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these, the lecturer examined the play in detail, contrasting the description of the story as Shakspere hath it, with the real history by admitted authorities. In passing, he pointed out an anachronism, where John was made to speak of the “thunder of his cannon;" whereas gunpowder was not invented till a hundred years later, and the first battle in which cannon was used was said to have been that of Cressy, fought in the reign of Edward III.
In speaking of the cordial hatred which Eleanor, the mother of King John, displayed towards Constance, the mother of Prince Arthur, the lecturer remarked that the enmity did not appear to have arisen solely out of the still prevailing fashion of mothers to dislike their daughters-inIaw, but was to be explained by her jealousy of the power which Constance would exercise within the realm of England during Arthur's minority: Referring to the character of “the Bastard,”—King Richard's illegitimate son- -the lecturer said that Shakspere, while reviewing the scenes he was describing with consummate skill—the spirit of these chivalrous times of high words and base acts-furnished us also with a running commentary on the whole in the witty sarcasms of the Bastard, who ridiculed the secret springs of politics, without repudiating them ; for he owned that it was his object to make his fortune by similar means.
He wound up the second act with a railing speech upon
“ commoding," that is expediency, which, in his bantering fashion, he alluded to thus : Bast.-"Well, while I am a beggar, I will rail,
And say there is no sin but to be rich;
Gain, be my lord, for I will worship thee.” Then, as to Constance, the lecturer quoted Mrs. Jameson's true and beautiful conception of her character.
« That which strikes us as the principal attribute, of Constance,"
power-power of imagination, of will, of passion, of affection, of pride ; the moral energy, that faculty which is principally exercised in self-control, and gives consistency to the rest—is deficient; or, rather, to speak more correctỉy, the extraordinary development of sensibility and imagination, which lends to the character its rich poetical
colouring, leaves the other qualities comparatively subordinate. Hence it is that the whole complexion of the character, notwithstanding its amazing grandeur, is so exquisitely feminine. The weakness of the woman, who by the very consciousness of that weakness is worked up to desperation and defiance, the fluctuations of temper ant bursts of sublime passion, the terrors, the impatience, and the tears, are all most true to feminine nature. The energy of Constance, not being based upon strength of character, rises and falls with the tide of passion. Her haughty spirit swells against resistance, and is excited into frenzy by sorrow and disappointment; while, neither from her towering pride nor her strength of intellect, can she borrow patience to submit, or fortitude to endure.” The lecturer pointed out, by reference to the text, how well the feminine critic had pourtrayed the character. John's bold repudiation of the Pope's interference by the mission of the legate Pandulph, was illustrated by a quotation of the text wherein he questions the right of the “ meddling priest” to demand any explanation of his conduct. The Bastard's ridicule of the Duke of Austria's lion's skin, which the Bastard thought with Constance should be a calf's skin, was well handled; and Constance's poignant grief for her “pretty Arthur,” when taken prisoner, was likewise signalised by a quotation from the text. With this lament she quits the scene, but Shakspere throughout the play did not allow her to be forgotten; for wherever Arthur appeared, there too was the spirit of Constance, like a guardian angel, watching over him. In this way did the lecturer bring his audience to the last scene in the act and the close of his lecture, quoting as he progressed the finest and most pathetic passages of the play. Shakspere, up to a certain point, though leading the sympathies of the audience to Constance and her son, had not influenced their feelings to hatred towards John. But when he treacherously sought the murder of the youth, and showed his devilish disposition in endeavouring to compass the dastardly act, all sympathy was gone. He was no longer looked upon as a king, but as the cowardly assassin wanting the courage to perpetrate the deed which his heart approved. The moving incident of the visit of Hubert to Arthur in his prison, for the purpose of putting out his eyes with the red-hot irons, was given in detail, and with quotations by the lecturer
with great effect upon the audience: and so also in the terrible self-accusing denunciation of royal wrath against the supposed murderer of the Prince--Hubert. To attempt, however, to pursue the drama to the end, or even to convey a faint notion of the ability of the representation of the various characters by the lecturer, would be vain in so inadequate a notice. Before closing his lecture, he remarked upon the absence of all allusion to the Magna Charta, which he considered an extraordinary omission in such a play as Richard III. Finally, the lecturer said that the world within which we lived was a world of progress and of change, and it not unfrequently happened that the trifles of to-day expanded in a succeeding age into questions of grave importance, whilst the absorbing interests of the present hour sometimes lost their significance in the generation that followed. What one age esteemed as wisdom, the next often regarded as folly. It was possible, therefore, nay probable, that a day would arrive when we, who accounted ourselves so wise, might come to be considered fools. Man was a proud and short-sighted being. He believed that he governed the world, when in reality the world governed him. When Galileo first taught that the planet which we inhabited revolved round the sun, the then Pope published a decree declaring the theory to be false. But that did not make it the less true. The world did not any the less steadily and surely perform its annual revolution ; nor could the Pope himself, as Paschal remarks, notwithstanding his credulity, help going round with it. Things must and would take their appointed courses, regulated by One who was above all earthly powers. The lecturer wished to give a short history of the Magna Charta and its provisions, and show the liberties and privileges it had secured to this country, but he refrained from doing so at that late hour of the evening. To have produced it, to have preserved it, to have matured it-constituted the immortal claim of England to the esteem of mankind. Her Bacons and Shaksperes, her Miltons and Newtons, with all the truth which they had revealed, and all the generous virtue which they had inspired, were of inferior value when compared with the subjection of men and their rulers to the principles of justice ; if, indeed, it were not more true, that those mighty spirits could not have been formed except under equal laws, nor roused to
full activity without the influence of that spirit which the “Great Charter” breathed over their forefathers. After what they had heard, they might conclude that John was an unmanly, base, and cruel king ; the most contemptible monarch, perhaps, that ever occupied the throne of England, and utterly unworthy of a place in the memory of posterity ; but two works had contributed to render his name immortal—the deed of the “ Magna Charta," and the Drama of William Shakspere.
[Recited at the Manchester Free Grammar School.]
HAKSPERE !—’midst many who, with rapid wing,
Have sought far-famed Parnassus' lofty steep;
No lordly line was thine ; yet many a king
Far from the turmoil of the busy town,
The lorely room once tenanted by thee,
,—even the very clay
And now, though many a year has onward roll'd
*“Since Shylock first refused the proffered gold."- Merchant of Venice.
Act. IV. Scene I. + The kings of Egypt are buried in the Pyramids.