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THE PRAISE OF SHAKESPEARE

SHAKESPEARE

AN ENGLISH ANTHOLOGY

COMPILED BY

C. E. HUGHES

WITH A PREFACE BY

SIDNEY LEE

METHUEN & CO.
36 ESSEX STREET W.C.

LONDON

HARD COLLEGE

Marw cage Lund

JUN 27 1904
LiDRAPY

Death makes no conquest of this conqueror ;
For now he lives in fame, though not in life.

RICHARD III., III. i. 87.

Who is it that says most? which can say more

Than this rich praise, -that you alone are you? In whose confine immured is the store

Which should example where your equal grew. Lean penury within that pen doth dwell,

That to his subject lends not some small glory ; But he that writes of you, if he can tell

That you are you, so dignifies his story; Let him but copy what in you is writ,

Not making worse what nature made so clear, And such a counterpart shall fame his wit, Making his style admired everywhere.

SONNET LXXXIV.

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PREFACE

I

BELIEVE this volume serves a useful purpose. It is

the fruit of a suggestion which I made to its compiler, Mr. Hughes, in the following circumstances.

At the beginning of last year I engaged in controversy in the Times newspaper with certain persons who laboured under the delusion that the evidence of Shakespeare's authorship of those plays and poems, which for three centuries have been published as his, was inconclusive. In defiance of the fact that the acknowledged work of Bacon, the prose writer and philosopher, proves him to be incapable of writing verse of genuine merit, some of my opponents held Bacon and no other to be responsible for those manifestations of supreme poetic genius which are associated with Shakespeare's name. Other sceptics, of less raw judgment, hesitated to commit themselves to this extravagance,they confined themselves to the slightly more plausible contention that the facts recorded of Shakespeare by contemporaries ere scanty, and that his career was clothed in a mystery, which justified wild attempts at a solution.

The whole of the sceptical argument ignored alike the results of recent Shakespearean research and the elementary truths of Elizabethan literary history. But confirmed sceptics are not easily convinced of defects of knowledge.

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