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THE SHAKESPEARE CYCLOPÆDIA.
Most persons, in reading Shakespeare's Immortal Works, are simply attentive to the stories they so beautifully relate, and therefore the mass of readers form but an imperfect and confused notion of the extent of his knowledge, and fail to perceive his claims to the admiration of the natural philosopher, the agriculturist, and the sportsman. THE SHAKESPEARE CYCLOPÆDIA, however, will show that Shakespeare possessed a mind so vastly comprehensive and so variously enriched, and a soul so greatly sympathising and delighting in all the works of God, that, even while employed in conceiving and maturing plots and incidents for his Plays and Poems, he could not help adverting continually to the various surrounding objects and phenomena of Nature; and it is solely owing to his incessant and beautiful allusions to them that he so pre-eminently succeeds in placing a visible world before the mental eye of his reader. Except Shakespeare, there is no dramatist, ancient or modern, whose writings would supply materials for a work like the present. All other dramatists have chosen to concern themselves with only their male and female characters, and have left the works of Nature to the scene-painter.
THE SHAKESPEARE CYCLOPÆDIA will contain abundant proof that our Poet's fruitful mind was very richly stored with the results of original observation of the various objects and phenomena of Creation; that he rose superior to the errors and superstitions of his time, and that he loved to ridicule and refute them; that he was even learned in the medicinal properties of plants, and familiar with field labours and sports.
Every care has been bestowed to render THE SHAKESPEARE CYCLOPÆDIA worthy of that encouragement which is confidently expected from all true lovers of Nature and of Nature's truest Poet. 61, FLEMING ROAD,
J. H. FENNELL. KENNINGTON PARK, SURREY.
THE SHAKESPEARE CYCLOPÆDIA will be completed in Twenty
Numbers, 8vo., price 1s. each. No. II. will be published in April.
HAMLET. What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculties! in form and moving, how express* and admirable ! in action, how like an angel! in apprehension, how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragont of animals !
Hamlet, ii., 2.
Man, the Image of his Maker, is not only the Lord of Creation, but in him is assembled and in the highest perfection, the aggregate of all endowments, powers, and senses, traceable in the remainder of the scale of the animal kingdom.
So perfect, and so peerless, are created
The Tempest, iii., 1. That in the human being are combined and perfected the best qualities of all living creatures, is a fact, corroborated by the researches of Cuvier, Lamarck, and other modern naturalists. Sir Philip Sidney touches upon this subject, but in the form
• Express, i.e., according to pattern, justly and perfectly modelled.
+ Paragon, i. e., according to the definition in Bullokar's English Expositor, 1616, "a beautifull peece, a lovely creature.” Shakespeare, however, uses the word to signify one, in beauty or symmetrical proportions, surpassing all others.
Valentine. Is she not a heavenly saint ?
Two Gentlemen of Verona, ii., 5. In several other instances, Shakespeare applies this complimentary epithet to the human race.
See Cymbeline (iii., 6, and v. 8.,, Othello (ii., 1.), Winter's Tale (v. 1.), Tempest (ii., 1), Antony and Cleopatra (i., 5), and Midsummer Night's Dream (iv., 2).
of a fable, wherein the beasts having obtained permission from Jupiter to make themselves a king, they accordingly created one possessing every creature's best quality.
“ Full glad they were, and tooke the naked sprite,
Which straight the earth yclothed in his clay:
The horse good shape; the sparrow lust to play;
Nightingale voice, entising songs to say, &c. &c.
Arcadia, Book iii. “She is her selfe of best things the collection."
Arcadia, Book i. The power of reasoning is the peculiar gift distinguishing man from all other creatures. This noble power enlightens him, and elevates, according to the extent to which it is cultivated, one man above another, in intelligence and dignity. Shakespeare, liberal in his views upon education, strongly enforces the duty of cultivating the mind by study and contemplation : HAMLET.
What is a man,
Hamlet, iv., 4. This reflection appears chiefly directed against those worldlings who pursue pleasure and wealth to the neglect of the cultivation of the mind. From youth to old age the world is too much with us all; the attractions of luxury and sensuality absorb the thoughts of some; the miserable ambition of mercantile monopoly, and the heaping up of riches, is the sole aim of others; while, such is the lottery of human life, that many who have the desire to cultivate the mind, have to toil so hard for a scanty existence, that their ignorance, however deplorable, is to be excused, for they lack the opportunities for intellectual improvement. “Let no man," says Lord Bacon, “fear lest learning should expulse business; nay, rather, it will keep and defend the possessions of the mind against idleness and pleasure, which otherwise, at unawares, may enter to the prejudice both of business and pleasure."
* Market, i.e., Merces (Latin); recompence of his time.
No one knew better than Shakespeare that, however much we may prize ordinary scholastic knowledge, the contemplative mind in retirement, away from the busy world, may, with a careful and patient observation of Nature, acquire for itself an abundant store of delightful and useful instruction :
DUKE S. Hath not old custom made this life more sweet
Than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods
And this our life, exempt from publick haunt,
As You Like It, ii., 1.
“ Thus both trees and each thing else be the bookes to a fancie."
Sidney's Arcadia, Book i.
Before entering upon the strictly philosophical part of this subject, it will not be uninteresting to observe with what comparisons Shakespeare portrays the dignity and superiority of the lord of creation. Nearly all his descriptions of man abound in beautiful similes derived from the world of nature. If he describes him excited, he is like an empty eagle," or a “lion wanting prey;" if still and surly, his visage
Does cream and mantle like a standing pool;
if a lover,
He may bestride the gossamers
if a villain with a smiling cheek, he compares him to “a goodly apple rotten at the heart;" and, when old, his arms are
Like to a wither'd pine,