THE CHRISTMAS SEASON. 35
would have to be set her promotion of a wisdom whose lessons are for all time;—against the tears which she caused to flow, the human anguish which she inflicted, and the weary pining hours of the captives whom she made, would stand the tears of thousands dried away, many and many an aching heart beguiled of its sorrow, and many a captive taught to feel that
" Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage ;"—
all the chords of human feeling touched with a hand that soothes as did the harp of David—all the pages of human suffering stored with consolations!
To any one who will amuse himself by looking over the miracle-plays and masques which were replaced by the more regular forms of dramatic entertainment, and will then regale himself by the perusal of " Gammer Gurton's Needle," or " Ferrex and Porrex," which came forward with higher pretensions in the beginning of this reign,—there will appear reason to be sufficiently astonished at the rapid strides by which dramatic excellence was attained before its close, and during the next,—even without taking Shakspeare into the account at all. But when we turn to the marvels of this great magician, and find that, in his hands, not only were the forms of the drama perfected, but that—without impeding the action or impairing the interest invested in those forms, and besides his excursions into the regions of imagination and his creations out of the natural world,—he has touched every branch of human knowledge, and struck into every train of human thought,—that, without learning, in the popular sense, he has arrived at all the results, and embodied all the wisdom, which learning is only useful if it teaches,—that we can be
placed in no imaginable circumstances,__i under the influence
of no possible feelings, of which we do not find exponents (and such exponents !—" in sweetest music,") on his page,—and above all, when we find that all the final morals to be drawn from aH his writings are hopeful ones,—that all the lessons which all his agents—joy or sorrow, pain or pleasure,—are made alike to teach, are lessons of%oodness,—it is impossible to attribute all this to aught but a revelation, or ascribe to him any character but that