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served" almost equalled his model. But the two most truly tragical situations ever conceived by men, were first portrayed by Shakspeare:-madness caused by misfortune, and misfortune abandoned to solitude and itself.

Ajax is furious; Orestes is pursued by the anger of the gods; Phaedra is consumed by the fever of love; but Hamlet, Ophelia, and King Lear, with different situations and different characters, have all, nevertheless, the same marks of derangement: it is distress alone that speaks in them; every idea of common life disappears before this predominant one: they are alive to nothing but affection; and this affecting delirium of a suffering object seems to set it free from that timidity which forbids us to expose ourselves without reserve to the eyes of pity. The spectators would perhaps refuse their sympathy to voluntary complaints; but they readily yield to the emotion which arises from a grief that cannot answer for itself.-Insanity, as portrayed by Shakspeare, is the finest picture of the shipwreck of moral nature, when the storm of life surpasses its strength.

MADAME DE STAEL HOLSTEIN."

proached the style of Shakspeare. Had they such an object in view, which I do not believe, they must be pronounced to have egregiously failed.

Influence of Literature upon Society. Translated from the French of Madame De Stael Holstein. Second edition. In 2 vols. London: printed for Henry Colburn. Vol. 1. p. 288 to p. 305.

No. VII.

ON SHAKSPEARE, AND ON THE CHARACTER
OF HIS COMEDIES.

AMONGST English comic writers, Shakspeare must occupy not only the first, but the highest place. His dramas, after a lapse of two centuries, are still gazed at with unabated ardour by the populace, are still read with admiration by the scholar. They interest the old and the young, the gallery and the pit, the people and the critic. At their representation appetite is never palled, expectation never disappointed. The changes of fashion have not cast him into shade, the variations of language have not rendered him obsolete. His plots are lively, and command attention; his characters are still new and striking; and his wit is fertile even to exuberance. Perhaps there never was a drama which so happily combined tender sentiment with comic force as As You Like It; there is scarcely a character in it which fails to interest. Adam and Jaques are truly original; and even the buffoonery of the clown is of a superior cast. In the Merchant of Venice the unity of action is somewhat violated by a double plot, but perhaps two plots were never so happily combined as in this play; and the one rises so naturally out of the other, that not the smallest confusion is pro

duced. The comic scenes pleasantly relieve the mind from the effect produced by the serious. The conclusion is unexpected, and the effect of the whole is truly happy. Gratiano appears to me a character which Shakspeare only could have penned; though, from the little interest which he has in the plot, he is less noticed than he would have been for his sportive wit, had he been of more importance to the main action. Perhaps the Merry Wives of Windsor is one of the most regular of Shakspeare's comedies; and I scarcely know a play that comes more completely under that description. The principal character, Falstaff, is, however, scarcely so well depicted as in Henry the Fourth. In the scenes with the Prince, when debauchery and cheating are the themes, the old knight seems more in his proper element than in his rencounter with ladies. Much Ado About Nothing, though the subject in some measure justifies the title, is yet abundant in wit and pleasantry; and Measure for Measure and the Twelfth Night are truly interesting. The Winter's Tale is the most irregular of our author's comedies: there the unity of time is indeed violated beyond all bounds; yet it contains some exquisite strokes of nature and poetry, and many pleasant playful scenes. Of the Midsummer-Night's Dream it is difficult to judge by any of the rules of criticism; it is in every point of view a most extraordinary piece, and I confess I should like to see it well performed. The scenes between Bottom, Quince,

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and their company of players, are exquisitely humorous.

GREGORY."

Letters on Literature, Taste, and Composition, vol. 2. p. 252 et seq. It would be difficult to compress into a shorter compass a more eloquent and just description of the influence of the dramas of Shakspeare on all ranks and ages, than what the opening of this number affords us.

No. VIII.

ON THE FAME AND ACQUIREMENTS OF
SHAKSPEARE.

SHAKSPEARE is the pride of his nation. A late poet has, with propriety, called him the genius of the British isles. He was the idol of his contemporaries; and after the interval of puritanical fanaticism which commenced in a succeeding age, and put an end to every thing like liberal knowledge; after the reign of Charles the Second, during which his works were either not acted, or very much disfigured, his fame began to revive with more than its original brightness towards the beginning of the last century; and since that period it has increased with the progress of time, and for centuries to come,-I speak with the greatest confidence, it will continue to gather strength, like an Alpine avalanche, at every period of its descent. As an important earnest of the future extension of his fame, we may allude to the enthusiasm with which he was naturalised in Germany the moment that he was known. The language, and the impossibility of translating him with fidelity, will be for ever, perhaps, an invincible obstacle to his general diffusion in the South of Europe. In

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This impossibility extends also to France; for it must not be supposed that a literal translation can ever be a faithful one.

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