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and delight to the transcendent art displayed by Shakespeare in the use he has made of it. Lodge must have read “ As You Like It,” or seen it acted, and it could not have been with wholly pleasant feelings that he witnessed this transformation of his narrative. “In the days of James I.," says the poet Campbell,
George Heriot, the Edinburgh merchant, who built a hospital still bearing his name, is said to have made his fortune by purchasing for a trifle a quantity of sand that had been brought as ballast by a ship from Africa. As it was dry, he suspected from its weight that it contained gold, and he succeeded in filtering a treasure from it. Shakespeare, like Heriot, took the dry and heavy sand of Lodge and made gold out of it.”
Touchstone, Jaques, and, above all, Rosalind, “heavenly Rosalind,” are the life of the play, but Celia's character, though subordinate, has no small sweetness and
and if it were not that “As You Like It” is a
to be unhesitatingly accepted with all its improbabilities, we should grudge giving such a woman to Oliver. But the play carries us into a poet's dreamland, in which everything that happens is the fittest that could happen, where the incongruous or impossible is more acceptable, and if our mood be the right one, more natural, than the commonplace, and “where they fleet the time carelessly, as they did in the golden world.” “The reality is in the characters and in the sentiment, not in the circumstances or situation.” There is not one of us who will not be the better for escaping for a time into the forest of Arden, for where in Shakespeare shall we find sweeter glimpses of nature, better wisdom, a more healthful mirth, a larger charity ?
The careful reader will note some marks of haste in the comedy, but they are of slight consequence, and there is, indeed, no drawback to the delight which it will afford to every lover of poetry. For the scene of action it is useless to fix a locality. We may be sure that no traveller will find the forest of Arden “ in the north-east of France between the Meuse and Moselle," any more than he will find it with its lioness and palm tree in the old Warwickshire Arden of which Drayton sings the praise. It may be added, that "As You Like It” abounds more, perhaps, than any other of Shakespeare's comedies with those household words and lovely poetical expressions which live in the memory and adinit of daily application.
DUKE, living in banishment.
lords attending on the banished duke.
servants to Oliver.
CORIN:s, } shepherds.
Lords, Pages, and Attendants, etc.
Forest of Arden.
Orchard of Oliver's house.
Enter Orlando and Adam.
fashion ; bequeathed me by will but poor a