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ing led to the formation of this exquisite pastoral drama, is enough to make us withhold our assent to Steevens's splenetic censure of it as “ worthless."
“ Touched by the magic wand of the enchanter, the dull and endless prosing of the novelist is transformed into an interesting and lively drama; the forest of Arden converted into a real Arcadia of the golden age. The highly-sketched figures pass along in the most diversified succession : we see always the shady dark-green landscape in the back ground, and breathe, in imagination, the fresh air of the forest. The hours are here measured by no clocks, no regulated recurrence of duty or toil; they flow on unnumbered in voluntary occupation or fanciful idleness. One throws himself down “under the shade of melancholy boughs,' and indulges in reflection on the changes of fortune, the falsehood of the world, and the self-created torments of social life: others make the woods resound with social and festive songs, to the accompaniment of their horns. Selfishness, envy, and ambition, have been left in the city behind them: of all the human passions, love alone has found an entrance into this sylvan scene, where it dictates the same language to the simple shepherd, and the chivalrous youth who hangs his love ditty to a tree.” *
" And this their life, exempt from public haunts,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
How exquisitely is the character of Rosalind conceived! what liveliness and sportive gayety, combined with the most natural and affectionate tenderness! the reader is as much in love with her as Orlando, and wonders not at Phebe's sudden passion for her when disguised as Ganymede; or Celia's constant friendship. Touchstone is, indeed, a "rare fellow; he uses his folly as a stalking-horse, and under the presentation of that, he shoots his wit:" his courtship of Audrey, his lecture to Corin, his defence of cuckolds, and his burlesque upon the “duello” of the age, are all most “ exquisite fooling.” It has been remarked, that there are few of Shakspeare's plays which contain so many passages that are quoted and remembered, and phrases that have become in a manner proverbial. To enumerate them would be to mention every scene in the play. And I must no longer detain the reader from this most delightful of Shakspeare's comedies.
Malone places the composition of this play in 1599. There is no edition known previous to that in the folio of 1623. But it appears among the miscellaneous entries of prohibited pieces in the Stationers books, without any certain date.
Duke, living in exile.
Lords attending upon the Duke in his banishment.
ROSALIND, Daughter to the banished Duke.
Lords belonging to the two Dukes; Pages, Foresters, and other
The SCENE lies, first, near Oliver's House; afterwards, partly in
the Usurper's Court, and partly in the Forest of Arden.
AS YOU LIKE IT.
SCENE !. An Orchard near Oliver's House.
Enter ORLANDO and ADAM. Orlando. As I remember, Adam, it was upon this fashion bequeathed me by will ; but a poor thousand crowns; and, as thou sayest, charged my brother, on his blessing, to breed me well ; and there begins my sadness. My brother Jaques he keeps at school, and report speaks goldenly of his profit : for my part, he keeps me rustically at home, or, to speak more properly, stays? me here at home unkept. For call you that keeping for a gentleman of my birth, that differs not from the stalling of an ox? His horses are bred better; for, besides that they are fair with their feeding, they are taught their manage, and to that end riders dearly hired; but I, his brother, gain nothing under him but growth; for the which his animals on his dunghills are as much bound to him as I. Besides this nothing that he so plentifully gives me, the something that nature gave me, his countenance seems to take from me; he lets me feed with his hinds, bars me the place of a brother, and, as much as in him lies, mines my gentility with my education. This is it, Adam, that grieves me; and the spirit of my father, which 1
i Sir W. Blackstone proposed to read, “ He bequeathed, &c." Warburton proposed to read, “ My futher bequeathed, &c."
2 The old orthography staies was an easy corruption of sties; which Warburton thought the true reading
VOL. II. 33