Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][graphic]

Come to redeem me? there's a fearful point ! Shall I not, then, be stifled in the vault,

To whose foul mouth no healthsome air breathes in,
And there die strangled ere my Romeo comes ?
Or, if I live, is it not very like,
The horrible conceit of death and night,
Together with the terror of the place, -
As in a vault, an ancient receptacle,
Where, for these many hundred years, the bones
Of all my buried ancestors are pack'd;
Where bloody Tybalt, yet but green in earth,
Lies festering in his shroud; where, as they say,
At some hours in the night spirits resort :-
Alack, alack! is it not like, that I,
So early waking,—what with loathsome smells ;
And shrieks like mandrakes torn out of the earth,
That living mortals, hearing them, run mad ;-
O! if I wake, shall I not be distraught,
Environed with all these hideous fears,
And madly play with my forefathers' joints,
And pluck the mangled Tybalt from his shroud ?
And, in this rage, with some great kinsman's bone,
As with a club, dash out my desperate brains ?
O, look! methinks I see my cousin's ghost
Seeking out Romeo, that did spit his body
Upon a rapier's point—Stay, Tybalt, stay !
Romeo, I come! this do I drink to thee.

[She throws herself on the bed.

In Othello we have many gems of thought : here is one :

Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls:
Who steals my purse steals trash ; 'tis something, nothing ;
'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands :
But he that filches from me my good name,

Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed.

We all remember these admirable lines :

The quality of mercy is not strained ;
It droppeth, as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath : it is twice bless’d;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes;
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest ; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown.

What a sublime passage is that on the end of all earthly glories :

The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve ;
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind !

What can be finer in structure of words than the speech of Mark Antony over the body of Cæsar ? Or, take another varietyOthello's relation of his courtship, to the Senate ; or, still another familiar, yet exquisite passage, from Romeo and Juliet, on Dreams, commencing :

O then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you.

For wonderful condensation and vigor, it has been thought that the passage in As You Like It, on the world being compared to a stage, is one of the greatest gems of Shakspeare: but we have the authority of Bunsen for assigning the highest merit to the description of a moonlight night with music, in The Merchant of l'enice :

How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank !
Here will we sit, and let the sounds of music
Creep into our ears : soft stillness, and the night,
Become the touches of sweet harmony.
Sit, Jessica : look how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold;
There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st,
But in his motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubins :
Such harmony is in immortal souls ;
But, whilst this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.

Now for a cluster of little brilliants, rich and rare :

From Two Gentlemen of Verona :

Who is Silvia? what is she,

That all our swains commend her ?
Holy, fair, and wise is she :

The heavens such grace did lend her,
That she might admired be.

Is she kind, as she is fair ?

For beauty lives with kindness :
Love doth to her eyes repair,

To help him of his blindness;
And being help’d, inhabits there.

Then to Silvia let us sing,

That Silvia is excelling :
She excels each mortal thing

Upon the dull earth dwelling :
To her let us garlands bring.

From Measure for Measure :

Take, oh take those lips away,

That so sweetly are forsworn;
And those eyes, the break of day,

Lights that do mislead the morn:
But my kisses bring again,

Bring again,
Seals of love, but seal'd in vain,

Seal'd in vain !

From The Merchant of Venice :

Tell me, where is Fancy' bred,
Or in the heart, or in the head?
How begot, how nourished ?

Reply, reply.
It is engender'd in the eyes,
With gazing fed ; and Fancy dies
In the cradle where it lies :

Let us all ring Fancy's knell:
I'll begin it,-Ding, dong, bell.

Ding, dong, bell.

From As You Like It:

Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind

As man's ingratitude :
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,

Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh, ho! sing heigh, ho! unto the green holly ;
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly.

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »