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until the Reformation, when at last, in the semi-Pagan Platonists of the era of Leo X., it became excessive, and contributed to the great upturning. Even then candor did not depart at once from the Church. Erasmus, as we have seen, could ascribe inspiration to Cicero, and Zwinglius and other contemporaries showed a similar liberality. To this day, in the Eastern Church, as we are told by Stanley, along the porticos of the temples may be seen the figures of Gentile poets and philosophers, who are held to have been providential pioneers for the labors of the Christian saints. But the narrowness to which Mrs. Child alludes, is too generally characteristic of the treatment accorded to those beyond our pale. Too often, the loftiest Gentile schemes are flippantly dismissed, as inadequate to any useful purpose, if not mere "childish fable or filthy superstition.”

Certainly, in the speculations with which we have been occupied, the blemishes are not so many or so marked as to cancel their usefulness. It is impossible to dwell upon them without feeling that the mind is acquiring something of composure and dignity, an armor to defend it against the assaults of the world, a fire of enthusiasm to urge it forward in benevolence and the pursuit of noble things. In the case of any of these majestic thinkers, truly can the student say, employing the language of Seneca respecting a favorite author: "In whatever condition of mind I may be when I read that man's writings, I tell you I am ready to challenge all manner of mischances; I am ready to cry out, Why do you delay, O Fortune? Come on! you see one who is prepared for you'; I long for something to overcome, something that shall try my patience."*

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*Epist. LXIV. 2.

ART. IV. SHAKESPEARE AND FRIENDSHIP.

The Works of WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE. The Plays edited from the Folio of MDCXXIII., with Various Readings from all the Editions and all the Commentators, Notes, Introductory Remarks, a Historical Sketch of the Text, an Account of the Rise and Progress of the English Drama, a Memoir of the Poet, and an Essay upon his Genius. By RICHARD GRANT WHITE. Boston Little, Brown, & Co. 1861. 12 vols. Small 8vo.

WE place this descriptive title of Mr. White's edition of the works of the greatest poet of the world at the head of our article, not in order to describe its characteristics and eulogize its merits, but simply to serve as a text from which to start in treating the special theme indicated above. Thus much, however, we feel impelled to say that if we could own but one edition of the works of Shakespeare, and had our choice out of all the editions ever printed, we should select the one now—with the exception of the first volume, which is not yet published-offered to the public by Richard Grant White, from the press of Messrs. Little, Brown, & Co.

Shakespeare, in whose comprehensive genius the entire sphere of human experience lay mirrored, has scattered through his plays hundreds of graphic traits and sayings relating to friendship. Whoever reads his pages with a direct eye to this theme, will be surprised to find how thick the allusions to it are; how varied, delicate, and earnest they are; and what a collective sum of wisdom and emotion, of manifold passion, tenderness, and judgment, is in them. Such a perusal proves that Shakespeare's heart was as teeming and wonderful a treasury of love as his mind was of thought.

In the world of the good affections there is not a point, particle, or motion which was not well known to him, both by intuitive experience and by reflective consciousness. He was the most sensitive, loving, generous of men; - an organization "servile to all the skyey influences"; a heart no less fond and mobile than vast and tenacious; an intellect capable of taking accurate impressions of all phenomena, and rendering quick interpretations enriched by the commingling reactions of his

redundant genius. Though he enters and informs all sorts of characters, and meets all kinds of exigencies in wonderful accordance with the demands of dramatic truth, he seems most untrammelled and complete, most perfectly himself, when depicting or paying tribute to the noblest forms of human nature, breathing the gentlest sentiments. He condemns, scorns, loathes, hates, with a terrible emphasis indeed; but he approves, admires, pities, loves, with a pervasive unction and irresistible sincerity superior still. In the former, he seems comparatively mimetic; in the latter, organic. There he is a dramatist, filling a part with forms suited to his conceit; here he is himself, at one with the very spirit of nature and humanity: his words give an echo to the seat where love is throned. All the finest expressions of reverence and sympathy between persons which he puts into the mouths of his interlocutors bear the marks of the soul of Shakespeare, a mellow flavor of catholicity, a deep tinge of beauty, an unfathomable fondness, a poised and sad wisdom, ever and anon fringing itself with sportiveness. In this mood, every utterance of his, however adapted to the character and situation it is assigned to, carries the stamp of its sublime parentage, is redolent of the rich place it came from.

In addition to these precious incidental touches, Shakespeare has drawn no less than eight memorable pictures of friendship, designed portraitures. The first of these, in time and in interest, is that of the rapturous love subsisting between himself and the mysterious Nameless whose entrancing charms he has overlaid with the amber of his Sonnets, where the final generation of men may gaze on them with unspent astonishment.

"Who will believe my verse in time to come,

If it were filled with your most high deserts ?
Though yet, Heaven knows, it is but as a tomb
Which hides your life, and shows not half your parts.

So should my papers, yellowed with their age,

Be scorned, like old men of less truth than tongue;

And your true rights be termed a poet's rage,

And stretched metre of an antique song."

These matchless compositions mark the highest point in lit

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erature ever attained by the sentiment of friendship in its richest and most inspired form. None but the finest, warmest souls should ever read them. Should? No others can. And when such a one, retreating to some secluded spot, with pensive, leisurely, and yearning heart, roams in these flushed and spicy precincts, like an enchanted sultan, he walks in meadows of roses, strolls beside rivers of milk and honey, wanders over the hills of frankincense, and pitches his tent on the mountains of myrrh.

The information these productions contain in relation to the personal character and experience of their wondrous author, possesses the very highest interest; for, as Wordsworth says, in naming the chief writers of sonnets, "With this key Shakespeare unlocked his heart." Though called Sonnets, they are not strictly such, but rather loosely-connected poems in sonnet stanza. The writer praises the beauty and goodness of his friend, and tries to persuade him to marry; complains of a severe wrong, but forgives him; complains also of coldness, and warns him that decay and death are swift; moved by fear of a rival, expostulates on inconstancy; reproves him for certain faults; excuses his own silence, and protests his undying truth. Such is the general argument, but infinitely varied and fulfilled, which he pours along his lines,—

"too excellent For every vulgar paper to rehearse."

It is astonishing how rich a treatment of friendship these poems give. Their wealth does not appear at once. They must be perused a great number of times, in favorable moods, with absolute attention. Such a study of them, really discerning all that is in them, will show that they touch with masterly stroke almost everything that belongs to the experience in its fullest and most diversified form. Of the large number of the Sonnets that it would be a delight to adorn these pages with, the three that follow must suffice.

"If thou survive my well-contented day,

When that churl, Death, my bones with dust shall cover,

And shalt by fortune once more re-survey

These

poor, rude lines of thy deceased lover,

Compare them with the bettering of the time;
And though they be outstripped by every pen,
Reserve them for my love, not for their rhyme,
Exceeded by the height of happier men.
O, then vouchsafe me but this loving thought!
Had my friend's muse grown with this growing age,
A dearer birth than this his love had brought,
To march in ranks of better equipage;

But since he died, and poets better prove,

Theirs for their style I'll read, his for his love!"

How powerfully the spirit of sincerity reveals itself through the poetic exaggeration of the foregoing lines, and what a fine example they afford of the divine grace that waits on modesty !

The next piece depicts, with a marvellous power of tender delicacy, and truth to experience, the ideal sovereignty of the image of a dear friend in the mind.

"When to the sessions of sweet, silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,

I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,

And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,

For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,
And weep afresh love's long-since cancelled woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanished sight.
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored, and sorrows end."

Who would not willingly suffer the pains of absence and suspicion, to receive such protestation as the poet here brings, in lines where every kind of skill and worth vies with another which shall be first?

“O, never say that I was false of heart,

Though absence seemed my flame to qualify!
As easy might I from myself depart,

As from my soul which in thy breast doth lie:
That is my home of love: if I have ranged,
Like him that travels, I return again,

Just to the time, not with the time exchanged, —
So that myself bring water for my stain.

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