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Hip. Sure 'tis to dream a sort of breathless sleep,
What is the soul ?
Dor. Then I have seen it of a frosty morning
Hip. But, dear Dorinda,
Dor. Oh! I can tell you joyful news of him :
Hip. That must not be,
Dor. But if he live, he 'U ne'er leave killing you.
John Philip Kemble possibly was a scholar and a gentleman-but he did not behave like a gentleman to Shakespeare, and he was not a Shakesperian scholar.
At the end of the Taming of the Shrew, Johnson remarks :-“From this play The Tatler formed a story,” vol. iv. No. 131. After narrating the story as it appears in the Tatler, he adds :-“It cannot but seem strange that Shakespeare should be so little known to the author of the Tatler, that he shoud suffer the Story to be obtruded upon him, or so little known to the publick, that he should hope to make it pass upon his readers as a novel narrative of a transaction in Lincolnshire; yet it is 'apparent that he was deceived, or intended to deceive, that he knew not himself whence the story was taken, or hoped he might rob so obscure a writer without detection.”
We might multiply instances proving how this author has been travestied or ignored by those who profess to idolise him. But having shown how the great poet Tate, the great actor Kemble, and the great essayist Steele, treated him,-we may well leave it to the reader to conclude how he has been used by lesser men.
AN EPITOME OF WHAT HAS GONE
It would be a new, though certainly a very promising feature in Shakesperian inquiry and discussion, that the evidence adduced should be required to have some little bearing upon the point sought to be established.
Critics have debated the period at which Shakespeare left school, without stopping to inquire when he went there : the existence of a free school at Stratford being abundant proof that he must have been a scholar at it; the existence of a hostelrie at Stratford, would be as good proof that he was a drunkard. The lines,
There's a divinity doth shape our ends,
Rough hew them as we will, because skewers are made of rough wood, and shaped or pointed at the ends, are assumed to prove that Shakespeare's father was a butcher.
His journeys to Italy and Scotland are supported by evidence of a similar kind.
And Mr. Charles Butler claims him as eminent Roman Catholic upon negative evidence, which would just as well entitle him to be considered a Mahometan; therefore it is not for editors, critics, and commentators who are versed in Shakesperian lore, to object that the evidence is not conclusive, or the argument not logical.
Not being worst, Stands in some rank of praise ; With such desultory discourse, volumes might be filled; and it would be agreeable to our humour so to do, for it is a subject upon which we love to dilate. We must, however, put some restriction upon ourselves, out of regard to our readers. And supposing them to have arrived at this point, we will make a little chart of the wilderness which they have passed through, and what we wished them to learn in their wanderings.
Had we accompanied them, we should have pointed out, that very little indeed is known of the History of Shakespeare, and that that little in no way connects him with these Plays—that the writer of them must have possessed a vast variety of talents, such as have been reported to have been found in Francis Bacon, and in him alone; that the wit and poetry are of a kind which was peculiarly his—that William Shakespeare of Stratfordupon-Avon connected himself with a class which had only recently sprung into existence, and which were held in the utmost contempt that he was neither eminent as an actor, nor as a writer, during his lifetime, nor celebrated as such in the period immediately succeeding his death-that there are some remarkable coincidences of expression in these plays and in the writings of Bacon, and that the latter was ever careful to note anything like a quotation--that the theatre with which Shake. speare was connected was the Public Theatre the lowest place at which dramatic entertainments were then representedthat literary labour was not at that time ordinarily pursued for pecuniary recompense, and the few that followed such an occupation were regarded with the utmost contempt —that a play was hardly considered a literary work, and ranked infinitely below a sonnet, and that learned men would as little have prided themselves upon writing one, as upon uttering a bon mot—that the first collection of plays that assumed anything like the appearance of a literary work was Ben Jonson's splendid folio--that it was