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farthest reach of subtlety compatible with an individual self,—the subtilest of authors, and only just within the possibility of authorship. With this wisdom of life is the equal endowment of imaginative and of lyric power. He clothed the creatures of his legend with form and sentiments, as if they were people who had lived under his roof; and few real men have left such distinct characters as these fictions. And they spoke in language as sweet as it was fit. Yet his talents never seduced him into an ostentation, nor did he harp on one string. An omnipresent humanity co-ordinates all his faculties. Give a man of talents a story to tell, and his partiality will presently appear. He has certain observations, opinions, topics, which have some accidental prominence, and which he disposes all to exhibit. He crams this part, and starves that other part, consulting not the fitness of the thing, but his fitness and strength. But Shakspeare has no peculiarity, no importunate topic; but all is duly given; no veins, no curiosities : no cowpainter, no bird-fancier, no mannerist is he: he has no discoverable egotism : the great he tells greatly; the small, subordinately. He is wise without emphasis or assertion ; he is strong, as nature is strong, who lifts the land into mountain slopes without effort, and by the same rule as she floats a bubble in the air, and likes as well to do the one as the other. This makes that equality of power in farce, tragedy, narrative, and love-songs; a merit so incessant, that each reader is incredulous of the perception of other readers.
This power of expression, or of transferring the inmost truth of things into music and verse, makes him the type of the poet, and has added a new problem to metaphysics. This is that which throws him into natural history, as a main production of the globe, and as announcing new eras and ameliorations. Things were mirrored in his poetry without loss or blur : he could paint the fine with precision, the great with compass; the tragic and the comic indifferently, and without any distortion or favour. He carried his powerful execution into minute details, to a hair point; finishes an eyelash or a dimple as firmly as he draws a mountain; and yet these, like nature's, will bear the scrutiny of the solar microscope.
In short, he is the chief example to prove that more or less of production, more or fewer pictures, is a thing indifferent. He had the power to make one picture. Daguerré learned how to let one flower etch its image on his plate of iodine; and then proceeds at leisure to etch a million. There are always objects; but there was never representation. Here is perfect representation at last; and now let the world of figures sit for their portraits. No recipe can be given for the making of a Shakspeare; but the possibility of the translation of things into song is demonstrated.
One more royal trait properly belongs to the poet. I mean his cheerfulness, without which no man can be a poet-for beauty is his aim. He loves virtue, not for its obligation, but for its grace: he delights in the world, in man, in woman, for the lovely light that sparkles from them. Beauty, the spirit of joy and hilarity, he sheds over the universe. Epicurus relates that poetry hath such charms that a lover might forsake his mistress to partake of them. And the true bards have been noted for their firm and cheerful temper. Homer lies in sunshine; Chaucer is glad and erect; and Saadi
says, “It was rumoured abroad that I was penitent; but what had I to do with repentance ?" Not less sovereign and cheerful-much more sovereign and cheerful—is the tone of Shakspeare. His name suggests joy and emancipation to the heart of men. If he should appear in any company of human souls, who would not march in his troop? He touches nothing that does not borrow health and longevity from his festal style.
And now how stands the account of man with this bard and benefactor, when in solitude, shutting our ears to the reverberations of his fame, we seek to strike the balance ? Solitude has austere lessons; it can teach us to spare both heroes and poets; and it weighs Shakspeare also, and finds him to share the halfness and imperfection of humanity.
Shakspeare, Homer, Dante, Chaucer, saw the splendour of meaning that plays over the visible world; knew that a tree had another use than for apples, and corn another than for meal, and the ball of the earth than for tillage and roads: that these things bore a second and finer harvest to the mind, being emblems of its thoughts, and conveying in all their natural history a certain mute commentary on human life. Shakspeare employed them as colours to compose his picture. He rested in their beauty; and never took the step which seemed inevitable to such genius, namely, to explore the virtue which resides in these symbols, and imparts this power—what is that which they themselves say? He converted the elements, which waited on his command, into entertainments. He was master of the revels to mankind. Is it not as if one should have, through majestic powers of science, the comets given into his hand, or the planets and their moons, and should draw them from their orbits to glare with the municipal fireworks on a holiday night, and advertise in all towns, “Very superior pyrotechny this evening ?” Are the agents of nature, and the power to understand them, worth no more than a street serenade, or the breath of a cigar? One remembers again the trumpet-text in the Koran—"The heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, think ye we have created them in jest ?" As long as the question is of talent and mental power, the world of men has not his equal to show. But when the question is to life, and its materials, and its auxiliaries, how does he profit me? What does it signify ? It is but a "Twelfth Night,” or a “Midsummer Night's Dream,” or a “Winter Evening's Tale;" what signifies another picture more or less ? The Egyptian verdict of the Shakspeare Societies comes to mind, that he was a jovial actor and manager. I cannot marry this fact to his verse. Other admirable men have led lives in some sort of keeping with their thought; but this man, in wide contrast, Had lie been less, had he reached only the common measure of great authors, of Bacon, Milton, Tasso, Cervantes, we might leave the fact in the twilight of human fate; but, that this man of men, he who gave to the science of mind a new and larger subject than had ever existed, and planted the standard of humanity some furlongs forward into chaos—that he should not be wise for himself-it must even go into the world's history that the best poet led an obscure and profane life, using his genius for the public amusement.
Well, other men, priest and prophet, Israelite, German, and Swede, beheld the same objects: they also saw through them that which was contained. And to what purpose? The beauty straightway vanished; they read commandments, all-excluding mountainous duty; an obligation, a sadness, as of piled mountains, fell on them, and life became ghastly, joyless, a pilgrim's progress, a probation beleaguered round with doletul histories of Adam's fall and curse, behind
with doomsdays and purgatorial and penal fires before us; and the heart of the seer and the heart of the listener sank in them.
It must be conceded that these are half views of half niên. The world still wants its poet-priest, a reconciler, who shall not trifle with Shakspeare the player, nor shall grope in graves with Swedenborg the mourner ; but who shall see, speak, and act, with equal inspiration. For knowledge will brighten the sunshine; right is more beautiful than private affection; and love is compatible with universal wisdom.
SIR TURLOUGH, OR THE CHURCH YARD BRIDE.
WILLIAM CARLETON. [William Carleton, the Irish poet and novelist, was born at Clogher, Tyrone, in 1798. His father was a peasant, but was said
to be "remarkable for his knowledge of the traditions of his native land ;" while his mother was skilled in the native music of her country." Carleton's first instructor was a “hedge'' schoolmaster; but, as he gave early indications of that talent which, when ripened, raised him to celebrity, his parents found means to send him as
a poor scholar” to Munster, to complete his education. In bis 17tli year he went to assist a relation (a priest), who had opened a classical school near Glasslough, where he stopped but two years, and then obtained a precarious living as a private tutor; ultimately giving this up in despair, and proceeding to Dublin “to seek his fortune” with 2s. 9d. in his pocket. His first work, “ Traits and Stories,”: 2 vols., was published in Dublin in 1830. It was well received, and a second series appeared in 1832. In 1839 he published a very powerful Irish story, “Fardorougha, the Miser," and since then, an acknowledged author, he has written and published numerous other tales. He appears to be endued with all the prejudices of the so-called national party, and this occasionally crops out in his writings. In 1855 the Crown bestowed a pension of 2001. a-year on him, but he emigrated to America some time since, “after," says one of his biographers, “taking leave of his 'ungrateful country' in a fierce poetical denunciation !'']
The bride she bound her golden hair
Killeevy, 0 Killeevy !
By the bonnie green woods of Killeevy.