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first surprise he was loved by all except tne meanest souls among them; and such men only love themselves. “Sweet" and "gentle” are the endearing epithets which they delighted to apply to him. In his position, to have produced this effect upon high and low he must have united a native dignity to a singular kindness of heart, evenness of temper, and graciousness of manner. His ready wit and his cheerfulness in social intercourse are particularly mentioned in tradition. To these qualities it is plain that he added a sympathy that was universal,- a gift which more than any other wins the love of all mankind. And, indeed, it is to the effect of this moral quality that we owe the complete and multitudinous manifestation of his intellectual greatness. The Reverend Mr. Davies, writing after 1688, says that “he died a Papist.” If he became a member of the Church of Rome, it must have been after he wrote Romeo and Juliet, in which he speaks of "evening mass”; for the humblest member of that Church knows that there is no mass at vespers. The expression used by Davies implies, indeed, that Shakespeare died in a faith in which he had not been educated. But his report is improbable. In the overmuch righteousness of the puritanical period in which Shakespeare's last years were passed, a moderate degree of cheerfulness and Christian charity, to say nothing of conformity to the Church of England, might easily have brought
188 MEMOIRS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE.
the reproach of Papistry upon men less open to that suspicion than a retired player. Shakespeare, although he seems to have been a man of sincere piety, seems also to have been without religious convictions. His works are imbued with a high and heartfelt appreciation of the vital truths of Christianity; but nowhere does he show a leaning towards any form of religious observance, or of church government, or toward any theological tenet or dogma. No Church can claim him ; no simple Christian soul but can claim his fellowship. Such as this imperfect record shows was William Shakespeare; a man who adorned an inferior and dignified an equivocal station in life, and who raised himself from poverty and obscurity to competence and honorable position by labors which, having their motive, not in desire of fame, but in duty and in manly independence, have placed him upon an enduring eminence to which in these after ages sane ambition does not aspire.
HE student of language, or the mere intelli
gent observer of the speech of his own day, cannot but notice how surely men supply themselves with a word when one is needed. The new vocal sign is sometimes made, but is generally found. A lack is felt, and the common instinct, vaguely stretching out its hands, lays hold of some common, or mayhap some half-forgotten or rarely used word, and, putting a new stamp upon it, converts it into current coin of another denomination, a recognized representative of new intellectual value. Purists may fret at the perversion, and philologers may protest against the genuineness of the new mintage ; but in vain. It answers the needs of those who use it, and that it should do so is all they require. A good example of the perversion of a word from its true etymological meaning is the modern use of "several.” This adjective not long ago conveyed only the idea of severance, and was generally applied but to two objects of one kind. Thus in old plays it is very common to find two personages directed to