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LONDON:
J. W. PARKER, 445, WEST STRAND.

1848.

HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY

FROM
THE BEQUEST OF
EVERT JANSEN WENDELL

1918

LONDON:

PRINTED BY J. FLEMMING, 3, SALTERS' HALL COURT, CANNON STREET, CITY.

ADVERTISEMENT.

We all see—many of us feel too—that one of the main problems of our personal and social life in the present day, is, how to reconcile Thought and Action, so that the latter shall be rational, deliberative, and conscientious, and yet not paralysed, nor enfeebled, by a too great sense of responsibility and fear of consequences. In the following pages I have endeavoured to point out how Shakspeare is the great practical teacher of his countrymen in this, as in so much else ; and how Coleridge is here, as elsewhere, our best interpreter of the universal language of genius into the vernacular of his, and our own, times. If I shall have helped any one to understand Hamlet, and so himself, and the world he lives in, better than before, he will grant to my many deficiencies of authorship a pardon, which, on any other ground, I neither ask for, nor deserve.

SHAKSPEARE'S HAMLET.

1.-I REMEMBER to have read somewhere of one of our English Bishops, that he said he owed his bishopric to his study of two books—the Bible and Shakspeare. And the saying was a weighty one: there is a sort of special relationship between the two, nor need we be suspected of erring from the common faith of Christian men that the divine book stands in one sense alone—nec viget quicquam simile aut secundumbecause we look on Shakspeare's Plays as in some sense a counterpart to it, an earth answering to its heaven. As the Bible is the revelation of the mind, and will, and ways, of God in his creation and government of mankind, so in Shakspeare we have specimens of the men themselves, who are the subjects of that government, exhibited; and all the varied workings of their human hearts, their vices and their virtues, their passions and their energies, their deepest thoughts and their most transient sensibilities, laid bare. As it has been said, the characters of Shakspeare resemble those clocks, in which you not only see the face and the hands, but have also the whole machinery, with its secret springs and wheels, discovered to you through the transparent case. It is undoubtedly one main object of the Bible to effect this same end, but it is by exhibiting man, and the life of man, as they are seen by God; while Shakspeare

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