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pp. 12, 13.
the most graceful and beautiful of them ;-but it was a common and a noble brood. He was not something sacred and aloof from the vulgar herd of men, but shook hands with Nature and the circumstances of the time, and is distinguished from his immediate contemporaries, not in kind, but in degree, and greater variety of excel. lence He did not form a class or species by himself, but belonged to a class or species. His age was necessary to him; nor could he have been wrenched from his place in the edifice, of which he was so conspicuous a part, without equal injury. to himself and it. Mr Wordsworth says of Milton, that “ his soul was like a star, and
This cannot be said with any propriety of Shakespeare, who certainly moved in a constellation of bright luminaries, and “ drew after him the third part of the heavens.”
The author then proceeds to investigate the general causes of that sudden and rich development of poetical feeling wi ich forms his theme. He attributes it chiefly to the mighty impulse given to thought by the Reformation -to the disclosure of all the marvellous stores of sacred antiquity, by the translation of the Scriptures--and to the infinite sweetness, breathing from the divine character of the Messiahl, with which he seems to ima, gine that the people were not familiar in darker ages. far from insensible to the exquisite beauty with which this last subject is treated; and fully agree with our author, that there is something in the character of Christ, of more sweetness and majesty, and more likely to work a change in the mind of man, than any to be found in history, whether actual or feigned. But we cannot think that the gentle influences which that character shed upon the general heart, were weak or partial even before the translation of the Scriptures. The young had received it, not from books, but from the living voice of their parents, made softer in its tones by reverence and love. It had tempered early enthusiasm, and prompted visions of celestial beauty, in the souls even of the most low, before men had been taught to reason on their faith. The instances of the Saviour's compassion-his wondrous and beneficent miracles -- his agonies and death, did not lie forgotten during centuries, because the people could not read of them. They were written on the Heshly tables of the heart,' and softened the tenor of humble existence, while superstition, ignorance and priestcraft held sway in high places.
These old feelings of love, however, tended greatly to sweeten and moderate the first excursions of the intellect, when released from its long thraldım. The new opening of the stores of Classic lore, of Ancient History, of Italian Poetry, and of Spanish Romance, contributed o uch', doubtless, to the incitement and the perfection of our national genius,
the Reformation, until the death of Charles the First. The se cond comprises the characters of Lyly, Marlow, Heywood, Middleton, and Rowley. The account of Lyly's Endymion is worthy of that sweet but singular work. The address of Eumenides to Endymion, on his awaking from his long sleep, . Behold the twig to which thou laidest down thy head is become a tree,' is indeed, as described by our author, an exquisitely chusen image, and dumb proof of the manner in which he has passed his life from youth to old age,-in a dream, a dream of love!' His description of Marlow's qualities, when he says there is a lust of power in his writings, a hunger and thirst after unrighteousness, a glow of the imagination unhallowed by any thing but its own energies,' is very striking. The characters of Middleton and Rowley in this Lecture, and those of Marston, Chapman, Deckar, and Webster in the third, are sketched with great spirit; and the peculiar beauties of each are dwelt on in a style and with a sentiment congenial with the predominant feeling of the poet. At the close of the Lecture, the obscrvation, that the old Dramatic writers have nothing theatrical about them, introduces the following eulogy on that fresh delight which books are ever ready to yield us.
Here, on Salisbury Plain, where I write this, even here, with a few old authors, I can manage to get through the summer or the winter months, without ever knowing what it is to feel ennui. They sit with me at breakfast, they walk out with me before dinner. After a long walk through unfrequented tracts,-after starting the hare from the fern, or hearing the wing of the raven rustling above my head, or being greeted with the woodman's “ stern goodnight” as he strikes into his narrow homeward path,-I can take “mine ease at mine inn" beside the blazing hearth, and shake hands with Sig. nor Orlando Frescobaldo, as the oldest acquaintance I have. Ben Jonson, learned Chapman, Master Webster, and Master Heywood are there ; and, seated round, discourse the silent hours away. Shakespeare is there himself, rich in Cibber's Manager's coat. Spenser is hardly returned from a ramble through the woods, or is concealed behind a group of nymphs, fawns, and satyrs. Milton lies on the table as on an altar, never taken up or laid down without reverence. Lyly's Endymion sleeps with the moon that shines in at the window; and a breath of wind stirring at a distance, seems a sigh from the tree under which he grew old. Faustus disputes in one corner of the room with fiendish faces, and reasons of divine astrology. Bellafront soothes Mattheo, Vittoria triumphs over her Judges, and old Chapman repeats one of the hymns of Homer, in his own fine translation.
pp. 136-7. The spirit of this passage is very deep and cordial ; and the expression, for the most part, exquisite. But we wonder
that Mr Hazlitt should commit so great an incongruity, as to represent the other poets around him in person, while Milton, introduced among the rest, is used only as the title of a book. Why are other authors to be seated round,' to cheer the cris tic's retirement as if living,—while Milton, like a petition in the House of Commons, is only ordered to lie upon the table'?
In the Fourth Lecture, ample justice is done to Beaumont and Fletcher, Massinger and Ben Jonson ; but we think the same measure is not meted to Ford. We cannot regard the author of < 'Tis Pity she's a Whore,' and the Broken Heart,' as “finical and fastidious.' We are directly at issue, indeed, with our author on his opinions respecting the catastrophe of the latter tragedy. Calantha, Princess of Sparta, is celebrating the nuptials of a noble pair, with solemn dancing, when a messenger enters, and informs her that the King her father is dead;—she dances
Another report is brought to her, that the sister of her betrothed husband is starved ;-—she calls for the other change. A third informs her that Ithocles, her lover, is cruelly murderod;
she complains that the music sounds dull, and orders sprightlier measures. The dance ended, she announces herself Queen, pronounces sentence on the murderer of Ithocles, and directs the ceremonials of her coronation to be immediately prepared. Her commands are obeyed. She enters the Temple in white, crowned, while the dead body of her husband is borne on a hearse, and placed beside the altar; at which she kneels in silent prayer. After her devotions, she addresses Nearchus, Prince of Argos, as though she would chuse him for her husband, and lays down all orders for the regulation of her kingdom, under the guise of proposals of marriage. This done, she turns to the body of Ithocles, the shadow of her contracted lord,' puts her mother's wedding ring on his finger, 'to newmarry him whose wife she is,' and from whom death shall not part her. She then kisses his cold lips, and dies smiling. This Mr Hazlitt calls tragedy in masquerade,' the true false gallop of sentiment;' and declares, that any thing more artificial and mechanical he cannot conceive.' He regards the whole scene as a forced transposition of one in Marston's Malcontent, where Aurelia dances on in defiance to the world, when she hears of the death of a detested husband. He observes, that à woman should call for music, and dance on in spite of the death of her husband whom she hates, without regard to common decency, is but too possible: that she should dance on with the same heroic perseverance, in spite of the death of her father, and of every one else whom she loves, from regard to common courtesy or appearance, is not surely natural. The
universe. The great Patonic year revolves in one of his periods. Xatute is too lite for the grasp of his style. He scoops an antithe is ect of fabacus antiquits, a: d rakes up an epithet from the Streprgs of chaos. It is as if his books had dropped from the clouds, or as if Friar Bacon's head coad speak. He stands on tbe size of the world of seas 4.d reason, and gets a vertigo by loosisz doxa at impos buities and chairas. Or be buries himself with the meriteries of the Cabba a, or the enclosed secrets of the heavenly quincunxes, as ch idren are amused with tales of the nursery. The passion of curiosity the ony passion of childhood. had in him survived to old age, and had superannuated his other faculties. He moralizes and grows pathetic on a mere idle fancy of his own), as it thought and being were the same, or as if “ all this world were one glorious lie." He had the most intense consciousness of contradic. tions and nonentities ; and he decks them out in the pride and pedantry of words, as if they were the attire of his proper person. The categories hang about his neck like the gold chain of knighthood; and he " walks gowned " in the intricate folds and swelling drapery of dark sayings and impenetrable riddies.' pp. 292-295.
The Eighth and Last Lectare begins with a few words on the merits of Sheil, Tobin, Lamb, and Cornwall, who, in our own time, have written in the spirit of the elder dramatists. The observations in this Lecture, on the spirit of the romantic and classic literature, are followed by a striking development of the materials, and an examination of the success of the German Drama. Mr Hazlitt attributes the triumph of its monstreus paradoxes to those abuses and hypocrisies of society, those incoherences between its professions and its motives, which excite enthusiastic minds to seek for the opposite, at once, of its defects and blessings. His account of his own sensations on the first perusal of the Robbers, is one of the most striking passages in the work.
· I have half trified with this subject; and I believe I have done so because I despaired of finding language for some old-rooted feelings I have about it, which a theory could neither give, nor can it take away. The Robbers was the first play I ever read ; and the effect it produced upon me was the greatest. It stunned me like a blow; and I have not recovered enough from it to tell how it was. There are impressions which neither time nor circumstances can efface. Were I to live much longer than I have any chance of doing, the books I have read when I was young, I can never forget. Fiveand-twenty years have elapsed since I first read the translation of the Robbers, but they have not blotted the impression from my mind ; it is here still—an old dweller in the chambers of the brain. The scene, in particular, in which Moor looks through his tears at the evening sun from the mountain's brow, and says in his despair, “ It was my wish like him to live, like him to die : it was an idle thought,