Title Thumbnail

Montaigne and Shakespeare

326 pages
Library of Alexandria
For a good many years past the anatomic study of Shakspere, of which a revival seems now on foot, has been somewhat out of fashion, as compared with its vogue in the palmy days of the New Shakspere Society in England, and the years of the battle between the iconoclasts and the worshippers in Germany. When Mr. Fleay and Mr. Spedding were hard at work on the metrical tests; when Mr. Spedding was subtly undoing the chronological psychology of Dr. Furnivall; when the latter student was on his part undoing in quite another style some of the judgments of Mr. Swinburne; and when Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps was with natural wrath calling on Mr. Browning, as President of the Society, to keep Dr. Furnivall in order, we (then) younger onlookers felt that literary history was verily being made. Our sensations, it seemed, might be as those of our elders had been over Mr. Collier's emendated folio, and the tragical end thereof. Then came a period of lull in things Shaksperean, partly to be accounted for by the protrusion of the Browning Society and kindred undertakings. It seemed as if once more men had come to the attitude of 1850, when Mr. Phillipps had written: "An opinion has been gaining ground, and has been encouraged by writers whose judgment is entitled to respectful consideration, that almost if not all the commentary on the works of Shakspere of a necessary and desirable kind has already been given to the world."1 And, indeed, so much need was there for time to digest the new criticism that it may be doubted whether among the general cultured public the process is even now accomplished.