SHAKESPEARE'S BANQUET OF SENSE
Alas! why lent not heaven the soul a tongue?
Nor language, nor peculiar dialect,
To make her high conceits as highly sung?
But that a fleshly engine must unfold
A spiritual notion. . . . . . .
O, nature! how dost thou defame in this
Our human honours, yoking men with beasts,
And noblest minds with slaves; thus beauty's bliss,
Love and all virtues that quick spirit feasts
Surfeit on flesh; and thou that banquet'st minds,
Most bounteous mistress, of thy dull-tongued guests
Reap'st not due thanks.
-- Chapman OVID'S BANQUET OF SENSE.
"SELF-SCHOOLED, self-scanned, self-honored, self-secure," Arnold calls Shakespeare. These epithets have poetic validity, though we no longer, like critics of the seventeenth century, consider Shakespeare a literary changeling, owing parentage and schooling only to Nature and Fancy. But in establishing his real parentage and the probable extent of his schooling, in the whole process of humanizing him, historical scholars sometimes unintentionally give the impression that Shakespeare's real aim in writing was obligingly to illustrate all the literary and social conventions of his day. Ever since Theobald they have been invaluable in revealing sources and analogies, usually less convincing in determining the metamorphosis of those sources in Shakespeare's own work. And this second task, though it can be accomplished with only relative success, is more important. The