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and my mind greatly misgave me that the Bottle
might be wrecked. At last to my great joy, I
received notice of his safe arrival, and immediately
went down to Saint Katharine's Docks, and
found him in a slate of honourable captivity in
the Custom House.

The wine was mere vinegar when I set it
down before the generous Englishman
probably it had been something like vinegar when I
took it up from Giovanni Carlaverobut not a
drop of it was spilled or gone. And the
Englishman told me, with much emotion in his face
and voice, that he had never tasted wine that
seemed to him so sweet and sound. And long
afterwards, the Bottle graced his table. And
the last time I saw him in this world that misses
him, he took me aside in a crowd, to say, with
his amiable smile: "We were talking of you
only to-day at dinner, and I wished you had been
there, for  I had some claret up in Carlavero's


AN ignorant British public has long taken it
for granted that Shakespeare wrote the play of
Hamlet. It is time the confiding public should be
undeceived, and forced by direct evidence to
acknowledge that, although Shakespeare did indeed
supply certain crude materials for a play of that
namematerials incongruous, wild, and full of
anachronismsthe real play, shaped, squared,
and harmoniously arranged according to the
Unities, was written by Ducis, and first played
at the Théâtre-Français in Paris, in seventeen
hundred and sixty-nine.

It is to be hoped that an obstinate British
public will not pretend ignorance of the name
of Ducis; this would exhibit the national
prejudice against foreigners in a deplorable light,
and, moreover, would show an ingratitude and
a want of appreciation of a great literary service,
unworthy of a generous people. Our own duty,
however, as faithful exponents of a fact not
universally acknowledged, obliges us as a matter
of routine to state that Jean François Ducis was
born at Versailles in seventeen hundred and
thirty-three; that he was the associate and friend
of Thomas and of Florian; that he succeeded
Voltaire in the fauteuil of the Académie Française
in seventeen hundred and seventy-nine; that
besides writing an infinite number of epistles
and minor poems, he performed the kind office
of reconstructing in French, and in accordance
with the Unities, the mass of incongruities
collected by Shakespeare as plays, and called
Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, Macbeth,
King John, Othello. He did something
of the same kind for Sophocles with his
play of Œdipus, although Sophocles ought
certainly to have known all about the Unities

The complete works of Ducis were collected
for the lirst, time in eighteen hundred and
eighteen, two years after his death; and the
enthusiastic editor of an edition published at
Brussels by Wahlen and Company, imperial
publishers, explains the whole state of the
case, as between Shakespeare and Ducis so
clearly, and to an unprejudiced British mind
with such ingenuous fairness, that I cannot do
better than lay his exposition at the outset
before the reader:

"Shakespeare, almost entirely debarred of education,
writing in the midst of a still barbarous people,
in a language scarcely formed, and for a stage
utterly without order, was either ignorant of, or
disdained those rules, and that dramatic affinity,
the observance of which distinguishes our theatre;
and what is perhaps more grievous, he often allied
with the truest and most exalted beauties, now the
fault of obscenity, and now the vice of affectation.
Ducis, with an art which would have been more
appreciated if the difficulties of the enterprise had
been better understood, reduced to proportion, and
subdued to the established laws of our dramatic
system, the gigantic and monstrous works of the
English dramatist. He knew how to separate the
pure and sublime traits from the impure alloy which
dishonoured them, and to render them with that
force, that warmth, that truth of expression, which
associatesnay, which almost places on an equality
the rights of imitative talent with those of original
genius. Indeed, how much of bold and profound
thought, of touching and elevated sentiment, has he
added to that furnished to him by his model!"

Fortunately, no dead poet is responsible for
the enthusiasm of his live editor, and in spite
of the above trumpet-blast of panegyric, we
firmly believe that Ducis was a modest and
amiable poet. That he possessed some of the
best qualities of a man, is shown by the fact that
after having been attached to the service of
Monsieur, afterwards Louis the Eighteenth, as
Secrétaire des Commandements (whatever that
may have been), he refused, although then
reduced to poverty, the position and emolument of
senator, offered to him by Napoleon. When
pressed by a friend to accept the lucrative
sinecure, he replied: "I have always consulted my
interests but little, and my distastes a great deal.
Besides, when I come to look upon the gold lace
with which the Solliciteur-Général is adorned,
I am quite sure I could never bring myself to
wear that coat."

There must be a subtle refinement necessary
for the thorough enjoyment of the Unities, to
which we Englishmen cannot lay much claim.
We must either be very dull, or diseasedly
imaginative, when our play-going nature does
not insist upon the reproduction of an event on
the stage m precisely the same number of
minutes which its action would occupy in reality;
and when we are indifferent to the apparent
annihilation of both time and space, in order to
work out a good story. It is doubtful, indeed,
whether the best of us would not prefer the
Life of a Gamester, with a lapse of five years
between each act, to the classical severity of
Cato. Only this much may be said in our favour:
that Corneille, in The Cid, one of his best plays,
broke through the Unities more than once
perhaps it was on that account the Académie
rejected the pieceand that the classical model