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Job, and the modern Spanish merchants! Marlowe, though he was a scholar, cared no more for geography and consistent history than Shakspeare. He took the world as he found it at the theatre, where it was a mixture of golden age innocence, tragical enormity, and a knowledge superior to all petty and transitory facts.
2 « Mine argosies from Alexandria,” &c.—Note the wonderful sweetness of these four lines, particularly the last. The variety of the vowels, the delicate alliteration, and the lapse of the two concluding verses, are equal, as a study, to anything in Spenser.
A VISION OF HELEN.
She passes between two Cupids, having been summoned from the next
world by desire of Faustus.
And burnt the topmost towers of Ilium ?
8 « Brighter art thou,” &c.—Much cannot be said of the five lines here ensuing ; but their retention was necessary to the entire feeling or classical association of the speech, if not to a certain lingering modulation.
MYTHOLOGY AND COURT AMUSEMENTS.
Gaveston meditates how to govern Edward the Second
I must have wanton poets, pleasant wits,
BEAUTY BEYOND EXPRESSION.
If all the pens that ever poet held
THE PASSIONATE SHEPHERD TO HIS LOVE.
Come live with me and be my love,
This song is introduced, not so much for its poetical excellence (though it is quite what a poet would write on the occasion) as because it is one of those happy embodiments of a thought which all the world thinks at some time or other; and which therefore takes wonderfully with them when somebody utters it. The “golden buckles” and “amber studs” are not to be considered as a contradiction to the rest of the imagery; for we are to suppose it a gentlewoman to whom the invitation is addressed, and with whom her bridegroom proposes to go and play at shepherd and shepherdess, at once realizing the sweets of lowliness and the advantages of wealth. A charming fancy! and realized too sometimes; though Sir Walter Raleigh could not let it alone, but must needs refute it in some excellent
verses, too good for the occasion. Sir Walter, a great but wil. ful man (in some respects like Marlowe himself, and a true poet too—I wish he had written more poetry), could pass and ultimately lose his life in search of El Dorados,—whole countries made of gold,—but doubted whether an innocent young lady and gentleman, or so, should aim at establishing a bit of Arcadia.
There are so many copies of this once-popular production, all different and none quite consistent, owing, no doubt, to oral repetitions and the license of musical setting (for no copy of it is to be found coeval with its production), that, after studious comparison of several, I have exercised a certain discretion in the one here printed, and omitted also an ill-managed repetition of the burthen :--not, of course, with the addition of a syllable. Such readers, therefore, as it may concern, are warned not to take the present copy for granted, at the expense of the others; but to compare them all, and make his choice.
SHAKSPEARE is here in his purely poetical creations, apart (as much as it is possible for such a thinker and humanist to be) from thought and humanity. There is nothing wanting either to the imagination or fancy of Shakspeare. The one is lofty, rich, affecting, palpable, subtle; the other full of grace, playfulness, and variety. He is equal to the greatest poets in grandeur of imagination ; to all in diversity of it; to all in fancy ; to all in everything else, except in a certain primæval intensity, such as Dante's and Chaucer's; and in narrative poetry, which (to judge from Venus and Adonis, and the Rape of Lucrece) he certainly does not appear to have had a call to write.
He overinformed it with reflection. It has been supposed that when Milton spoke of Shakspeare as
the genealogy did him injustice. But the critical distinction between Fancy and Imagination was hardly determined till of late. Collins himself, in his Ode on the Poetical Character, uses the word Fancy to imply both, even when speaking of Milton; and so did Milton, I conceive, when speaking of Shakspeare. The propriety of the words, “native wood-notes wild," is not so clear. I take them to have been hastily said by a learned man of an unlearned. But Shakspeare, though he had not a college education, was as learned as any man, in the highest sense of the word, by a scholarly intuition. He had the spirit of learning. He was aware of the education he wanted,