« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
spere's love for children and childhood. There is a healthiness and a joy about it which should not be passed over. I am not speaking now of the higher love which he always represents—a father feeling for his child, or a child for its parents; but that happy view of children and child's life which he paints. Take, for instance, how Polixenes, in the Winter's Tale, (act. i., scene i.,) describes his boy, as :
* All my exercise, my mirth, my matter,
He makes a July's day short as December.' Or, again, look at the scene in the next act between Mamillius and his mother, when the little rogue tries to frighten her by beginning so solemnly, "There was a man dwelt by a churchyard. This joyful way in which Shakspere touches upon children is very beautiful. For one more illustration, take Valeria’s description, in Coriolanus, (act i., scene 3,) of Virgilia's boy, who ran after a gilded butterfly, and when he caught it, he let it go again; and after it again ; and over and over he comes, and up again, and caught it again :' a picture which is very nature.”
Here at his tomb we love to recall all these things about the man, and experience a deep joy in knowing that his heart was as loving and loveable as his brain was mighty and marvellous. We delight also in thinking or in reading over what the great poets lave said in honour of their greatest brother. We again hear rare Ben Jonson telling the world that he “loved the man, and do honour his memory on this side
idolatry, as much as any. He was, indeed, honest, and of an open and free nature.”. We read once more, and never in a more appropriate place, his old friend's lines “ TO THE MEMORY OF MY BELOVED THE AUTHOR,
MR. WILLIAM SHAKSPERE, AND
HATH LEFT US.
“ To draw no envy, Shakspere, on thy name,
Am I thus ample to thy book and fame;
And though thou hadst small Latin, and less Greek, From thence to honour thee, I would not seek For names; but call forth thuud'ring Æschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles, to us, Pacuvius, Accius, him of Cordova dead, To life again, to hear thy buskin tread And shake a stage; or when thy shocks come on, Leave thee alone ; for the comparison Of all that insolent Greece or haughty Rome Sent forth, or since did from their ashes come. Triumph my Britain! thou hast one to show, To whom all scenes of Europe homage owe. He was not of an age, but for all time; And all the muses still were in their prime, When, like Apollo, he came forth to warm Our ears; or, like a Mercury, to charm. Nature herself was proud of his designs, And joy'd to wear the dressing of his lines; Which were so richly spun, and woven so fit, As, since, she will vouchsafe no other wit : The merry Greek, tari Aristophanes, Neat Terence, witty Plautus, now not please ; But antiquated and deserted lie, As they were not of nature’s fanıily. Yet must I not give Nature all; thy art, My gentle Shakspere, must enjoy a part.For though the poet's matter nature be, His art doth give the fashion : and that he Who casts to write a living line, must sweat, (Such as thine are,) and strike a second heat Upon the muse's anvil ; turn the same (And himself with it), that he thinks to frame; Or for the laurel he may gain a scorn, For a good poet 's made, as well as born: And such wert thou. Look how the father's face Lives in his issue ; even so the race Of Shakspere's mind and manners brightly shines In his well-turned and true-filed lines; In each of which he seems to shake a lance, As brandish'd at the eyes of ignorance.
Sweet swan of Avon, what a sight it were,
Thus nobly England's second great dramatist wrote in memory of her first and greatest. Such golden testimony did “rare Ben Jonson” bear to the nature, character, and genius of his contemporary, his “ beloved Mr. William Shakspere.” Over the grave in Stratford church is a fitting place to read these glorious lines. There, indeed, we feel that he is “ a monument without a tomb;” that "he is still alive, while his book doth live; and we have wits to read, and praise to give." There also, more
” fully than in any other place, do we realize the truth of the prophetic line, "He was not of an age, but for all time;" and bless the memory of the brave, sturdy, honest, and appreciative friend who has so poetically given voice to our best and highest admiration of England's chiefest child of song.
Nor must we forget Milton's noble epitaph. The large-hearted Puritan found his Pantheon large enough to admit Chaucer, and Spenser, and the writers of "wicked" plays. He did not scruple to confess how much he had learned from Spenser : he knew that “the lofty, grave tragedians are the teachers best of moral prudence;” and in memory of the greatest of these lofty, grave tragedians, the writer of England's, if not the world's, noblest epic thus wrote:
“What need my Shakspeare for his hallow'd bones
That kings, for such a tomb, would wish to die." We left the church, and returned to Henley Street; then to the Chapel of the Guild, to the Grammar School, and to the Guild Hall, where young Shakspere, taken by his kinsman Thomas Greene, the player, may have witnessed the rude drama of the day, and where doubtless his youthful genius was first awakened, and the desire to “strut and fret his little hour upon the stage” was first called forth. Every spot in the old town has an interest, and that interest begins and ends in the one great and abiding memory,--the memory of him who, born in that quaint house in Henley Street, has enriched the world with a priceless legacy, and for whose existence every Englishman ought to give God thanks.
On leaving Stratford, we took a boat and rowed