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And brought the Oak to this misery ;
For nought might they quitten him from decay,
For fiercely the good man at him did lay.
The block* oft groaned under his blow,
And sighed to see his near overthrow.
In fine, the steel had pierced his pith,
'Then down to the ground he fell forth with.
His wondrous weight made the ground to quake,
Th' earth sunk under him, and seem'd to shake :
There lieth the Oak pitied of none.

Now stands the Breere like a lord alone,
Puffd up with pride and vain pleasance ;
But all this glee had no continuance :
For eftsoons† winter 'gan to approach,
The blustering Boreas did encroach,
And beat upon this solitary Breere,
For now no succour was seen him neere.
Now 'gan he repent his pride too late,
For naked left and disconsolate,
The biting frost nipt his stalk dead,
The watry wet weighed down his head,
And heaped snow burdened him so sore,
That now upright he can stand no more ;
And being down is trod in the durt
Of cattle, and brouzed, and sorely hurt.
Such was th' end of this ambitious Breere,
For scorning eld -


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O youths and virgins : O declining old:
Oh pale misfortune's slaves : O ye who dwell
Unknown with humble quiet : ye who wait
In courts, or fill the golden seat of kings :
O sons of sport and pleasure: O thou wretch
That weep'st for jealous love, or the sore wounds
Of conscious guilt, or Death's rapacious hand
Which left thee void of hope : Oye who roam
In exile ; ye who through the embattled field
Seek bright renown, or who for noble palms
Contend, the leaders of a public cause ;

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Approach : behold this marble, know ye not
The features ? Hath not oft his faithful tongue
Told you the fashion of your own estate,
The secrets of your bosom? Here then, round
His monument, with reverence while you stand,
Say to each other, " This was Shakspeare's form:
Who walked in every path of human life ;
Felt every passion) and to all mankind
Doth now, will ever, that experience yield
Which only his own genius could acquire."

Inscription from a bust of Shakspeare.--Akenside.

This dramatic poet is justly esteemed by those who speak the English language, as the most interesting writer in the world. There are few so highly endowed as to be able to comprehend the wealth and magnitude of Shakspeare' genius in all its variety and comprehensiveness, but there are none perhaps within even the remotest influence of English literature, that have not felt the power of this mighty master in some of those numerous passages of his works which have passed into the popular mind. The best furnished and most profound intellects meet with congenial thoughts in Shakspeare; and all human experience, from the monarch's to the labourer's lot, is recorded and expressed by his immortal muse, so that every


may find its own feelings and circumstances somewhere illustrated by his inspiration.

From the accounts which are preserved of Shakspeare's early life it appears that he had few advantages of direct instruction, though the knowledge contained in books popular at that time in England, lent him its little light; and the talent " that Nature did him give," supplied in him every defect of human learning, and enabled him to leave an inheritance of thought to future ages, which nothing but the dissolution of “the great globe itself" can annihilate.

Dryden says of him, " He was a man who, of all modern and, perhaps, ancient poets, had the largest and most comprehensive soul. All the images of nature were still present to him, and he drew them not laboriously, but luckily. When he describes any thing, you more than see it, you feel it too. He needed not the spectacles of books to read nature ; he loooked inwards and found her there." But,

"Tis wonderful,
That an invisible instinct should frame him
To poetry unlearned ; honour untaught;

Civility not seen in other ; knowledge
That wildly grew in him, yet yielded crops

As though it had been sown. Shakspeare was born at Stratford upon Avon in Warwickshire, 1564. The documents of his life are very imperfect. Rowe, the poet, published a memoir of him a century after his death. From this it appears that Shakspeare removed himself to London, and that he was an actor as well as a writer of plays. Shakspeare however returned to Stratford. purchased a house there, and died in that town. In the church of Stratford, a monument to his memory still remains. The following inscription on this monument is engraved beneath a bust of Shakspeare:

"Stay, passenger, why goest thou so fast ?
Read, if thou can'st whom envious death has placed
Within this monument—Shakspeare : with whom
Quick nature died; whose name doth deck this tomb
Far more than cost; since all that he hath writ
Leaves living art, but art to serve his wit.

Obit A. D. 1616— Ætatis 53. die 23 April." Shakspeare's thirty-five plays were first collected and published in 1623, in folio. The title page of this folio was embellished by an engraving, which was said to be a likeness of the author, and attached to it were these lines by Ben Johnson, addressed to the reader :

“ This figure that thou seest here put,
It was for gentle Shakspeare cut,
Wherein the graver had a strife
With nature to outdo the life :
O, could he but have drawn his wit
As well in brass, as he hath hit
His face; the print would then surpass
All that was ever writ in brass.
But since he cannot—reader, look

Not on his picture, but his book." From 1709, when Rowe published Shakspeare's plays, to the present time, (1842,) they have been often published, and are disseminated throughout the reading world of our language; and the more they are studied, the more are they admired and enjoy. ed. The fine arts have derived important aid from Shakspeare. The stage has been exalted, literature has been illustrated and adorned by him, his scenes have been delineated an infinite number of times by the pencil, and they embellish almost every house and every library.

Milton's Sonnet to Shakspeare is among the most interesting tributes to his memory :

“ What needs my Shakspeare for his honoured bones
The labour of an age in piled stones,
Or that his hallowed reliques should be hid
Under a star-y-pointing pyramid ?
Dear son of memory, great heir of fame
What need'st thou such weak witness of thy name?
Thou in our wonder and astonishment
Has built thyself a live-long monument.
For whilst to the shame of slow endeavouring art
Thy easy numbers flow, and that each heart
Hath from the leaves of thy unvalued book
Those Delphic lines with deep impression took ;
Then thou our fancy of itself bereaving,
Dost make us marble with too much conceiving ;
And so sepulchered, in such pomp dost lie,
That kings for such a tomb would wish to die."

English, Roman, and Grecian History, furnish part of the subjects of Shakspeare's plays; and some of his plots are taken from Italian romances that had been translated into English ; but

upon what foundation soever he built, the superstructure is original and beautiful.

Though Shakspeare's poetry is the delight and pride of all who speak our language, it is in general too abstruse and difficult for foreigners and young persons," says Mr. Edgworth, "It exhibits the most lively pictures of external nature, and the most perfect representations of human passions. But his language is frequently obscure, from its containing many words and phrases which are now out of common use ; besides, his writings relate so much to the passions of men, and the concerns of princes and politicians, that a person must have what is called a knowledge of the world, and must have had some experience of the effects of human passions, before he can perceive the beauties, or have a relish for the excellencies of Shakspeare." Parts of King John, of Henry IV. and of Cymbeline, are in some measure free from these difficulties ; and are selected for the purpose of introducing Shakspeare to young readers.

Shakspeare wrote dramatic pieces upon the history of England; they are now called plays, though formerly they were called histories ; each of them takes in several years; and they carry the imagination of the spectator from England to France, and back again, many times in the space of one night. King John is one of these dramas.


John, surnamed Sans Terre, or Lackland, was the fourth son of Henry II., King of England. John succeeded to the throne upon the death of his brother, Richard I. Arthur, Duke of Brittany, was the son of Geoffrey, John's elder brother ; and, according to the laws of England, the legal successor of his uncle Rich. ard. The unfortunate Arthur, it is supposed, was murdered by the command of John, but the manner of his death is unknown. Philip, King of France, was Arthur's maternal uncle, and publicly accused John of murdering his nephew ; but John declared that Arthur fell from the walls of a castle where he was confined, into a river which flowed beneath, and thus lost his life. Shakspeare has made a most affecting scene of John's cruelty to the poor youth. That and the subsequent passages from Shakspeare's play of King John which complete Arthur's history, follow in this place.

KING JOHN, ACT IV., SCENE I. Hubert, the assassin, employed to put out the young prince's eyes. Arthur, and attendants. Scene, a room in the Castle.

Hubert. Heat me these irons hot; and look thou stand
Within the arras : when I strike my foot
Upon the bosom of the ground, rush forth,
And bind the boy, which you shall find with me,
Fast to the chair : be heedful : hence, and watch.

1. Attend. I hope your warrant will bear out the deed.
Hub. Uncleanly scruples ! Fear not you: look to't.-

[Exeunt Attendants. Young lad, come forth ; I have to say with you.

Enter Arthur.
Arth. Good morrow, Hubert.
Hub. Good morrow, little prince.

Arth. As little prince (having so great a title
To be more prince,) as may be.--You are sad.
Hub. Indeed, I have been merrier.

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