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advanced in one but contradicted in another, they still resemble their author, and betray the want of depth or of resolution in his mind. His works alone make not up a man's character, but they are the index to that living book.' — Sir E. B. Lytton's Student, vol. I., p. 9.
Hunter, in his Preface to his Illustrations,' and elsewhere, thinks that not only the mind and opinions, but the personal history of Shakspere may be derived from the criticism of his works. W. J. Fox, M.P., delivered Lectures on the Politics of Shakspere indicated in his plays.
We have endeavoured, therefore, in this inquiry, to decide upon Shakspere's opinions on religion from the majority of instances in which he has declared himself on one side of the question more than the other.
The question to which we offer a solution is the one raised by Mr. Knight, the most complimentary of Shakspere's editors. To speak with brevity our • Inquiry' is into the truth of our motto.
It is not hidden from us how many enthusiastic admirers of Shakspere will be startled at our views, and, perhaps, reject them; but if they will do us the favour to examine first, we shall be content. Not less than they do we admire tlie versatility of Shakspere's powers—we rejoice at his genius, and are proud of the reputation he has added to the national character, but these very circumstances make the inquiry more interesting - what were the peculiarities of his philosophy and religion ?
The author wishes to be considered merely as an inquirer, not as a censor. He desires not to judge Shakspere for his ' sentiments, but only to exhibit them. This, he trusts, he
has done truly and impartially, without levity on the one side or bigotry on the other.
There was a time when this attempt might have been deemed injudicious, but now that Shakspere is enthroned in the hearts of the people, and at the head of the national, if not of European, literature, it may safely be adventured upon.
Much corroborative evidence of the correctness of the views delineated in this work had been prepared, but is withheld on account of the great size to which it would swell the book, and from a conviction that the internal evidence from Shakspere's writings, presented in the • Inquiry,' is the fairest umpire to appeal to, and amply sufficient for the purpose.
As an explanation of any typographical or other errors, it must be mentioned, that the author resided in the country while composing the work, and during its progress through
PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGION
BY W.J. BIRCH, M.A.,
NEW INN HALL, OXON.
AUTHOR OF THE 'REAL AND THE IDEAL,' ETC., ETC.
Doubts have been entertained as to Shakspere's religious belief,
C. MITCHELL, RED LION COURT, FLEET STREET.