Page:Studies of a Biographer 4.djvu/50

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36
STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

country had the same temptations as Robert Greene and Christopher Marlowe. He did not escape them by any coldness of temperament or inability to appreciate the pleasures of the town. He may, as two or three stories suggest, have given way to weaknesses, which would account for some of the expressions of remorse in the sonnets. Anyhow, he had retained enough prudence and self-command to avoid the fate of a Pistol or a Falstaff. He became a highly respectable man as well as a world-poet. If he caught some stains from bad company, they were, as I may leave the critics to demonstrate, superficial. The appreciation of pure and lofty qualities develops instead of declines as years go on. It surely cannot be said that an eye for the main chance is inconsistent with the poetical character. The conventional poet, of course, lives in dreamland, and is an incapable man of business. But then it is the speciality of Shakespeare, that if he could dream, he must have been most keenly awake to a living world of men. Interest in and insight into our fellow-creatures is surely a good qualification for business. Voltaire was a superlative man of business. Goethe knew the value of a good social position. Pope was a keen and successful money-