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Shakspere was the greatest delver into the mysterious mind of man and Nature, and sunk his intellectual plummet deeper into the ocean of thought than any mortal that ever lived, before or after his glorious advent upon the earth. He was a universal ocean of knowledge, and the ebb and flow of his thoughts pulsated on the shores of every human passion.
He was a mountain range of ideals, and has been a quarry of love, logic and liberty for all writers and actors since his day and age, out of which they have built fabrics of fame.
No matter how often and numerous have been the "blasts" set off in his rocky foundations, the driller, stone mason and builder of books have failed to lessen his mammoth resources, and every succeeding age has borrowed rough ashlers, blocks of logic and pillars of philosophy from the inexhaustible mine of his divine understanding.
He was an exemplification and consolidation of his own definition of greatness:
"Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them."
The poet finds in Shakspere a blooming garden of perennial roses, the painter finds colors of heavenly hues, the musician finds seraphic songs
and celestial aspirations, the sculptor finds models of beauty and truth, the doctor finds pills and powders of Providence, the lawyer finds suits and briefs right and reason, the preacher finds proph ecies superior to Isaiah or Jeremiah, the historian finds lofty romance more interesting than facts and the actor "struts and frets" in the Shaksperian looking-glass of to-day, in the mad whirl of the mimic stage, with all the pomp and glory of departed warriors, statesmen, fools, princes and kings.
Shakspere was grand master of history, poetry and philosophy-tripartite principles of memory, imagination and reason. He is credited with composing thirty-seven plays, comedies, tragedies and histories, as well as Venus and Adonis, The Rape of Lucrece, The Lovers' Complaint, The Passionate Pilgrim and one hundred and fifty-four classical sonnets, all poems of unrivaled elegance.
What a royal troop of various and universal characters leaped from the portals of his burning brain, to stalk forever down the center of the stage of life, exemplifying every human passion!
Shakspere never composed a play or poem without purpose, to satirize an evil, correct a wrong or elevate the human soul into the lofty atmosphere of the good and great. His villains and heroes are of royal mold, and while he lashes with whips of scorn the sin of cupidity, hypocrisy and ingratitude, he never forgets to glorify love, truth and patriotism.
Virtue and vice are exhibited in daily, homespun dress, and stalking abroad through the centuries, the generous and brave nobility of King Lear, Cæsar, Othello, and Hamlet, will be seen in
marked contrast to Shylock, Brutus, Cassius, Iago, Gloster and Macbeth. His fools and wits were philosophers, while many of his kings, queens, dukes, lords and ladies were sneaks, frauds and murderers.
Vice in velvet, gold and diamonds, suffered under the X-rays of his divine phrases, while virtue was winged with celestial plumes, soaring away into the heaven of peace and bliss. He was the matchless champion of stern morality, and the interpreter of universal reason.
Shakspere was a multifarious man, and every glinting passion of his soul found rapid and eloquent expression in words that beam and burn with eternal light. The stream of time washes away the fabrics of other poets, but leaves the adamantine structure of Shakspere erect and uninjured.
Being surcharged, for three hundred and forty years, with the spirit and imagination of Shakspere, I shall tell the world about his personal and literary life, and although some curious and unreasonable people may not entirely believe everything I relate in this volume, I can only excuse and pity their judgment, for they must know that the Ideal is the Real!
The intellectual pyramids of his thought still rise out of the desert wastes of literary scavengers and loom above the horizon of all the great writers and philosophers that preceded his advent on the globe.
The blunt, licentious Saxon words and sentences in the first text of Shakspere, have been ruthlessly expurgated by his editorial commentators, adding,
no doubt, to the beauty and decency of the plays, but sadly detracting from their original strength.
Pope, Jonson, Steevens and even Malone have made so many minute, technical changes in the Folio Plays of 1623, printed seven years after the death of Shakspere, that their presumptive elucidation often drivels into obscurity.
Editorial critics, with the best intention, have frequently edited the blood, bone and sinews of the original thought out of the works of the greatest authors. While attempting to simplify the text for common, rough readers, they mystify the matter by their egotistical explanation, and while showing their superior research and classical learning, they eliminate the chunk logic force of the real author.
For thirty years Shakspere studied the variegated book of London life, with all the human oddities, and when spring and summer covered the earth with primroses, flowers and hawthorn blossoms, he rambled over domestic and foreign lands, through fields, forests, mountains and stormy
With the fun of Falstaff, the firmness of Cæsar, the generosity of King Lear and the imagination of Hamlet, Shakspere also possessed the love-lit delicacy of Ophelia, Portia and Juliet, reveling familiarly with the spirits of water, earth and air, in his kingdom of living ghosts. He borrowed words and ideas from all the ancient philosophers, poets and story tellers, and shoveling them, pellmell, into the furnace fires of his mammoth brain, fused their crude ore, by the forced draught of his fancy, into the laminated steel of enduring form and household utility.
The rough and uncouth corn of others passed through the hoppers of Shakspere's brain and came out fine flour, ready for use by the theatrical bakers. With the pen of pleasure and brush of fancy he painted human life in everlasting colors, that will not fade or tarnish with age or wither with the winds of adversity. The celestial sunlight of his genius permeated every object he touched and lifted even the vulgar vices of earth into the realms of virtue and beauty.
Shakspere was an intellectual atmosphere that permeated and enlivened the world of thought. His genius was as universal as the air, where zephyr and storm moved at the imperial will of this Grand Master of human passions.
Principles, not people, absorbed the mammoth mind of Shakspere, who paid little attention to the princes and philosophers of his day. Schools, universities, monks, priests and popes were rungs in the ladder of his mind, and only noticed to scar and satirize their hypocrisy, bigotry and tyranny with his javelins of matchless wit. The flower and fruit of thought sprang spontaneously from his seraphic soul.
He flung his phrases into the intellectual ocean of thought, and they still shine and shower down the ages like meteors in a midnight sky. Like the busy bee, he banqueted on all the blossoms of the globe and stored the honey of his genius in the lofty crags of Parnassus.
Shakspere and Nature were confidential friends, and, while she gave a few sheaves of knowledge to her other children, the old Dame bestowed upon the "Divine" William the harvest of all the ages.