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And so he 'll die, and, rising so again,
When I shall meet him in the court of heaven
I shall not know him. Therefore never, never
Must I behold my pretty Arthur more.

Pand. You hold too heinous a respect of grief.
Const. He talks to me, that never had a son.
K. Phi. You are as fond of grief, as of your child.

Const. Grief fills the room up of my absent child, Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me, Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words, Remembers me of all his gracious parts, Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form. Then, have I reason to be fond of grief. Fare you well! Had you such a loss, as I, I could give better comfort, than you do.” Here we have the transmuting virtue there is in poetry that it can make suffering spiritu ally attractive, draw a beatitude out of intense misery. Carrying dormant in his broad, deep manhood the joys and sorrows his fellow-men are liable to, when Shakespeare depicted a Lear or a Constance a poetic light shone upon his fellow-feeling and wakened it to such rhythmic moans that the deepest pangs of the heart become transfigured into beauty, mankind eagerly welcoming them to its breast, and appropriating them in their exquisiteness as a purifying cordial. In such passages Shakespeare's doing may be likened to that of some radiant Titan who, grasping the trunk of an

a

oak, through a latent might in his nervous arm should by shaking it make it, instead of acorns, drop glittering diamonds, to the wonder, delight, and enrichment of the beholders.

This great play abounds in scenes of tender or terrible pathos. What a picture of the tartarean interior of an assassin's brain, bemastered by thoughts too damnable for utterance, when King John puts Arthur into the keeping of Hubert !

“I had a thing to say, — But let it go :
The sun is in the heaven, and the proud day,
Attended with the pleasures of the world,
Is all too wanton, and too full of gawds,
To give me audience. — If the midnight bell
Did, with his iron tongue and brazen mouth
Sound one unto the drowsy race of night,
If this same were a church-yard where we stand,
And thou possessed with a thousand wrongs ;
Or if that surly spirit, melancholy,
Had bak'd thy blood, and made it heavy, thick,
(Which, else, runs tickling up and down the veins,
Making that idiot, laughter, keep men's eyes,
And strain their cheeks to idle merriment,
A passion hateful to my purposes ;)
Or if that thou could'st see me without eyes,
Hear me without thine ears, and make reply
Without a tongue, using conceit alone,
Without eyes, ears, and harmful sound of words :
Then, in despite of brooded watchful day,
I would into thy bosom pour my thoughts.

This scene, like all his greatest scenes, is pure Shakesperean invention. Arthur's end is shrouded in mystery, which only the conscience of John can penetrate. History does not know how his death was brought about. It knows that John took him prisoner; and that was the last heard of him.

With such a picture before us as that of Constance, all glistening with poetic tears, we pause and say, “here the poet must have reached the maximum of excellence," when, only a few pages further, listening, in exquisite awe, to the talk of John to Hubert, we find ourselves reveling with delight in the inmost hideousness of the blackest of murderers. And still a few pages further, this Proteus — far more mobile and mutable than the Greek seagod transforms himself out of the ghastly, royal assassin, not into Prince Arthur, — for no Prince ever spoke such words as does this “pretty child” of Shakespeare when pleading with Hubert for his eyes,

but into one of the most heavenly creations of Art, and yet so natural as to give no hint of Art, so simple and soulful that it stands for every brightminded, innocent boy that ever was or ever will be, and yet, so poetical that, while within

the bounds of nature, it transcends by its truthful perfection the reality of any reported boyhood.

Nevertheless the chief power of the play is Faulconbridge. Him Shakespeare makes the plenipotentiary of England, to represent and act out English backbone, courage, common sense, patriotism. 'Tis he whom, in the battle with the invading French, Salisbury describes :

“That misbegotten devil Faulconbridge,
In spite of spite, alone upholds the day.”.

In the scene over the dead body of Arthur, when the nobles, in their holy rage, draw their swords and would slay Hubert on the instant, Faulconbridge interposes :

Pem. Cut him to pieces !
Bast. Keep the peace, I say !
Sal. Stand by, or I shall gall you, Faulconbridge.

Bast. Thou wert better gall the devil, Salisbury.
If thou but frown on me, or stir thy foot,
Or teach thy hasty spleen to do me shame,
I'll strike thee dead. Put up thy sword betime !
Or I'll so maul you and your toasting-iron,
That you shall think the devil is come from hell."

This is one side of his strength; here is another. When the angry lords are gone Faulconbridge thus addresses Hubert:

Bast. . . . . Knew you of this fair work?
Beyond the infinite and boundless reach
Of mercy, if thou didst this deed of death,
Art thou damn’d, Hubert.

Hub. Do but hear me, sir !

Bast. Ha ! I'll tell thee what :
Thou art damn'd as black — nay, nothing is so black;
, Thou art more deep damn'd, than prince Lucifer.
There is not yet so ugly a fiend of hell
As thou shalt be, if thou didst kill this child.

Hub. Upon my soul,

Bast. If thou didst but consent
To this most cruel act, do but despair !
And, if thou want'st a cord, the smallest thread,
That ever spider twisted from her womb,
Will serve to strangle thee; a rush will be
A beam to hang thee on; or would'st thou drown thyself,
Put but a little water in a spoon,
And it shall be as all the ocean,
Enough to stifle such a villain up.
I do suspect thee very grievously.

Hub. If I in act, consent, or sin of thought,
Be guilty of the stealing that sweet breath,
Which was embounded in this beauteous clay,
Let hell want pains enough to torture me !
I left him well.

Bast. Go, bear him in thine arms !”

And then he exclaims, in words that every day of every year carry the thoughts and feelings of thousands of strugglers when startled and confounded by the crimes and moral confusions that glare suddenly upon them :

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