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[2] personal demeanor so kindly, his life so open and transparent, that everything really conspired to give him the highest accessible degree of contemporary fame. There was no literary laurel that was not his, and he resolutely declined all other laurels; he had wealth and ease, children and grandchildren, health and a stainless conscience; he had also, in a peculiar degree, the blessings that belong to Shakespeare's estimate of old age, —‘honor, love, obedience, troops of friends.’ Except for two great domestic bereavements, his life would have been one of absolutely unbroken sunshine; in his whole career he never encountered any serious rebuff, while such were his personal modesty and kindliness that no one could long regard him with envy or antagonism. Among all the sons of song there has rarely been such an instance of unbroken and unstained success.

Yet the fact that his death took place twenty years ago may justly raise the question how far this wave of success has followed his memory, or how far the passage of time has impaired his traditional influence; and here we must compare a variety of tests and standards to ascertain the result. Some analysis of this kind may well precede any new attempt to delineate his career.

The editor of one of the great London weeklies said to an American traveller not many years

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William Shakespeare (1)
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