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a dateless bargain to engrossing death is not the kind of metaphor a master whose sense of style never failed him would have chosen ? Shakespeare can indeed so dazzle and enchant and overwhelm us that he can do without these artist virtues. But the truth remains, if we keep on this side idolatry, that a perfect artist Shakespeare is not. He is both more and less than that. He is a force, a genius, an energy of creation, with his mind set on high things, which made him careless about blemishes of style or phrase ; he is also less than an artist in that he was, as far as we can judge, much a man of business, prepared to give his public what it liked and would pay for, and not always careful to give more. Bettering what will serve the immediate purpose is for people who are wholly artists, like Virgil ; not for people who are partly purveyors of dramatic wares, like Shakespeare. But to return to our more immediate subject. If one is to have the courage to be perfectly frank, I, for my part, should confess that I doubt whether the temperament of Shakespeare was that which makes for the use of the Grand Style, which, as we define it, is a style involving either severity of language or a noble simplicity. What could be more difficult to a nature of such measureless abundance as Shakespeare's ? For such a man to study to be quiet, to keep that mighty stream of thought and knowledge within its banks, to rein in the fiery coursers of that soaring imagination, was a task a thousand times more difficult than smaller poets can ever know. It came easier to him to say a thing again and again in a hundred brilliant ways than it comes to other men to get it once well said at all ; and every play is proof of how often he was unable to resist the glorious temptation. Yet he could resist it, consciously, or, perhaps, unconsciously, by some divine inspiration ; and all the great plays are full of lines in which a universe of thought or feeling is packed into a phrase, to stand for ever in its single simplicity or severity, the pure and unwatered wine of the Grand Style.

They come upon us wherever we open the book. There is

When I love thee not
Chaos is come again-

or his

Ah, balmy breath, that dost almost persuade
Justice to break her sword !

or the

There is a world elsewhere

of Coriolanus: or Macbeth's

She should have died hereafteror the call to Cleopatra :

The bright day is done, And we are for the dark or her answer :

Dost thou not see the baby at my breast

That sucks the nurse asleep ? or Lear's

You do me wrong to take me out of the grave; or Hamlet's

The rest is silence. They are everywhere ; one quotes them for the delight of it, not for argument. But it still remains true that such tense and concentrated force as this is not the ordinary manner of Shakespeare. His myriad-minded energy has a thousand manners, of course ; but if I am not mistaken this note of self-contained intensity, this forceful compression of large matter into a little room, is not one of the commonest. Take the poems. Mr. Saintsbury considers them all, and particularly the Sonnets, to be pure Grand Style throughout : a judgement which, with all respect, I can only find amazing. Is it really necessary to ask whether Venus and Adonis. that 'trifling foolish banquet' of poetry, is to be held to

be in the Grand Style ? A single stanza is surely answer enough :

Still she entreats, and prettily entreats,
For to a pretty ear she tunes her tale ;
Still is he sullen, still he lours and frets,
'Twixt crimson shame, and anger ashy-pale ;

Being red, she loves him best ; and being white,

Her best is better'd with a more delight. It is not a question of pleasing more or less ; it is a question of classification. Can dainty verse of this sort be by any violence brought into the same category with

Or if Sion hill
Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook that flow'd
Fast by the oracle of God;


So pass'd they naked on, nor shunn’d the sight

Of God or Angel ;
or, to keep to Shakespeare himself,

If it be so,
It is a chance which does redeem all sorrows

That ever I have felt ?
The question answers itself.

But to come to the Sonnets where Shakespeare speaks in his own person, and is often in the mood that makes the Grand Style. Can the hundred and fifty sonnets be said to be in that style as a whole, in the sense that the Iliad and the Greek tragedians and the Odes of Pindar and the Divine Comedy and the Paradise Lost as wholes are ? Are they not, as a whole, far too self-abandoned, both in luxury of fancy and passion and in the play of intellectual activity, to permit anything more than momentary appearances of the stillness of the Grand Style ? Still, no doubt they have in them great things in the great style :

Nay, if you read this line, remember not
The hand that writ it-


this huge stage presenteth nought but shows, Whereon the stars in secret influence commentand

Take all my loves, my Love, yea, take them alland

Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,

So do our minutes hasten to their endand

And brass eternal slave to mortal rageand a hundred more. But that is scarcely the prevailing note. The distinctions in these matters are delicate and difficult, but perhaps even in lines such as these there is just the suggestion of an approach to 'preciousness '-a thing very alien to the Grand Style. Is it not felt when they are placed by the side of the purest Grand Style ? Let us hear it again, this time from a poet who exhibits the extreme both of its presence and of its absence :

A slumber did my spirit seal,

I had no human fears


And while in that vast solitude to which

The tide of things has borne him. There are finer things than these in Shakespeare's sonnets very likely, but few or none, it seems to me, that ring so exactly and absolutely true to the note we are looking for, and the shadow of a shade which hints at a separation between 'No longer mourn for me when I am dead', and the pure Grand Style makes itself felt much more plainly in the majority of the Sonnets. While the Grand Style is comparatively rare, it seems to me, what may perhaps be called the ‘lovely 'style is very common :

And beauty making beautiful old rhyme
In praise of ladies dead and lovely knights-

Look what is best, that best I wish in thee ;
This wish I have; then ten times happy me!

Sweet roses do not so :
Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odours made-
To entertain the time with thoughts of love

Which time and thoughts so sweetly doth deceive. It is almost profanity to say a word of anything but delight in such lovely verses. Only, would the verse of Simonides or Pindar have enjoyed its own exquisiteness so openly as this? Do they display their charms quite so freely? Are their emotions so full of words ? Or take the most passionate poet of antiquity :

δέδωκε μέν α σελάνα
και Πληΐαδες, μέσαι δε
νύκτες, πάρα δ' έρχετ' ώρα,

εγώ δε μόνα κατεύδω. . The moon is set and the Pleiades; the night is half through her course; the time is going by; and I lie alone in my bed.

It is plainly a different style, which one may like more or less than the other, but in either case one is entitled to distinguish.

This manner of rich loveliness, as I should call it, seems to me the most frequent manner of the Sonnets, but there are many others too; the dainty manner, the manner of affected prettiness :

I tell the day, to please him thou art bright,

And dost him grace when clouds do blot the heaven ; the ingenious manner, as of a verbal or intellectual puzzle :

Now see what good turns eyes for eyes have done :
Mine eyes have drawn thy shape, and thine for me
Are windows to my breast, where-through the sun
Delights to peep, to gaze therein on thee;


If I lose thee, my loss is my love's gain,
And losing her, my friend hath found that loss ;
Both find each other, and I lose both twain,
And both for my sake lay on me this cross ;

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