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I am entreating of myself to do
That which you kneel to have me; Perithous,
Lead on the bride ; get you and pray the gods
For success and return; omit not any thing
In the pretended celebration; queens,
Follow your soldier (as before) ; hence you,
And at the banks of Anly meet us with
The forces you can raise, where we shall find
The moiety of a number, for a business
More bigger look't. Since that our theme is haste,
I stamp this kiss upon thy currant lip;
Sweet, keep it as my token. Set you forward,
For I will see you gone.
Hippolita and Emilia discoursing of the friendship between
Perithous and Theseus, Emilia relates a parallel instànce of the love between herself and Flavia, being girls.
Emil. I was acquainted
Once with a time, when I enjoy'd a play-fellow;
You were at wars, when she the
grave enrich’d, Who made too proud the bed, took leave o'th' moon (Which then look'd pale at parting) when our count Was each eleven.
Hip. 'Twas Flavia.
You talk of Perithous and Theseus' love;
Theirs has more ground, is more maturely season'd,
More buckled with strong judgment, and their needs
The one of th' other may be said to water
Their intertangled roots of love; but I
And she (I sigh and spoke of) were things innocent,
Loved for we did, and like the elements,
That know not what, nor why, yet do effect
Rare issues by their operance, our souls
Did so to one another; what she liked,
Was then of me approved; what not condemn’d,
No more arraignment; the flower that I would pluck,
And put between my breasts, (Oh then but beginning
Te swell about the bosom) she would long
Till she had such another, and commit it
To the like innocent cradle, where phenix-like
They died in perfume : on my head no toy
But was her pattern; her affections pretty,
Though happily hers careless were, I followed
For my most serious decking; had mine ear
Stolen some new air, or at adventure humm'd on
From musical coinage, why it was a note
Whereon her spirits would sojourn (rather dwell on)
And sing it in her slumbers; this rehearsal
(Which every innocent wots well) comes in
Like old Importment's bastard, has this end :
That the true love 'tween maid and maid may be
More than in sex dividual,
Palamon and Arcite repining at their hard condition, in be
ing made captives for life in Athens, derive consolation from the enjoyment of each other's company in prison. Pal. How do you, noble cousin? Arc. How do you, sir?
Pal. Why strong enough to laugh at misery,
And bear the chance of war yet; we are prisoners
I fear for ever, cousin.
Arc. I believe it,
And to that destiny have patiently
Laid up my hour to come.
Pal. Oh cousin Arcite,
Where Thebes now? where is our noble country?
Where are our friends and kindreds ? never more
Must we behold those comforts, never see
The hardy youths strive for the games of honour,
Hung with the painted favours of their ladies
Like tall ships under sail; then start amongst them,
And as an east wind leave them all behind us
Like lazy clouds, whilst Palamon and Arcite,
Even in the wagging of a wanton leg,
Out-stript the people's praises, won the garlands
E’er they have time to wish them ours.
Shall we two exercise, like twins of honour,
Our arms again, and feel our fiery horses
Like proud seas under us, our good swords now
(Better the red-eyed god of war ne'er wore)
Ravish'd our sides, like age, must run to rust,
And deck the temples of those gods that hate us;
These hands shall never draw them out like lightning
To blast whole armies more.
Arc. No, Palamon,
Those hopes are prisoners with us; here we are,
And here the graces of our youths must wither
Like a too timely spring; here age must find us,
And (which is heaviest) Palamon, unmarried;
The sweet embraces of a loving wife
Loaden with kisses, arm’d with thousand cupids,
Shall never clasp our necks, no issue know us,
No figures of ourselves shall we e'er see,
To glad our age, and like young eagles teach them
Boldly to gaze against bright arms, and say
“ Remember what your fathers were, and conquer."
The fair-eyed maids shall weep our banishments,
And in their songs curse ever-blinded Fortune,
Till she for shame see what a wrong she has done
To youth and nature. This is all our world:
We shall know nothing here, but one another;
Hear nothing, but the clock that tells our woes.
The vine shall grow, but we shall never see it:
Summer shall come, and with her all delights,
But dead-cold winter must inhabit here still.
Pal. 'Tis too true, Arcite. To our Theban hounds,
That shook the aged forest with their echoes,
No more now must we halloo, no more shake
Our pointed javelins, whilst the angry swine
Flies like a Parthian quiver from our rages,
Struck with our well-steel'd darts. All valiant uses
(The food and nourishment of noble minds)
In us two here shall perish: we shall die
(Which is the curse of honour) lastly
Children of grief and ignorance.
Arc. Yet cousin,
Even from the bottom of these miseries,
From all that fortune can inflict upon us,
I see two comforts rising, two mere blessings,
If the gods please to hold here; a brave patience,
And the enjoying of our griefs together.
Whilst Palamon is with me, let me perish
If I think this our prison.
'Tis a main goodness, cousin, that our fortunes
Were twin'd together ; 'tis most true, two souls
Put in two noble bodies, let them suffer
The gall of hazard, so they grow together,
Will never sink; they must not ; say they could,
A willing man dies sleeping, and all's done.
Arc. Shall we make worthy uses of this place
That all men hate so much ?
Pal. How, gentle cousin ?
Arc. Let's think this prison holy sanctuary, To keep us from corruption of worse men; We are young, and yet desire the ways of honour, That liberty and common conversation, The poison of pure spirits, might (like women) Woo us to wander from. What worthy blessing Can be, but our imaginations May make it ours? And here being thus together, We are an endless mine to one another; We are one another's wife, ever begetting New births of love; we are father, friends, acquaintance; We are, in one another, families ; I am your heir, and you are mine. This place Is our inheritance; no hard oppressor Dare take this from us; here with a little patience We shall live long, and loving ; no surfeits seek us ; The hand of war hurts none here, nor the seas Swallow their youth. Were we at liberty, A wife might part us lawfully, or business ; Quarrels consume us; envy of ill men Crave our acquaintance; I might sicken, cousin, Where you should never know it, and so perish
noble hand to close mine eyes, Or prayers to the gods: a thousand chances, Were we from hence, would sever us.
Pal. You have made me
(I thank you, cousin Arcite) almost wanton
With my captivity : what a misery
It is to live abroad, and every where !
'Tis like a beast methinks! I find the court here,
I'm sure a more content; and all those pleasures,
That woo the wills of men to vanity,
I see through now; and am sufficient
To tell the world, 'tis but a gaudy shadow,
That old Time, as he passes by, takes with him.
What, had we been old in the court of Creon,
Where sin is justice, lust and ignorance
The virtues of the great ones ? Cousin Arcite,
Had not the loving gods found this place for us,
We had died, as they do, ill old men, unwept,
And had their epitaphs, the peoples curses. Tog
103 This scene bears indubitable marks of Fletcher : the two which precede it give strong countenance to the tradition that Shakspeare had a hand in this play. The same judgment may be formed of the death of Arcite, and some other passages, not here given. They have a luxuriance in them which strongly resembles
Shakspeare's manner in those parts of his plays where, the prot; gress of the interest being subordinate, the poet was at leisure for
description. I might fetch instances from Troilus and Timon. That Fletcher should have copied Shakspeare's manner through so many
entire scenes (which is the theory of Mr. Steevens) is not very pro$ bable, that he could have done it with such facility is to me not cerá
tain. His ideas moved slow ; his versification, though sweet, is tedious, it stops every moment; he lays line upon line, making up one after the other, adding image to image so deliberately that we see where they join: Shakspeare mingles every thing, he runs line into line, embarrasses sentences and metaphors; before one idea has burst its shell, another is hatched and clamorous for disclosure. If Fletcher wrote some scenes in imitation, why did he stop? or shall we say that Shakspeare wrote the other scenes in imitation of Fletcher? that he gave Shakspeare a curb and a bridle, and that Shakspeare gave him a pair of spurs : as Blackmore and Lucan are brought in exchanging gifts in the Battle of the Books?