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THE MORAL INFLUENCE
ILLUSTRATIONS FROM HAMLET.
THE REV. THOMAS GRINFIELD, M.A.
PUBLISHED BY LONGMAN, BROWN, AND CO.;
AND IN COVENTRY BY JOHN MERRIDEW.
MORAL INFLUENCE OF SHAKSPEARE'S PLAYS.
The splendour of SAAKSPEARE's genius, combined with the fascination of dramatic compositions, has made him, of all existing writers, the most extensively and permanently popular favourite among English readers of every description. As a painter of human characters and passions, developed in circumstances the most varied and interesting, he is acknowledged to have surpassed all his rivals, ancient or modern. So marvellous a genius, exerted in a sphere of such extended interest, possesses an undisputed claim on our attention and sympathy ;-a claim founded on the sentiment that awakened a burst of applause in a Roman Theatre, “ Homo sum; Humani nihil à me alienum puto;" _“ Human myself, nothing human can fail to interest me.” Our participation of humanity is sufficient to insure our subjection to Shakspeare's power over human hearts.
It becomes, then, a matter of serious importance that a writer, so popular and so powerful, should be turned to our profit; that we should read him with a wise and discerning spirit, and derive the benefit, moral and intellectual, which his masterly paintings of mankind are fitted to impart.
Some, I am aware, among those who are swayed by religious sentiments, will be disposed to smile at the mention of moral benefit, to be derived from a writer, considerably open to moral censure. It may be justly demanded that those who profess to condemn the reading of Shakspeare, should first have duly and intelligently studied bim themselves, and then have ceased to read a writer whom they would fain prohibit others from enjoying. Otherwise, they are either incompetently ignorant, or hypocritically inconsistent: such accusers have no