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“A Book about Shakspeare is a literary want” of England as much as of Germany; and especially a work written on the high principles of æsthetical criticism. In this country, indeed, much labour has been spent of late years upon Shakspeare, but it has confined itself chiefly, if not exclusively, either to elucidating the external history of the works of our great national dramatist, or to philological illustrations of his allusions to the temporary matters of by-gone customs, costume, and phraseology. Little, if any thing, has been done since the days of Coleridge, Hazlitt, Charles Lamb, and Wilson, to trace the eternal principles and ideas which gave birth to and still vitalize the imperishable productions of Shakspeare. And although the high praise of bringing about a truer estimate of the dramatic genius of Shakspeare, and of the artistic perfection of his compositions, must be awarded to Coleridge, Hazlitt, and the rest, still it was from the purer and deeper fountain of German criticism that they themselves drew the clear waters of a refined taste and exquisite judgment with which they irrigated the literary mind of England.
In England, Shakspeare is read by many, and is talked of by more, but it is in Germany that he is studied, and studied too on the pregnant and instructive principles of a truly phi