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knew everything, like Dr. Pancrace, in Molière's comedy of the “ Mariage Forcé,” “ fables, mythology and history, grammar, poetry, rhetoric, dialectics and sophistry; mathematics, arithmetic, optics, oneiro-criticism and physics.” A legal system, a treatise on mental maladies, a complete guide-book to country life, lessons on ornithology, entomology, and botany have all been extracted from his works; while from the propriety with which he uses technical terms appertaining to military matters, to hunting and to jurisprudence, it has been concluded that he must have been a soldier, a poacher, and a lawyer. Several of his titles to the professorship of universal knowledge have escaped my memory, but those already mentioned make up a tolerably long list, in which Shakespeare figures as a doctor, a lawyer, an agriculturist, a zoologist, a botanist, a hunter and a soldier.

A complete ethnological system has also been discovered in his works by Mr. O'Connell, the author of a New Exegesis of Shakespeare,” published in 1859, according to whom" that which constitutes the novel and peculiar greatness of Shakespeare, is that being the first to rise to a wider and, at the same time, deeper contemplation of human nature, he has depicted, not only individuals and families, but has also sketched the character of the principal European races.

While Æschylus and the ancient drama limited the sphere of action to the family, the founder of the modern drama carried it further, and included larger groups in conformity with the general progress made in the knowledge of men and of nature. What Asia Minor and Hellas were to the Athenians, Europe, in its vast extent, was to the English people in the days of the Renaissance. The subjects of the Æschylean drama were the house of Pelopides and that of Labdacides; those of Shakespeare were the Germanic, Italian, and Celtic races : in this system, Iago represents the character of the Italian,

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Hamlet the Teutonic, and Macbeth the Celtic race." * It was this exaggerated notion of Shakespeare's learning and philosophy which also gave rise to the famous paradox, brought forward from time to time by some lunatic, that Shakespeare never existed, and that his name was only a fictitious one, adopted by the most learned and philosophical thinker of the time, Francis Bacon !

To rehabilitate Shakespeare as a Latin scholar was a task that lay very close to the hearts of his commentators, and they entered upon it with such eagerness and simplicity, that the disinterested observer feels quite bewildered, and tries in vain to decide which of the two sides is the more ridiculous—the one which Shakespeare's presumed ignorance rendered vainglorious of its own learning, or the other which thought the poet's glory would be enhanced by showing that he might have carried off a prize for Latin verse. As a sample of the extremely acrimonious language in which those of Coleridge's school speak of “the detractors of Shakespeare's learning,” may be quoted the passage in which Knight, the well-known editor and critic of Shakespeare, expresses his appreciation of Dr. Farmer's essay :

“He wrote an essay on the learning of Shakespeare which has not one passage of solid criticism from the first page to the last, and if the name and the works of Shakespeare were to perish, and one copy could be miraculously preservel, the only inference from the book would be, that William Shakespeare was a very obscure and ignorant man whom some misjudging admirers had been desirous to exalt into an ephemeral reputation, and that Richard Farmer was a very distinguished and learned man who had stripped the mask off the pretender.”

That such a passage should ever have been written is almost inconceivable, not on account of the hard measure dealt out to Dr. Farmer, but because of the singular notion implied in it, that if Dr. Farmer were right in alleging Shakespeare's ignorance of languages, the poet would be a mere pretender to the crown of fame. For my part, I am most willing to grant Shakespeare's acquaintance with Greek and Latin, not so much for the honour of the poet, as to gratify Mr. Knight, since he takes the matter so much to heart; I believe, and will give my reasons for believing further on, that Shakespeare at all events knew Latin,-only, in truth, the strange arguments with which this view has sometimes been upheld makes one doubt whether it can possibly be the truer one.

* Littré, "Littérature et Histoire."

In the second part of “ Hamlet,” Polonius, in introducing the players to the Prince, praises their skill, and says, that for them,“ Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light;" that simply is, as the German critic Delius justly remarks, “ They can act with facility both the comic Plautus and the tragic Seneca.” There is no hidden subtlety of meaning in the two adjectives, heavy and light. But Knight discovers in them an admirably profound and concise definition of the talent of Seneca and of Plautus.

“In ‘Hamlet,'” he says, “Shakespeare gives in a word the characteristics of two ancient dramatists; his criticism is decisive as to his familiarity with the originals, “Seveca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light.”

In the “Comedy of Errors ” (Act V., Sc. 1), a servant rushes in, crying

“O mistress, mistress, shift and save yourself!
My master and his man are both broke loose,
Beaten the maids a-row, and bound the doctor,
Whose beard they have singed off with brands of fire ;
And ever as it blazed they threw on him

Great pails of puddled mire to quench the hair." This, it appears, is an imitation of Virgil, for in the twelfth book of the “ Æneid ” (lines 298, and following), we read :

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“ Corinæus took a lighted brand from the altar, and at the moment when Ebusus was about to strike him he threw it in his face, the flames surrounded him, and his huge beard caught fire and burnt with a great smell of burning.” Thus, whenever the incident of a beard maliciously set on fire occurs in literature, we must go back to Virgil as its source; as, for instance, in “ Tristram Shandy," where Sterne shows us Susannah setting fire with her candle to Dr. Slop's wig (Vol. VI., Ch. III.), who, in a passion, flings in her face the cataplasm that had been prepared for little Tristram. Again, the passage in which Shakespeare, in “ As You Like It,” has described the death of a stag, and “the big, round tears coursing one another down his innocent nose” (Act II., Sc. 1), must presumably be derived from the seventh book of the "Æneid ;”—and yet, is it not possible that so great a poacher might have seen such a sight for himself?

But when we find Knight placing a passage in which Shakespeare puts the eulogy of blows into Dromio's mouth, side by side with one in which Cicero celebrates the praises of learning, we begin to think that we are dreaming, and rub our eyes and read the paragraph over again :

““ When I am cold he heats me with beating; when I am warm he cools me with beating; I am waked with it when I sleep; raised with it when I sit; driven out of doors with it when I go from home; welcomed home with it when I return' ('Comedy of Errors,' Act IV., Sc. 4.): ‘Literature,' says Cicero,' is the exercise of youth and the charm of old age; adorning fortune, it also offers in adversity a refuge and a consolation ; the delight of the domestic hearth, easily enjoyed everywhere, it bears us company at night, travelling, and in the country.'

As to Greek authors, Knight hardly ventures to affirm positively that Shakespeare read them in the

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* Hæc studia adolescentiam agunt, senectutem oblectant secundas res ornant, adversis perfugium ac solatium præbent, delectant domi, non impediunt foris, pernoctant nobiscum, peregrinantur, rusticantur.

original, but he evidently wishes to intimate as much to his readers. When comparing Shakespeare's misanthrope with that of Lucian, he complacently passes in review the numberless points of resemblance between them, and significantly observes that no translation of Lucian had appeared in Shakespeare's time; as, however, the subject of Timon the Misanthrope was popular before then, and had even appeared on the stage, Knight is obliged to admit that Shakespeare may have known it in its principal details without having had recourse to the original in Greek.

In the historical drama of “ Henry V.” (Act I., Sc. 2) we read :

“ While that the armed hand doth fight abroad,
The advised head defends itself at home;
For argument, through high, and low, and lower,
Put into parts, doth keep in one concent;
Congreeing in a full and natural close,

Like music.” Then, after a very poetical comparison of the “work of honey-bees” to a well-governed state, there follows a series of similes, all tending to set forth the truth that,

“So may a thousand actions, once afoot,
End in one purpose, and be all well borne

Without defeat." The same idea is met with in Plato's “ Republic," as well as in a fragment, preserved by Augustine, of Cicero's long-lost treatise, “De Republica." * Knight, in his

* Theobald was the first of Shakespeare's commentators to whom it occurred to quote this passage, which runs as follows: "Ut in fidibus ac tibiis atque cantu ipso ac vocibus, concentus est quidam tenendus ex distinctis sonis, quem immutatum ac discrepantem aures eruditæ ferre non possunt, isque concentus ex dissimillimarum vocum moderatione concors tamen efficitur et congruens: sic ex summis et infimis et mediis interjectis ordinibus, ut sonis, moderata ratione civitas consensu dissimillimarum concinit, et quæ harmonia a musicis dicitur in cantu, ea est in civitate concordia, arctissimum atque optimum omni in republica vinculum incolumitatis : quæ sine justitia nullo pacto esse potest."

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