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with which he beheld the grovelling superstition of his time:

Look, how the world's poor people are amazed
At apparitions, signs and prodigies,
Whereon with fearful eyes they long have gazed,

Infusing them with dreadful prophecies. Later in life, when his philosophy had gained more consistency, and his contempt become more robust, he ventured on a plainer style of speaking, though he still considered it politic to put forth his opinion through a character whose teaching he might disclaim :

This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in fortune,-often the surfeit of our own behaviour,-we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars : as if we were villains by necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion ; knaves, thieves, and treachers, by spherical predominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers, by an enforced obedience of planetary in. fluence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on.

Shakespeare clearly means us to accept this as implying a refutation of all he may ever have said in favour of fatality. The speaker, conscious that he must take the responsibility of his deeds, so that he can triumph on this bank and shoal of time,' resolves, like Macbeth, to jump the life to come. The course of action he has traced out for himself appears so brilliant, as seen through the eyes of ambition, that he burns to obliterate from bis mind all distinction between good and evil, though he scoffs at the popular persuasion that man is what he is by a divine thrusting on. Tut!' he exclaims scornfully, 'I should have been that I am, had the maidenliest star in the firmament twinkled on my bastardizing.'

Euripides intimates by the lips of Jocasta his dissent from the form which belief in fate had assumed

among the tragic poets his predecessors. He had probably discussed this question with Socrates, who is thought to have aided him in the composition of his plays, and if so his influence may be surely supposed to have chiefly exerted itself in giving a loftier character to his philosophy. In his scheme of thought, Pepromene holds back her iron hand, till man invites her to begin the process which Shakespeare denominates a divine thrusting on.

Laius consulting the oracle at Delphi respecting his childless state is warned by the god not to desire children, since, if he should have a son, that son would be his murderer. Having set the oracle at nought, & son is born to him, and all the crimes and sorrows of the house of Labdacus ensue. Here man is made the arbiter of his own destiny; the turning-point in the stream of events is placed before him ; everything is left to depend on an act of his will; he may be happy with one drawback; but, if not content to abide by the award of heaven, the consequences of his selfindulgence will be strictly visited on him and his offspring

Some faint shadow of the same theory is discoverable in Shakespeare, where, as in Euripides, the doctrine is put forward by a woman. Her language, however, is not a little enigmatical :

Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie,
Which we ascribe to heaven: the fated sky
Gives us free scope, only doth backward pull
Our slow designs when we ourselves are dull.




THOUGH Shakespeare, however, like Euripides, may suggest a seeming solution of the great problem, he cannot escape from the subtle entanglements of Pepromene. In his plays, as in the world, men act in obedience to the promptings of their inclinations, their dispositions, their characters, and the decisions of their intellect. But a man's disposition, for example, is not of his own making. It is transmitted to him, partly through the same process as his life, partly through the air he breathes, the climate he inhabits, the water he drinks, the food he eats, and the human beings by whom his opening mind is enlightened or obscured. The mingling of the elements in us, which the Greeks expressed by the word 'crasis,'can obviously in no way be influenced by our own will, and yet out of this spring our passions, our desires, our particular hopes and fears, and that modification of our nature which I have spoken of above as our disposition. Shakespeare when considering these things, sometimes by themselves, sometimes in connexion with the physical laws of external nature, is so deeply perplexed that he falls into a wilderness of paradoxes, if not of contradictions. Hamlet is the exponent of one class of his

speculations : Iago, Edmund, Richard, Macbeth, interpret other parts of his philosophy; while the Duke in Measure for Measure,' and the friar in Romeo and Juliet,' give expression to thoughts or fancies which would hardly have suited the utterance of speakers so iniquitous and turbulent. Raleigh and Bacon, with many of their contemporaries, looked with a kind of mystical awe on the surface of our planet, in which they rightly judged effects and resources lie concealed which may exercise and perhaps elude the sagacity of


To the last syllable of recorded time.

Shakespeare's friar is a devout adept in this department of philosophy. We make his acquaintance under pleasant auspices. He is faring forth from his cell, basket in hand, at the earliest break of dawn to cull herbs and flowers while all their virtues were supposed to be enhanced by being steeped in dew:

The grey-eyed morn smiles on the frowning night,
Chequering the eastern clouds with streaks of light,
And flecked darkness like a drunkard reels
From forth day's path and Titan's fiery wheels.

The fresh morning air seems to breathe about us as we read, and the speaker is thenceforward invested with our sympathies for ever; we feel that he is to play an important part in the strange drama, by the influence of which he is absorbed. He talks as if he held himself aloof from secular pursuits and passionate interests, but is immediately swept into the current, and borne along by it irresistibly, till it is swallowed up by death. Meanwhile almost every word he utters is suggestive of strange positions and conclusions, many of them of high import in Shakespeare's philosophy. Let us listen to his own poetical exegesis of his system, many parts of which challenge objection, though at every step awakening thought :

Now, ere the sun advance his burning eye,
The day to cheer and night's dank dew to dry,
I must up-fill this osier cage of ours
With baleful weeds and precious-juiced flowers.
The earth that's nature's mother is her tomb;
What is her burying grave that is her womb,
And from her womb children of divers kind
We sucking on her natural bosom find,
Many for many virtues excellent,
None but for some and yet all different.
0, mickle is the powerful grace that lies
In herbs, plants, stones, and their true qualities :
For nought so vile that on the earth doth live
But to the earth some special good doth give,
Nor aught so good but strain'd from that fair use
Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse :
Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied;
And vice sometimes by action dignified.
Within the infant rind of this small flower
Poison hath residence and medicine power:
For this, being smelt, with that part cheers each part;
Being tasted, slays all senses with the heart.
Two such opposed kings encamp them still
In man as well as herbs, grace and rude will;
And where the worser is predominant,
Full soon the canker death eats up that plant.

In the early mythology of Hellas the earth, identified with nature and impregnated by the divine intellect, is represented as the mother of all things. Her image in the Ephesian temple was that of a woman with numerous breasts, which suggested to Shakespeare his beautiful description of the universal mother. He understood the mythology, however, in a too restricted sense, since even assuming the earth

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