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heart a deeper reverence for the memory of William Shakespeare, or giving to a single reader a fairer idea of his extraordinary superiority over all other poets, ancient as well as modern, the author will not have written in vain.
LONDON, January 26th, 1857.
“ Truth may perhaps come to the price of a pearl, that showeth best by day; hut it will not rise to the price of a diamond or car. buncle, that showeth best in varied lights. A mixture of a lie doth ever add pleasure. Doth any man doubt, that if there were taken out of men's minds, vain opinions, flattering hopes, false valuations, imaginations, as one would, and the like, but it would leave the minds of a number of men poor shrunken things, full of melancholy and indisposition, and unpleasing to themselves ? One of the fathers, in great severity, called poesy vinum dæmonum, because it filleth the imagination, and yet it is but with the shadow of a lie. But it is not the lie that passeth through the mind, but the lie that sinketh in and settleth in it, that doth the hurt, such as we spake of before. But howsoever these things are thus in men's depraved judgments and affections, yet truth, which only doth judge itself, teacheth that tbe inquiry of truth, which is the love-making, or wooing of it—the knowledge of truth, which is the presence of it—and the belief of truth, which is the enjoying of it—is the sovereign good of human nature,”- FRANCIS Bacon.
THE NATURE OF THE CHARGE.
Or what do those which get, and cannot keep?
SIR JOHN DAVIES. “ASSUREDLY that criticism of Shakespeare will alone be genial which is reverential. An Englishman, who without reverence-a proud and affectionate reverence-can utter the name of William Shakespeare, stands disqualified for the office of critic.” Such are the words of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, one of the most learned and acute of Shakesperian students and commentators; while “ Shakespeare is a vile impostor," is the cry of the latest luminary of the age.
To the eternal disgrace of English literature,- if the effusion to which we refer can be classed amongst its productions,—a pamphlet has recently appeared, in every way calculated “to fright the isle from its propriety.” It contains charges against the two most illustrious names upon our list of authors, which, if proven, must cover their names with infamy of the deepest dye, and consign their memories to eternal execration. The accusations are made by one William Henry Smith, * with
* Throughout this vindication of our immortal bard we have been out, as we shall see in the course of this investigation, one shadow of proof; and for such an offender there can be neither consideration nor respect. On light and unjustifiable grounds, seduced, as it would appear, by the reveries of a disordered fancy, he has brought grave charges against William Shakespeare and Francis Bacon, which he has not attempted to establish by one particle of evidence. The desire of notoriety, not of honourable distinction, has become quite a passion with many of the new lights of the age ; and we presume that the aspirant for literary honours, whose wanton onslaught upon the memory of Shakespeare must excite the indignation of all that great man's affectionate admirers, cares little by what means he obtains his end, or gratifies his uneasy ambition.
In the rambling sentences in which his accusations are couched, he certainly does hint at proofs ; but in any case Mr. William Henry Smith has acted unfairly both towards the mighty dead whom he maligns, and the British public which he would delude. Even if he were in possession of proofs to substantiate his grave charges, these ought most decidedly to have been produced, when the charges were made ; and if he can adduce nothing but his own disordered fancies to support his theories, they should never have been given to the world. The fame of the illustrious dead is the most precious memorial of the past ; it is not only the source of all our glory, but it is the fountain of future greatness, and acts as an incentive to others, impelling them to the performance of noble and heroic actions. Yet this sacred heirlooın is not secure from the attacks of those who, to speak most charitably of their conduct, can have but a feeble notion of its real importance.
The author of the present defence of Shakespearevery careful to give this purblind critic's name in full. It is fit that the public should know which member of the large family of the Smiths it is that has stepped out of his legitimate sphere to assail the character of William Shakespeare.