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Portrait of William Shakspeare, drawn from the Bust in Stratford Church.

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For lofty sense

Creative fancy, and inspiration keen

Through the deep windings of the human heart,
Is not wild Shakspeare thine and Nature's boast?"

Thomson. "Heaven-born Genius acts from something superior to rules, and antecedent to rules; and has a right of appeal to Nature berself.' Mrs. Montague.

IT has been frequently and justly remarked, that no department in the dignified and almost boundless circle of literature, excites so much general interest as biography. From what cause this arises it is not expedient, in this place, to inquire; but it is unquestionably true that every man, who pretends to an elevation of mind above the vulgar level, evinces an eager curiosity relative to those who have at any time astonished the world by their exploits, or enlightened it by their genius and wisdom. Not contented with the most ample information respecting their public career, the philosopher endeavours to penetrate the uncertainty which usually veils the incidents of private life. The genealogy of their families, the events of their childhood, the nature of their education, their personal appearance, their manners, their habits, their friendships, their amusements, and even their foibles, constitute subjects of solicitude and investigation. Nor ought such inquiries to be rashly stigmatized as b

puerile, or neglected as unimportant. To judge of an individual through the glare of his public actions only, is to estimate character by a confined and deceptive light. It is like determining the natural colour of the skin through the medium of a prism, and under the influence of a single ray.

Every species of literary composition ought to be devoted to some useful end. The legitimate province of the biographer, is to impart that kind of information which is calculated to inform the understanding and ameliorate the heart. It is his duty to state every illustrative fact connected with the person whose life he portrays; to rouse the ardent mind to emulation, by the display of such qualities as do honour to human nature, and to point out and reprove those failings which detract from the perfection of human character. It is also his province to trace the progress of genius from the cradle to the grave, to observe the gradations of its developement into bloom, and to mark those peculiarities by which it is distinguished; those accidents by which it is attracted or repelled, incited or repressed. Could such a sketch be drawn of Shakspeare with the unerring pencil of truth, directed by some corresponding mind, what an interesting scene would be unfolded for the contemplation of philosophy.

When we reflect on these circumstances, and consider the defective state of biographical knowledge in general, we cannot refrain from expressing the deepest regret that so few illustrious men have thought proper to bequeath to the world memoirs of their own lives. Such legacies, if more frequently bestowed, would be of incalculable benefit to society; and would tend to prevent a vast deal of useless, because for the most part, uncertain and indefinite controversy.

But if the want of faithful biography be a subject of ordinary lament, how greatly is it to be deplored when it regards men endowed with minds of the very highest order. Men who, like the comets of heaven, appear only at distant periods to attract the gaze of admiring uations, and to shed an unusual glory over the intellectual system. Of such beings every characteristie

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