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Does not the story say, his keel was split,
Or his masts spent, or some kind rock or other
Ant. Not as I remember.
Asp. It should ha' been so; could the gods know this, And not of all their number raise a storm?
But they are all as ill. This false smile was well e
Just such another caught me; you shall not go so, An
In this place work a quick sand,
And over it a shallow smiling water,
And his ship ploughing it, and then a fear.
Do that fear to the life wench.
Ant. "Twill wrong the story.
Asp. "Twill make the story, wrong'd by wanton poets, Live long and be believ'd; but where's the lady?
Ant. There, madam.
Asp. Fie, you have miss'd it here, Antiphila, You are much mistaken, wench;
These colours are not dull and pale enough,
To shew a soul so full of misery
As this sad lady's was; do it by me,
Do it again by me the lost Aspatia,
And you shall find all true but the wild island.
I stand upon the sea beach now, and think
Mine arms thus, and mine hair blown with the wind,
Tell that I am forsaken, do my face
(If thou hadst ever feeling of a sorrow)
Thus, thus, Antiphila, strive to make me look
Like Sorrow's monument; and the trees about me,
Asp. I have done, sit down, and let us
Upon that point fix all our eyes, that point there;
Make a dull silence, till you feel a sudden sadness
Evadne implores forgiveness of Amintor for marrying him while she was the King's Mistress. .
Evad. O my lord.
Amin. How now!
Evad. My much abused lord!
Amin. This cannot be.
Evad. I do not kneel to live, I dare not hope it;
94 One characteristic of the excellent old poets is their being able to bestow grace upon subjects which naturally do not seem susceptible of any. I will mention two instances: Zelmane in the Arcadia of Sidney, and Helena in the All's Well that Ends Well of Shakspeare. What can be more unpromising at first sight than the idea of a young man disguising himself in woman's attire, and passing himself off for a woman among women? and that too for a long space of time? yet Sir Philip has preserved such a matchless decorum, that neither does Pyrocles' manhood suffer any stain for the effeminacy of Zelmane, nor is the respect due to the princesses at all diminished when the deception comes to be known. In the sweetly constituted mind of Sir Philip Sidney it seems as if no ugly thought nor unhandsome meditation could find a harbour. He turned all that he touched into images of honour and virtue. Helena in Shakspeare, is a young woman seeking a man in marriage. The ordinary laws of courtship are reversed; the habitual feelings are violated. Yet with such exquisite address this dangerous subject is handled, that Helena's forwardness loses her no honour; delicacy dispenses with her laws in her favour, and Nature in her single case seems content to suffer a sweet violation.
Aspatia in this Tragedy, is a character equally difficult with Helena of being managed with grace. She too is a slighted woman, refused by the man who had once engaged to marry her. Yet it is artfully contrived that while we pity her, we respect her, and she descends without degradation. So much true poetry and passion can do to confer dignity upon subjects which do not seem capable of it. But Aspatia must not be compared at all points with Helena; she does not so absolutely predominate over her situation but she suffers some diminution, some abatement of the full lustre of the female character; which Helena never does: her character has many degrees of sweetness, some of delicacy, but it has weakness which if we do not despise, we are sorry for. After all, Beaumont and Fletcher were but an inferior sort of Shakspeares and Sidneys.
I did are greater; look upon me,
Though I appear with all my faults.
Amin. Stand up.
This is no new way to beget more sorrow?
Heaven knows I have too many; do not mock me;
Amin. Sure I dazzle:
There cannot be a faith in that foul woman,
Evad. My lord,
Give me your griefs: you are an innocent,
A soul as white as heaven: let not my sins
What my hot will hath done, which heaven and you
I do appear the same, the same Evadne,
Most poisonous, dangerous, and despis'd of men,
Till you, my dear lord, shoot your light into me,
Amin. Rise, Evadne.
Those heavenly powers that put this good into thee;
Make thyself worthy of it, and take heed,
Mock not the powers above, that can and dare
With thy_repentance, the best sacrifice.
Evad. I have done nothing good to win belief,
My life hath been so faithless; all the creatures
Made for heaven's honours have their ends, and good
All but the cousening Crocodiles, false women;
They reign here like those plagues, those killing sores,
Or like another Niobe I'll weep
Till I am water.
Amin. I am now dissolved:
My frozen soul melts: may each sin thou hast,
Had'st thou been thus, thus excellently good,
Sure thou had'st made a star: give me thy hand;
Though my embraces must be far from thee.
Men's Natures more hard and subtil than Women's.
More than in women: all the men I meet
Which love could never know; but we fond women
And think all shall go so; it is unjust
That men and women should be matcht together.