to Mr. Sharp's report, to have no religion at all. This experience, he was afterwards accustomed to say, early taught him to make proper distinctions between the religious opinions of men and their actions.
Sharp was a controversialist, even in his boyhood : he carried on disquisitions with singular freedom and spirit, not only with the different masters under whom he lived, but with the domestics in their several establishments. In order to prosecute this warfare with success, he read much, and in the issue became as remarkable for his learning as his philanthropy. Thus a dispute with a
Unitarian who quoted Greek, determined him to study that language; and soon after, an altercation with a Jew encouraged him to become a master of Hebrew, on which tongue, as connected with the interpretation of the Pentateuch, he has publihed some critical pamphlets.
In 1757, the demise of his mother put him in possession of some ready money, and the interest of his family procured a subordinate situation for him in the Ordnance Office. It was under circumstances humble as these that his attention was first directed to a question which ultimately struck the chains of slavery from the limbs of millions, and wiped one of the most disgraceful uncertainties from the books of English law. This, too, was the noble achievement of an individual as nearly powerless as he was private. Passing through the streets of London, Granville Sharpe was one day struck with the miserable figure of a negro, trembling with want and sickness, and scarcely strong enough to beg for charity from the crowded passengers. Moved by the picture of misery, he stopped to enquire the poor fellow's story, and heard that he was a slave from Virginia, abandoned by the master who brought him to this country, because the change of climate had destroyed his health, and rendered him unequal to labour. The man's name was Somerset: being conveyed to Bartholomew's Hospital, he was there attended through the wants of his sickness, and upon his recovery provided with a decent situation, by the attention of Mr. Sharp.
But the labours of charity only made the slave again valuable to his inhuman master, who seized upon him as his property, and had him committed to prison as a runaway. The negro in this distress applied to his former benefactor, who immediately resorted to the Lord Mayor; and the consequence of the investigation between the parties, at the Mansion-House, was a declaration from his lordship that Somerset was free. But the master was still bent on his purpose; he seized the slave by the collar, and impudently forced him towards his ship, declaring that he would sail without delay. Mr. Sharp was not remiss in claiming the protection of the law for the injuries of the sufferer : he prosecuted the master for an assault, and brought the slave by a writ of Habeas Corpus before the twelve judges, who after repeated hearings, and various sittings, at last solemnly and
unanimously declared, on the 7th of February, 1772, that "the power of slavery was in England acknowledged by no law, and can never be supported;" on the contrary, " that as soon as any slave sets his foot upon British ground, he is free !” The merit of this intrepid perseverance and firm benevolence could not fail to excite the deepest impressions. From this moment slavery became the unceasing object of Sharp's honourable enmity; and every act that could enlarge the principles of universal freedom, the passion of his studies. With these feelings he published his tract, entitled 'A Representation of the Injustice of Slavery in 1779,' and soon after collected a number of the deserted negroes, who were then begging about the purlieus of London, sent them back to Africa, and thus led to the establishment of our colony at Sierra Leone. Two institutions of the most laudable nature, and important services, resulted from these exertions: The Society in opposition to the Slave Trade,' was founded in 1787, and Granville Sharp being father of the cause was elected Chairman of the Committee. Some years afterwards the African Institution was established, and Mr. Sharp was chosen a director.
From this series of prosperity it is necessary to revert a little for the purpose of stating, that at the commencement of our unfortunate struggle with the Independence of the American States, Sharp resigned his post in the Ordnance rather than be concerned, even in that distant capacity, either with any men, or any measures, that might tend to depress the cause of freedom throughout the world. This act, under existing circumstances, was in him one of peculiar devotion ; for the expenses of his repeated suits at law, in the case of Somerset, had nearly exhausted his personal fortune; and almost his only prospects of competence lay in the emoluments of his office." These, however, he had the spirit not to admit into competition with his principles, and the protector of the helpless stood forward before the world in want of assistance himself. For many years after this event, he was necessitated to live with his brothers, who entertained him with infinite cordiality and affection.
In 1780, he was left a small legacy by a female relation ; and this second beginning of independence was in the course of a few years augmented by the bequests made to him on some other
deaths in his family. Amongst those he had to regret was a brother, whose business he managed for the widow during a term of six years; after which, the concern was advantageously disposed of. He then took up his residence in the Temple, and devoted himself, without any interruption, to a life of deep study and active philanthropy. In this character he acquired the highest reputation ; be proved himself an able linguist, profoundly read in divinity, and critically acquainted with the languages in which the different portions of the Scripture were originally written. His
way of living in other respects may be judged of by the representation of his friends, who state, that in his actions severely moral, and in his 'habits strictly temperate, he was sprightly in .conversation, exquisitely fond of music, and much attached to polite society.
But, notwithstanding the decided merits of this eulogy, a line of conduct and a narrowness of mind remain to be noticed, by which, in the opinion of many, Mr. Sharp has blemished the general purity of his life with the red stain of bigotry. In the many warm services he had rendered to the various Bible Societies, he had occasionally betrayed a want of that universal toleration in religious matters, which he so ardently strove to extend to all civil concerns. But a period arrived, when he gave a more decided proof of this inconsistency : liberal and just as he would be to the human body, he at last declared, that he would make up for the licence by the severity with which he would restrain the human mind and conscience. With these feelings, when the ruffianly cry of No Popery revived the tumult of old alarms in the year 1813, Mr. Sharp forgot the unreserved generosity of his general views, and headed that worst of all factions, a religious faction, and, on the 7th of July, became chairman of the Protestestant Union. Certain it is, that the nature and circumstances of his education and connexion strongly attached him to the theological doctrines of the established church of England; but this part might well have been preserved, without either detriment to the sincerity of his belief, or the zeal of his devotion, by shunning all vicious contact with party, who, though they only professed exclusion, yet really involved, in the manners and maxims of their pursuit, all the terrors of persecution. Charity is the gentle mother of toleration; and no religion, however benevolent