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William Shakspeare, der grösste dramatische Dichter der neueren Zeit, ward am 23. April 1564 zu Stratford-on-Avon geboren, wo sein Vater als Wollhändler lebte und er bestimmt wurde, dessen Geschäft fortzusetzen. Bereits 1582 vermählte er sich mit Anna Hathaway, verliess aber in Folge von Wilddieberei 1586 seine Heimath und seine Familie und wandte sich nach London, wo er Schauspieler wurde und zuerst 1593 mit einer eigenen dramatischen Production auftrat und zwanzig Jahre hindurch durch seine Bühnenstücke den höchsten Beifall seiner Nation erwarb. 1603 wurde er Mitdirector des Globe- Theaters und trat nun von der Bühne als Schauspieler ab; 1613 zog er sich nach seiner Vaterstadt zurück, um den Rest seiner Tage in ländlicher Abgeschiedenheit hinzubringen. Leider starb er schon in der vollen Kraft seiner Jahre an seinem zwei und funfzigsten Geburtstage 1616 zu Stratford.

Shakspeare ausführlich und nach allen Seiten hin zu charakterisiren, gestattet theils der beschränkte Raum nicht, theils ist dies in Deutschland so oft und von so grossen Meistern geschehen, dass wir doch nur lüngst Gesagtes wiederholen könnten. Hinsichtlich seines Einflusses auf die dramatische Poesie der Engländer überhaupt, verweisen wir auf das, was wir in der Einleitung darüber bemerkten. Das Treffendste, was je in wenigen Worten über ihn gesagt wurde, hat ein nicht minder grosser Geist, Goethe, ausgesprochen. (S. Wilhelm Meister's Lehrjahre 3. B. 11. Cap.) Möge es hier folgen.

„Sie (Shakspeare's Dramen) scheinen ein Werk eines himmlischen Genius zu sein, der sich den Menschen nähert, um sie mit sich selbst auf die gelindeste Weise bekannt zu machen. Es sind keine Gedichte. Man glaubt vor den aufgeschlagenen, ungeheuern Büchern des Schicksals zu stehen, in denen der Sturmwind des bewegtesten Lebens saust und sie mit Gewalt rasch hin und wieder blättert.“

„Es scheint, als wenn er (Shakspeare) uns alle Räthsel offenbarte, ohne dass man doch sagen kann: hier oder da ist das Wort der Auflösung. Seine Menschen scheinen natürliche Menschen zu sein und sie sind es doch nicht. Diese geheimnissvollen und zusammengesetztesten Geschöpfe der Natur handeln vor uns in seinen Stücken als wenn sie Uhren wären, deren Zifferblatt und Gehäuse man von Krystall gebildet hätte; sie zeigten nach ihrer Bestimmung den Lauf der Stunden an, und man kann ungleich das Räder - und Federwerk erkennen, das sie treibt.”

Ausser seinen Dramen hat Shakspeare noch zwei epische Gedichte, The Rape of Lucretia und Venus and Adonis, so wie eine Reihe von Sonetten und Liedern hinterlassen. Die neueste, vollständigste und eleganteste Ausgabe seiner sämmtlichen Werke ist: The Pictorial Edition of the Works of Shakspere. Edited by Charles Knight. London (1839 fgde) 8 Bde in gr. 8.


When in disgrace with fortune and mens eyes, So then I am not lame, poore, nor dispised, I all alone beweepe my outcast state,

Whilst that this shadow doth such substance give, And trouble deafe heaven with my bootlesse cries, That I in thy aboundance am suftic'd, And looke upon my selfe, and curse my fate, And by a part of all thy glory live. Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,

Looke what is best, that best I wish in thee; Featured like him, like him with friends possest! This wish I have; then ten times happy me! Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope, With what I most injoy contented least: Yet in these thoughts my selfe almost despising, Haply I thinke on thee, and then my state, (Like to the larke, at breake of day arising

No longer mourne for me when I am dead, From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven's gate; Than you shall heare the surly sullen bell For thy sweet love remembred, such welth Give warning to the world that I am fled


From this vile world, with vilest wormes to dwell: That then I scorne to change my state with Nay, if you read this line, remember not


The hand that writ it; for I love you so,
That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot,
If thinking on me then should make you woe.
O if (I say) you looke upon this verse,
When I, perhaps, compounded am with clay,

Doe not so much as my poore name reherse; Let me confesse that we two must be twaine,

But let your love even with my life decay : Although our undevided loves are one :

Least the wise world should looke into your So shall those blots that do with me remaine, Without thy helpe, by me be borne alone,

And mocke you with me after I am gone, In our two loves there is but one respect, Though in our lives a seperable spight, Which though it alter not love's sole effect, Yet doth it steale sweet houres from love's delight. I may not ever more acknowledge thee, Least my bewailed guilt should doe thee shame; And I will comment upon that offence;

Say that thou didst forsake me for some fault, Nor thou with publike kindnesse honour me,

Speak of my lamenesse, and I straight will hault; Unlesse thou take that honour from thy name:

Against thy reasons making no defence.
But do not so; I love thee in such sort,
As thou being mine, mine is thy good report. To set a forme upon desired change,

Thou canst not, love, disgrace me halfe so ill,
As Ile myself disgrace: knowing thy will,
I will acquaintance strangle, and looke strange;
Be absent from thy walkes; and on my tongue
Thy sweet beloved name no more shall dwell;

Let I (too much profane) should do it wrong, As a decrepit father takes delight

And haply of our old acquaintance tell. To see his active child doe deeds of youth

For thee, against my selfe Ile vow debate, So I made lame by fortune's dearest spight, For I must nere love him whom thou dost hate, Take all my comfort of thy worth and truth, For whether beautie, birth, or wealth, or wit, Or any of these all, or all, or more, Intitled in their parts do crowned sit, I make my love engrafted to this store:

Alas, 'tis true, I have gone here and there, 'Tis better to be vile, than vile esteem'd,
And made my selfe a motley to the view, When not to be, receives reproach of being,
Gor'd mine owne thoughts, sold cheape what is And the just pleasure lost, which is so deemid,

most deare, Not by our feeling, but by others' seeing. Made old offences of affections new.

For why should others' false adulterat eyes Most true it is, that I have lookt on truth Give salutation to my sportive blood? Askaunce and strangely; but by all above, Or on my frailties why are frailer spies, These blenches gave my heart another youth, Which in their wills count bad what I thinke And worst assaies proved thee my best of love.

good? Now all is done, have what shall have no end:

I am that I am; and they that lerell Mine appetite I never more will grinde

At my abuses, reckon up their owne: On newer proofe, to trie an older friend, I may be straight, though they themselves be A god in love, to whom I am confined.

bevell; Then give me welcome, next iny heaven the By their rancke thoughts my deeds must not be best,

showne; Even to thy pure and most most loving breast. Unlesse this generall evill they maintaine,

All men are bad and in their badnesse raigne.


O for my sake doe you with fortune chide,

Tyr'd with all these, for restfull death I cry; The guiltie goddess of my harmfull deeds,

As, to behold desart, a begger borne, That did not better for my life provide,

And needie nothing trim'd in jollitie, Than publick meanes, which publick manners

And purest faith unhappily forsworne, breeds.

And gilded honour shamefully misplast, Thence comes it that my name receives a brand,

And maiden vertue rudely strumpeted, And almost thence my nature is subbu'd

And right perfection wrongfully disgraced, To what it workes in, like the dyer's hand.

And strength by limping sway disabled,
Pitty me then, and wish I were reneu'd;

And art made tongue-tied by authoritie,
Whilst, like a willing patient, I will drinke
Potions of eysell, 'gainst my strong infection;

And folly, (doctor like,) controuling skill,
No bitternesse that I will bitter thinke,

And simple truth, mis- calde simplicitie,

And captive Good attending captaine Ill: Nor double pennance to correct correction.

Tyrd will all these, from these would I be Pitty me then, deare friend, and I assure ye,

gone, Even that your pitty is enough to cure me.

Save that, to dye, I leave my love alone.

Your love and pittie doth th' impression fill Or shall I live your epitaph to make?
Which vulgar scandall stampt upon my brow; Or you survive when I in earth am rotten?
For what care I who calls me well or ill, From hence your memory death cannot take
So you ore-green my bad, my good allow? Although in me each part will be forgotten.
You are my All - the-world, and I must strive Your name from hence immortall life shall have,
Toknow my shames and prayses from your tongue; Though I, (once gone,) to all the world must dye:
None else to me, nor I to none alive.

The earth can yeeld me but a common grave, That my steel'd sense or changes; right or wrong. When you intombed in men's eyes shall lie: In so profound abisme I throw all care

Your monument shall be my gentle verse, Of others voyces, that my adder's sense Which eyes not yet created shall ore-read; To critic and to flatterer stopped are.

And tongues to be, your being shall rehearse: Mark how with my neglect I doe dispense: When all the breathers of this world are dead,

You are so strongly in my purpose bred, You still shall live (such vertue hath my pen,) That all the world besides me thinks y are Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths dead.

of men,

Two loves I have of comfort and despaire, Never beleeve, though in my nature raign'd
Which like two spirits doe suggest me stil); All frailties that besiege all kinds of blood,
The better angel is a man right faire,

That it could so preposterously be stain'd,
The worser spirit a woman, colour'd ill.

To leave for nothing all thy summe of good; To winne me soone to hell, my female evill For nothing this wide universe I call, Tempteth my better angell from my side,

Save thou, my rose; in it thou art my all. And would corrupt my saint to be a devill, Wooing his puritie with her fowle pride. And whether that my angell be turn'd feend, Suspect I may, yet not directly tell;

That thou art blam'd shall not be thy defect,
But being both from me, both to each friend, For slander's marke was ever yet the fair;
I guesse one angell in another's hell.

The ornament of beautie is suspect,
Yet this shall I ne'er know, but live in doubt, A crow that dies in heaven's sweetest ayre:
Till my bad angel fire my good one out. So thou be good, slander doth but approve

Thy worth the greater, being woo'd of time;

For canker vice the sweetest buds doth love, Those pretty wrongs that libertie commits, And thou present'st a pure unstayned prime. When I am sometime absent from thy heart, Thou hast pass'd by the ambush of young dayes, Thy beautie and thy yeares full well befits, Either not assail'd, or victor being charged; For still temptation followes where thou art. Yet this thy praise cannot be so thy praise, Gentle thou art, and therefore to be wonne, To tye up envy, evermore inlarged: Beautious thou art, therefore to be assail'd; If some suspect of ill mask'd not thy show, And when a woman wooes, what woman's sonne Then thou alone kingdomes of hearts shouldst Will sourly leave her till she have prevailed.

owe. Aye me! but yet thou might'st my seate forbeare And chide thy beautie and thy staying youth, Who lead thee in their ryot even there Where thou art foret to break a two-fold truth ; What potions have I drunke of Syren teares,

Her's, by thy beautie tempting her to thee, Distill'd from limbecks foule as hell within, Thine, by thy beautie being false to me. Applying feares to hopes, and hopes to feares,

Still loosing when I saw my selfe to win!

What wretched errors hath my heart committed, That thou hast her, it is not all my griefe, Whilst it hath thought it selfe so blessed never! And yet it may be said I loved her dearly; How have mine eyes out of their spheares beene That she hath thee, is of my wayling cheef,

A losse in love that touches me more nearly. In the distraction of this madding fever!
Loving offenders, thus I will excuse yee: O benefit of ill! now I finde true
Thou doest love her, because thou know'st I That better is by evill still made better;

love her;

And ruin'd love, when it is built anew, And for my sake even so doth she abuse me, Growes fairer than at first, more strong, far greater. Suffering my friend for my sake to approve her. So I returne rebuked to my content, If I loose thee, my losse is my love's gaine, And gaine by ills thrice more than I have spent. And loosing her, my friend hath found that losse; Both finde each other, and I loose both twaine, And both for my sake lay on me this crosse:

But here's the joy; my friend and I are one; That you were once unkind, befriends me now; Sweet flattery! then shee loves but me alone. And for that sorrow, which I then did feele,

Needes must I under my transgressions bow,

Unless my nerves were brasse or hammer'd steele. O never say that I was false of heart,

For if you were by my unkindnesse shaken, Though absence seem'd my flame to quallifie. As I by yours, y’have pass'd a hell of time; As easie might I from my selfe depart,

And I, a tyrant, have no leasure taken As from my soule which in thy breast doth lye: To waigh how once I suffer'd in your crime. That is my home of love: if I have ranged, O that our night of woe might have remembred Like him that travails, I returne againe; My deepest sence, how hard true sorrow hits, Just to the time, not with the time exchanged, And soone to you, as you to me, then tendred So that my selfe bring water for my staine. The humble salve which wounded bosomes fits!

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