Be not Deceived

COLERIDGE thus critically analyzes Shakespeare's characterizations of sin or vice:—

"Shakespeare has no innocent adulteries, no virtuous vice; he never renders that amiable which religion and reason alike teach us to detest, or clothes impurity in the garb of virtue. . . . If he occasionally disgusts a keen sense of delicacy, he never injures the mind; he neither excites nor flatters passion in order to degrade the subject of it; he does not use the faulty thing for a faulty purpose, nor carry on warfare against virtue, by causing wickedness to appear as no wickedness, through the medium of a morbid sympathy with the unfortunate. In Shakespeare vice never walks as in twilight; nothing is purposely out of its place; he inverts not the order of nature and propriety—does not make every magistrate a drunkard or a glutton, nor every poor man meek, humane, and temperate."

This analysis is keen and correct. There is no more misleading error than that false sentimentalism which seeks to gloss vice over with a veneering of virtue, or which would cover sin with cloak of saintliness.

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Czolgosz' Trial
October 3, 1901

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