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to tipus, mas ok her finisit,
1601C triat our pc por ilja, 1 l, N WI.. Ir
Many of this is la llei
It has been generally agreed that there was once an actual Golden Age of virtue and happiness; but each successive generation has been sufficiently either modest or infelicitous to admit that they ought decidedly to place the blissful period long anterior to their own experience. Frail humanity has, however, clung to the tradition with praiseworthy tenacity; and various nations have applied the term, in a secondary sense, to the most flourishing period of their literature. With us, the phrase is usually identified with the era of Elizabeth ; and Shakspeare's "As You LIKE IT” will ever form one of its most precious and conspicuous remains. Transported to the sunny glades of Arden, we “fleet the time carelessly, as they did in the Golden world;" while a feeling of peace, benevolence, and sylvan simplicity, seems (as Sancho says of sleep) “to cover us all over like a cloak.” Rosalind ranks among the best, or rather is the chief, of Shakspeare's comic heroines. She is one of those irresistible charmers in whom gaiety and sensibility contrast and relieve each other with all the harmonious variety of an
exquisite musical instrument. Her friend, the gentle Celia, represents those invaluable, though comparatively passive, creatures who are often seen in nature, gracefully clinging with entire trust and devotion to some fellow-mortal of superior intellect or greater decision of character; amply rewarded for all they can do or suffer with the simple presence of the beloved object, and a thousand times overpaid by kindness and sympathy.
Orlando is not perhaps, in general, sufficiently appreciated. He may be regarded as a perfect model of the intrinsic gentleman — modest, humane, and forgiving; yet wise, sensitive, and courageous. This is just the character that an enthusiastic girl like Rosalind would be likely to comprehend intuitively, and to fall in love with at a first interview. His humble friend and benefactor, fine old Adam, is almost unique in appropriate beauty of delineation. Every sentence he utters is indicative of sound sense and native goodness of heart. The banished Duke is worthy to complete this genial trio of unworldly beings. He is replete with the best kind of wisdom, that which, having learned to estimate worldly men and worldly objects at their genuine value, has yet imbibed no bitterness of spirit in the trying process. Jacques also is of noble nature:- he seems (like many kindred philanthropists, who have often been thought misanthropes by society, and sometimes by themselves) to quarral with mankind principally because they will not be so happy as he thinks they might be, and would wish to see them.
Touchstone is certainly the most amusing and intellectual of Shakspeare's Fools. His weapons are ever bright, pointed, and ready for action. He is at anybody's service for an encounter of jest, and always comes off conqueror. The sylvan Duke exactly paints him . — “He uses his folly like a stalking-horse; and under the presentation of that, he shoots his wit."
The numerous minor characters in this wondrous drama are all enriched with the most skillful touches of poetry and nature. Altogether, the play will ever afford one of his sweetest repasts to the intellectual reader; and furnish, possibly, not the weakest of barriers to the encroachments of those barsher feelings that sometimes force an entrance even into the generous mind, from its inevitable exposure to what our peerless Rosalind so aptly calls “the briars of this working-day world."
“As You LIKE IT” was first published in the original folio of 1623. Many of the incidents are founded on the novel of “ROSALYNDE,” by Lodge (1590).
PERSONS REPRESENTED.' Duke, living in exile. FREDERICK, Brother to the Duke, and Usurper of his
} Servants to OLIVER.
and other Attendants.