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ERRATA.

Vol. I. Page 61, line 29, for "Skakespeare", read "Shakespeare".

79, lines 17 and 29, for "Lilly”, read " Lily”.
99, line 25, for "inF ord's”, read "in Ford's”.
300, line 29, for "there fore”, read "therefore”.
321, line 1li, for ' farra ther”, read " far rather”.
653, line 23, for "renevation”, read "renovation”.

Vol. II. Page 129, line 7, for "habit have become a”, reud "hare

become a habit”.

THIRD PERIOD OF SHAKESPEARE'S

DRAMATIC POETRY.

We have been able to become acquainted with our poet, at least in isolated features of his life, during the first and second periods of his poetical career; for the second some precious documents were given us which let us cast a glance upon the history of his soul. Of the third epoch of his life we know scarcely anything. We learn from time to time something of his financial affairs and circumstances, of purchasing and selling, which exhibit him constantly as a man of wealth and comfort. The most important public event which occurred in this latter period of his life, was the death of Elizabeth, the accession of James I., and the union of the three kingdoms. Shakespeare celebrated these changes in his Macbeth (1605), in which besides the skilful interweaving of the Stuarts and the patriotic salutation to the first king who carried "two-fold balls and treble sceptres”, a flattering reference to the Scottish dynasty was implied in the subject itself. Schlegel justly compares the ingenious and at the same time artistically independent

manner, in which this drama is formed into an occasional poem, with Sophocles' praise of Athens and Æschylus' glorification of the Areopagus in the Eumenides. Shakespeare celebrates in Macbeth an ancient obligation of Scotland to England, who at that time freed the Scottish throne from the tyrant, and established the lawful king together with milder customs; and this old debt Scotland now paid off, when she gave a king to the empty throne of the Tudors, who maintained the peace which Elizabeth had planted, and brought in a love of art and learning. Shakespeare himself is supposed to have written an epigram, still extant, which extols James for his knowledge; and according to another tradition, the king, who from more than one testimony loved to see the pieces of our poet, wrote him a kind letter in his own hand. At any rate Shakespeare's honourable position and estimation continued under this king. From some knowledge of localities in Macbeth, it has been concluded that he had personally visited Scotland. A division of his company under Laurence Fletcher, probably an elder brother of the poet, was in Scotland from 1599 to 1601, but Shakespeare at the very time was so active in writing for the London stage, that his presence in Scotland is little probable. Immediately upon his arrival in London, James took the Shakespeare company into his pay and patronage, and called them the royal servants; the patent specifies nine players, among whom Fletcher stands at the head, and Shakespeare occupies the second and Burbadge the third place. The document grants the company their former liberty to play throughout the kingdom, and secures to them protection from all damage, and all the courtesies which formerly fell to the lot of people of their place and quality.

We have seen how at the close of the 16th century, Shakespeare was occupied with indescribable activity, and was seized with an overweening desire for satisfying his creative genius. The cheerfulness, the assurance, the copiousness, with which we saw him work at the close of the second period, continued in the first few years of the third, or rather increased. In the six years which elapsed between 1598 and 1603, Shakespeare wrote on the average at least two plays a year. Subsequently his works become more scanty ; from the years 1604 to 1612 there is

average only one play a year, and this alone contradicts the notice of Ward, that Shakespeare in his older days, when he lived at Stratford, furnished two pieces annually for the stage. It is much more probable, that from the year 1612, when the poet took up his abode in Stratford , he not only sought to free himself from his outward connection with the stage, but also concluded his dramatic and poetical

on the

career.

Looking over Shakespeare's dramas of the third period 'in comparison with those of the second, the most striking difference is, as we before intimated, that from the beginning of the new century the tragedy and the serious tragic drama extraordinarily predominate. Previous to 1600, if we set aside the seven pieces of the first period, there are twelve comedies and merry plays to four real tragedies; but after the group of comedies last discussed there now follow eight tragedies of the gravest purport, and really no more comedies. For the dramas (Cymbeline, Measure for Measure, the Tempest, and the Winter's Tale,) have all more or less a tragic colouring, and even in Troilus and Cressida, the seriousness and thoughtfulness of the poet in his work

prevent a sensation of mirth; the merry humourists, the comical female characters, the shallow figures of his romantic comedies, wholly cease from this time. If we have found the poet occupied in the pieces of the second period with those reflections upon the contrast of outward show and inward reality, of the actual and the conventional worth of things, a theme capable of the most manifold poetical representation, another system of thought of a character throughout serious, elegiac, and tragic, appears predominant in a great series of the creations of the last period; in their matter we see a new moral relation in the foreground, which returns ever and again under various modifications, and seems to chain the poet's reflection and consideration with the same interest as the previous subject in the works of the middle period. The unnatural dissolving of natural bonds, oppression, falsehood, treachery and ingratitude towards benefactors, friends, and relatives, towards those to whom the most sacred duties should be dedicated, this is the new tragical conception, which now most powerfully and profoundly occupies the poet in the most various works of this epoch of his life. Thus in Julius Cæsar, Brutus' defection is represented as an act of faithlessness and ingratitude, which the spirit of the murdered friend resents and retaliates. In Henry VIII., Wolsey's self-seeking plans, in opposition to his royal patron, express a like thankless faithlessness. Macbeth's treason towards his benefactor Duncan displays the same ingratitude in a still higher degree. And as in Lear, this ingratitude and faithlessness advance by gradual progress, through friends, princes, benefactors, and relations, to the highest pitch of vice, in the profligate alienation of children from their

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