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Lecture VII. SHAKSPERE. ' LEAR.' ' OTHELLO.' An Englishman,
criticising Shakspere, is not unlikely to bring a hornet's nest
about his ears. Our national poet is known, more or less, by every
one, and yet those who can speak of him with full authority, so as
to command assent, are still to seek. In Dr. Johnson's instructive
but not very lively story, familiar to men, by name at least, as '
Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia,' the sage Imlac, a learned but, as
you will remember, not an amusing person, enumerates the
qualifications without which no one can claim to be a poet. It
takes so much time to reckon them all up, that the royal pupil,
accustomed to his own way in the Happy Valley, and as impatient of
des longueurs as the most vivacious Parisian extant, cuts him short
with this natural interruption? ' Enough, you have convinced me
that it is impossible for any man to be a poet.' This, however,
does not suit Imlac's purpose, who begins again at once without
mercy. 'To be a poet is indeed difficult, but not impossible.'
Imlac's object is, unless my memory fails me, to insinuate that he
himself might have been great in verse, if he had not preferred
being greater still in philosophy; but I forget how the homily
ends, nor is it of much importance. Taking the Abyssinian
professor, however, as ourexample, we may acknowledge that to be a
complete, exhaustive, and infallible critic on Shakspere is nearly
as difficult as to stand forth an accredited poet after the order
of Imlac. Of our great dramatist we may say, as I believe one of
the Fathers said of the Bible: ' There are to be found here bright
shallows along which a lamb may wade, and dark places deep enough
to drown an elephant.' And, indeed, many illustrious elephants,
German as well as English, whether drowned or not...
General Books LLC
|Country of origin:
Francis Hastings Charles Doyle
||246 x 189 x 5mm (L x W x T)
||Paperback - Trade
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