Death’s Jest-Book which inspire sentiments of awe and a sense of overpowering sublimity: and yet each of these grand divisions has its minor component parts; each elaborately ornamented with the counterfeit of some agreeable image in nature, or figures that owe their being alone to a wild fancy, sometimes light and joyous, sometimes fearfully hideous — often satirical, grotesque or ludicrous. The choice and method of combining these materials so essential to each art, are again, alike characteristic: they arise from that disposition to interpret the phœnomena of nature as types in reference to humanity which is so strikingly expressed in modern poetry and philosophy.
Nothing is to be so assiduously avoided in the cultivation of taste than a sectarian narrow-heartedness, which can be fairly attributed to those only who persist in deterioration or eulogy of any literature or single production without reference to and out of connection with the people and the period in which it originated. Free from all dread of such an imputation, then be it here fearlessly pronounced once for all, that the Shakspearian form of the Drama, under such unimportant modifications as the circumstances of our times demand, is the best, nay, the only English one: and arduous as the task may be, the observation of his example is the only course which can ever insure to the dramatist any real popularity among his countrymen. To many this assertion will appear neither novel nor necessary — that it is the latter, at least, the remarkable facts resulting from an examination of our dramatic library will prove: that, with scarce one exception, but that of a living writer who will occur to the reader,* the generations of dramatists that have existed since the times of James the first have assimilated the forms of their pieces to the French, the Greek, the Spanish &c, but never thought of recurring to the old and only canon.
These remarks it is to be hoped the favourable reader will apply with the greatest modification to the judgement of the poem before him. This is undoubtedly a very faulty one, nor is it intended to be otherwise; it is offered as a specimen of what might be called the florid Gothic in poetry, which the author desires to leave alone and hopes therefore, probably quite superfluously, that it will meet with no imitators. It is written for those who can find entertainment in it — and in the humble hope that the greater number of critics (or, to speak more properly) reviewers will be kind enough to find it guilty of almost every literary offence according to their critical judgement; and thus assure the