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To attain to the standard of " Perfect Possession," the reader ought to have an intimate and ready knowledge of the subject.

The student ought, first of all, to read the play as a pleasure; then to read it over again, with his mind upon the characters and the plot; and lastly, to read it for the meanings, grammar, etc.

With the help of the scheme, he can easily draw up for himself short examination papers (1) on each scene, (2) on each act, (3) on the whole play.

1. The Plot and Story of the Play. (a) The general plot;

(b) The special incidents.

2. The Characters: Ability to give a connected account of all that is done, and most of what is said by each character in the play.

3. The Influence and Interplay of the Characters upon

each other.

(a) Relation of A to B and of B to A ;

(b) Relation of A to C and D.

4. Complete Possession of the Language.

(a) Meanings of words;

(b) Use of old words, or of words in an old meaning;

(c) Grammar;

(d) Ability to quote lines to illustrate a grammatical point.

5. Power to Reproduce, or Quote.

(a) What was said by A or B on a particular occasion;

(b) What was said by A in reply to B;

(c) What argument was used by C at a particular juncture;

(d) To quote a line in instance of an idiom or of a peculiar meaning.

6. Power to Locate.

(a) To attribute a line or statement to a certain person on a certain occasion;

(b) To cap a line;

(c) To fill in the right word or epithet.


"William Shakespeare. He was born, it is thought, April 23, 1564, the son of a comfortable burgess of Stratford-on-Avon. While he was still young, his father fell into poverty, and an interrupted education left the son an inferior scholar. He had 'small Latin and less Greek.' But by dint of genius and by living in a society in which all sorts of information were attainable, he became an accomplished man. The story told of his deer-stealing in Charlecote woods is without proof, but it is likely that his youth was wild and passionate. At nineteen, he married Ann Hathaway, seven years older than himself, and was probably unhappy with her. For this reason, or from poverty, or from the driving of the genius that led him to the stage, he left Stratford about 1586-1587, and went to London at the age of twenty-two, and, falling in with Marlowe, Greene, and the rest, became an actor and a playwright, and may have lived their unrestrained and riotous life for some years. "His First Period. It is probable that before leaving Stratford he had sketched, a part at least, of his Venus and Adonis. It is full of the country sights and sounds,

of the ways of birds and animals, such as he saw when wandering in Charlecote woods. Its rich and overladen poetry and its warm coloring made him, when it was published, 1591-1593, at once the favorite of men like Lord Southampton, and lifted him into fame. But before that date he had done work for the stage by touching up old plays, and writing new ones. We seem to trace his 'prentice hand' in many dramas of the time, but the first he is usually thought to have retouched is Titus Andronicus, and, some time after, the First Part of Henry VI.

"Love's Labor's Lost, the first of his original plays, in which he quizzed and excelled the Euphuists in wit, was followed by the rapid farce of the Comedy of Errors. Out of these frolics of intellect and action he passed into pure poetry in the Midsummer Night's Dream, and mingled into fantastic beauty the classic legend, the mediæval fairyland, and the clownish life of the English mechanic. Italian story then laid its charm upon him, and the Two Gentlemen of Verona preceded the southern glow of passion in Romeo and Juliet, in which he first reached tragic power. They complete, with Love's Labor's Won, afterwards recast as All's Well That Ends Well, the love plays of his early period. We may, perhaps, add to them the second act of an older play, Edward III. We should certainly read along with them, as belonging to the same passionate time, his Rape of Lucrece, a poem finally printed in 1594, one year later than the Venus and Adonis.


The same poetic succession we have traced in the

poets is now found in Shakespeare. The patriotic feeling of England, also represented in Marlowe and Peele, now seized on him, and he turned from love to begin his great series of historical plays with Richard II., 1593–1594. Richard III. followed quickly. To introduce it and to complete the subject, he recast the Second and Third Parts of Henry VI. (written by some unknown authors), and ended his first period with King John; five plays in a little more than two years.

"His Second Period, 1596–1602.- In The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare reached entire mastery over his art. A mingled woof of tragic and comic threads is brought to its highest point of color when Portia and Shylock meet in court. Pure comedy followed in his retouch of the old Taming of the Shrew, and all the wit of the world, mixed with noble history, met next in the three comedies of Falstaff, the First and Second Parts of Henry IV., and the Merry Wives of Windsor. The historical plays were then closed with Henry V., a splendid dramatic song to the glory of England.

"The Globe theatre, in which he was one of the proprietors, was built in 1599. In the comedies he wrote for it, Shakespeare turned to write of love again, not to touch its deeper passion as before, but to play with it in all its lighter phases. The flashing dialogue of Much Ado About Nothing was followed by the far-off forest world of As You Like It, where the time fleets carelessly,' and Rosalind's character is the play. Amid all its gracious lightness steals in a new element, and the

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