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I T has been generally agreed that there was

once an actual Golden Age of virtue and happiness; but each successive generation has been sufficiently either modest or infelicitous to admit that they ought decidedly to place the blissful period long anterior to their own experience. Frail humanity has, however, clung to the tradition with praiseworthy tenacity; and various nations have applied the term, in a secondary sense, to the most flourishing period of their literature. With us, the phrase is usually identified with the era of Elizabeth ; and Shakspere's “As You LIKE IT" will ever form one of its most precious and conspicuous remains. Transported to the sunny glades of Arden, we "fleet the time carelessly, as they did in the Golden world;" while a feeling of peace,

benevolence, and sylvan simplicity, seems (as Sancho says of sleep) “to cover us all over like a cloak.”

Rosalind ranks among the best, or rather is the chief, of Shakspere's comic heroines. She is one of those irresistible charmers in whom gaiety and sensibility contrast and relieve each other with all the harmonious variety of an exquisite musical instrument. Her friend, the gentle Celia, represents those invaluable, though comparatively passive, creatures who are often seen in nature, gracefully clinging with entire trust and devotion to some fellow-mortal of superior intellect or greater decision of character; amply rewarded for all they can do or suffer with the simple presence of the beloved object, and a thousand times overpaid by kindness and sympathy.

Orlando is not perhaps, in general, sufficiently appreciated. He may be regarded as a perfect model of the intrinsic gentleman-modest, humane, and forgiving; yet wise, sensitive, and courageous. This is just the character that an enthusiastic girl like Rosalind would be likely to comprehend intuitively, and to fall in love with at a first interview. His humble friend and benefactor, fine old Adam, is almost unique in appropriate beauty of delineation. Every sentence he utters is indicative of sound sense and native goodness of heart. The banished Duke is worthy to complete this genial trio of unworldly beings. He is replete with the best kind of wisdom,—that which, having learned to estimate worldly men and worldly objects at their genuine value, has yet imbibed no bitterness of spirit in the trying process. Jacques also is of noble nature :-he seems (like many kindred philanthropists, who have often been thought misanthropes by society, and sometimes by themselves) to quarrel with mankind principally because they will not be so happy as he thinks they might be, and would wish to see them.

Touchstone is certainly the most amusing and intellectual of Shakspere's Fools. are ever bright, pointed, and ready for action. He is at anybody's service for an encounter of jest, and always comes off conqueror. The sylvan Duke exactly paints him :-“He uses his folly like a stalking-horse; and under the presentation of that, he shoots his wit."

The numerous minor characters in this wondrous drama are all enriched with the most skilful touches of poetry and nature. Altogether, the play will ever afford one of his sweetest repasts to the intellectual reader; and furnish, possibly, not the weakest of barriers to the encroachments of those harsher feelings that sometimes force an entrance even into the generous mind, from its inevitable exposure to what our peerless Rosalind so aptly calls “the briars of this working-day world.”

“As You Like It" was first published in the original folio of 1623. Many of the incidents are founded on the novel of “ROSALYNDE,'' by Lodge (1590).

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SCENE I.- An Orchard, near Oliver's House.

Enter ORLANDO and ADAM. Orl. As I remember, Adam, it was upon this fashion bequeathed me: by will, but a poor thousand crowns; and, as thou sayst, charged my brother, on his blessing, to breed me well : and there begins my sadness. My brother Jaques he keeps at school, and report speaks goldenly of his profit: for my part, he keeps

me rustically at home, or, to speak more properly, stays me here at home unkept: for call you that keeping for a gentleman of my birth, that differs not from the stalling of an ox? His horses are bred better; for, besides that they are fair with their feeding, they are taught their manage, and to that end riders dearly hired : but I, his brother, gain nothing under him but growth; for the which his animals on his dunghills are as much bound to him as I. Besides this nothing that he so plentifully gives me, the something that nature gave me his countenance seems to take from me: he lets me feed with his hinds, bars me the place of a brother, and, as much as in him lies, mines my gentility with my education. This is it, Adam, that grieves me: and the spirit of my father, which I think is within me, begins to mutiny against this servitude: I will no longer endure it, though yet I know no wise remedy how to avoid it.

me.

with them? What prodigal portion have I spent, that I should come to such penury?

Oli. Know you where you are, sir?
Orl. O, sir, very well: here in your orchard.
Oli. Know you before whom, sir?
Orl. Ay, better than he I am before knows

I know, you are my eldest brother; and, in the gentle condition of blood, you should so know me.

The courtesy of nations allows you my better, in that you are the firstborn; but the same tradition takes not away my blood, were there twenty brothers betwixt us: I have as much of my father in me, as you : albeit, I confess, your coming before me is nearer to his reverence.

Oli. What, boy!
Orl. Come, come, elder brother, you are too

young in this.

Enter OLIVER. Adam. Yonder comes my master, your brother.

Orl. Go apart, Adam, and thou shalt hear how he will shake me up. Oli. Now, sir! what make

you

here? Orl. Nothing : I am not taught to make any

thing. Oli. What mar you then, sir?

Orl. Marry, sir, I am helping you to mar that which God made, a poor unworthy brother of yours, with idleness. Oli. Marry, sir, be better employed, and be

naught awhile. Orl. Shall I keep your hogs, and eat husks

Oli. Wilt thou lay hands on me, villain ?

Orl. I am no villain : I am the youngest son of Sir Rowland de Bois; he was my father; and he is thrice a villain, that says such a father begot villains. Wert thou not my brother, I would not take this hand from thy throat, till this other had pulled out thy tongue for saying so; thou hast railed on thyself.

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