"Taking up, therefore, some of their poems, which appeared to me most elaborately finished, I questioned them as to their meaning, that at the same time I might learn something from them. I am ashamed, O Athenians, to tell you the truth; however, it must be told. For, in a word, almost all who were present could have given a better account of them than those by whom they had been composed. I soon discovered this, therefore, with regard to the poets, that they do not effect their object by wisdom, but by a certain natural inspiration, and under the influence of enthusiasm, like prophets and seers; for these also say many fine things, but they understand nothing that they say".

Words could not express more clearly the recognition of the subjective element in poetic composition; and it exactly accords with Macaulay's idea regarding the poets and the poetry of the ancient days.

The subjective mind once recognized as a factor in the mental powers of the poet, it follows that its resources are all at his command. Its perfect memory, its instant command of all the acquired knowledge of the individual, however superficially attained or imperfectly remembered, objectively, is a source of stupendous power. But, like all other gifts of nature, it is liable at times to be a source of inconvenience; for it sometimes happens that in ordinary composition a person will unconsciously reproduce, verbatim, some long-forgotten expressions, perhaps a whole stanza, or even an entire poem. It may, perchance, be of his own composition; but it is just as likely to be something that he has read years before and forgotten, objectively, as soon as read. In this way many persons have subjected themselves to the charge of plagiarism, when they were totally unconscious of guilt. Many of the great poets have been accused of minor plagiarisms, and much inconsiderate criticism has been the result. Oliver Wendell Holmes mentions unconscious reproduction as one of the besetting annoyances of a poet's experience. "It is impossible to tell," he says, "in many cases, whether a comparison which suddenly suggests itself is a new conception or a recollection.

I told you the other day that I never wrote a line of verse that seemed to me comparatively good, but it appeared old at once, and often as if it had been borrowed." 1

A certain class of trance-speaking mediums, so called, are often called upon to improvise poems, the subject being suggested by some one in the audience. Often a very creditable performance is the result; but it more frequently happens that they reproduce something that they have read.

Sometimes whole poems are thus reproduced by persons in an apparently normal condition. This accounts for the frequent disputes concerning the authorship of popular verses. Instances of this kind are fresh in the minds of most readers, as, for example, a recent controversy between two well-known writers relative to the authorship of the poem beginning, "Laugh, and the world laughs with you." The circumstances of such coincidences often preclude the possibility of either claimant deliberately plagiarizing the work, or telling a falsehood concerning its authorship. Yet nothing is more certain than that one of them is not its author. Possibly neither is entitled to that credit. When, in the nature of things, it is impossible for either to prove the fact of authorship, and when the evidence on both sides is about equally balanced, we may never know the exact truth; but as the theory of unconscious subjective reproduction is consistent with the literary honesty of both, it may well be accepted as the true one, aside from the inherent probability of its correctness.

1 Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table.

The solution of the great question as to the authorship of Shakspeare's works may be found in this hypothesis. The advocates of the Baconian theory tell us that Shakspeare was an unlearned man. This is true so far as high scholastic attainments are concerned; but it is also known that he was a man of extensive reading, and was the companion of many of the great men of his time, among whom were Bacon, Ben Jonson, Drayton, Beaumont, Fletcher, and others. It is in evidence that the Mermaid Tavern was the scene of many an encounter of wit and learning between these worthies. In this way he was brought into constant contact with the brightest minds of the Elizabethan age. He was not only familiar with their works, but he had also the benefit of their conversation, - which familiarized him with their thoughts and modes of expression, - and of close personal relations with them in their convivial moods, when wit and eloquence, learning and philosophy, flowed as freely as their wine.

The internal evidence of his works shows that Shakspeare's mind, compared with that of any other poet whose writings are known, was the most harmoniously developed. In other words, his objective and subjective faculties were exquisitely balanced. When this fact is considered in the light of what has been said of the marvellous powers of subjective memory, and in connection with his intellectual environment, the source of his power and inspiration becomes apparent. In his moments of inspiration - and he seems always to have been inspired when writing - he had the benefit of a perfect memory and a logical comprehension of all that had been imparted by the brightest minds of the most marvellous literary and philosophical age in the history of mankind. Is it any wonder that he was able to strike a responsive chord in every human breast, to run the gamut of every human emotion, to portray every shade of human character, and to embellish his work with all the wit and learning of his day and generation?

Artists constitute/another class in whom the subjective faculties are largely cultivated, and are often predominant.

Indeed, no man can become a true artist whose subjective mind is not cultivated to a high degree of activity. One may become a good draughtsman, or learn to delineate a figure with accuracy, or to draw a landscape with photographic fidelity to objective nature, and in faultless perspective, by the cultivation of the objective faculties alone; but his work will lack that subtle something, that nameless charm, which causes a canvas to glow with beauty, and each particular figure to become instinct with life and action. No artist can successfully compose a picture who cannot see "in his mind's eye" the perfected picture before he touches his pencil to canvas; and just in proportion to his cultivation of the subjective faculties will he be able thus to see his picture. Of course these remarks will be understood to presuppose an objective art education. No man, by the mere cultivation or exercise of his subjective faculties, can become a great artist, any more than an ignoramus, by going into a hypnotic trance, can speak the language of a Webster. All statements to the contrary are merely the exaggerations of inaccurate observers.