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SOLITUDE PREFERRED TO A COURT LIFE.
And the dull drops that from his purpled bill,
As from a limbeck, did adown distill :
In his right hand a tipped staffe he held,
With which his feeble steps he stayed still ;
For he was faint with cold and weak with eld ;2
That scarse his loosed limbes he able was to weld.3
Born A.D. 1564, died A.D. 1616.
Extracts from his Plays.
Solitude preferred to a Court Life, and the Advantages of
Now, my co-mates, and brothers in exile,
Hath not old custom made this life more sweet
Than that of painted pomp? are not these woods
More free from peril than the envious court?
Here feel we but the penalty of Adam,
The seasons' difference; as, the icy fang,
And churlish chiding of the winter's wind;
Which when it bites and blows upon my body,
Even till I shrink with cold, I smile, and say,
This is no flattery: these are counsellors
That feelingly persuade me what I am.
Sweet are the uses of adversity ;
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head ;
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.
The Deceit of Appearances. The world is still deceived with ornament. In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt, But, being season'd with a graciousl voice, Obscures the show of evil? In religion, What damned error, but some sober brow Will bless it, and approve it with a text, Hiding the grossness with fair ornament? There is no vice so simple, but assumes Some mark of virtue on his outward parts. How many cowards, whose hearts are all as false As stairs of sand, wear yet upon their chins The beards of Hercules and frowning Mars, Who, inward search’d, have livers white as milk? And these assume but valour's excrement To render them redoubted. Look on beauty, And you shall see 'tis purchased by the weight; Which therein works a miracle in nature, Making them lightest that wear most of it: So are those crispeda snaky golden locks, Which make such wanton gambols with the wind, Upon supposed fairness, often known To be the dowry of a second head, The skull that bred them, in the sepulchre. Thus ornament is but the guiled shore, To a most dangerous sea; the beauteous scarf Veiling an Indian beauty ; in a word, The seeming truth which cunning times put on To entrap the wisest.
Mercy. The quality of mercy is not strain'd; 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; 1 winning 2 curled.
His sceptre shews the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this scepter'd sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself ;
And earthly power doth then shew likest God's,
When mercy seasons justice.
Is all the counsel that we two have shared,
The sisters' vows, the hours that we have spent,
When we have chid the hasty-footed time
For parting us,-oh, and is all forgot?
All school-days’ friendship, childhood innocence ?
We, Hermia, like two artificial gods,
Have with our neelds- created both one flower,
Both on one sampler, sitting on one cushion,
Both warbling of one song, both in one key ;
As if our hands, our sides, voices, and minds,
Had been incorporate. So we grew together,
Like to a double cherry, seeming parted,
But yet a union in partition, --
Two lovely berries moulded on one stem :
So, with two seeming bodies, but one heart;
Two of the first, like coats in heraldry,
Due but to one, and crowned with one crest.
And will you rend our ancient love asunder,
To join with men in scorning your poor friend?
It is not friendly, 'tis not maidenly:
Our sex, as well as I, may chide you for it,
Though I alone do feel the injury.
The Power of fairies.
Ye elves of bills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves ;
that on the sands with printless foot
Do chase the ebbing Neptune, and do fly him
When he comes back ; you demy-puppets that
By moonshine do the green-sour ringlets make,
Whereof the ewe not bites; and you whose pastime
Is to make midnight-mushrooms; that rejoice
To hear the solemn curfew; by whose aid
(Weak masters though you be) I have bedimm'd
'he noon-tide sun, call'd forth the mutinous winds,
And 'twixt the green sea and the azured vault
Set roaring war: to the dread rattling thunder
Have I given fire, and rifted Jove's stout oak
With his own bolt; the strong-based promontory
Have I made shake; and by the spurs pluck'd up
The pine and cedar : graves
command Have waked their sleepers, oped, and let them forth By my so potent art.
The Horrors a Conspiracy. I had a thing to say, but let it go : The sun is in the heaven, and the proud day, Attended with the pleasures of the world, Is all too wanton, and too full of gawds, To give me audience. If the midnight bell Did, with his iron tongue and brazen mouth, Sound one unto the drowsy race of night; If this same were a churchyard where we stand, And thou possessed with a thousand wrongs ; Or if that surly spirit, melancholy, Had baked thy blood, and made it heavy, thick (Which, else, runs tickling up and down the veins, Making that idiot, laughter, keep men's eyes, And strain their cheeks to idle merriment, A passion hateful to my purposes); Or if that thou couldst see me without eyes, Hear me without thine ears, and make reply Without a tongue, using conceita alone, Without eyes, ears, and harmful sound of words ; 1 showy ornaments.
Then, in despite of brooded watchful day,
I would into thy bosom pour my thoughts ;
But, ah, I will not.
Vanity of Kingly power.
No matter where; of comfort no man speak :
Let's talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs ;
Make dust our paper, and with rainy eyes
Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth.
Let's choose executors, and talk of wills :
And yet not so, for what can we bequeath,
Save our deposed bodies to the ground ?
Our lands, our lives, and all are Bolingbroke's,
And nothing can we call our own but death ;
And that small model of the barren earth
Which serves as paste and cover to our bones.
For heaven's sake, let us sit upon the ground,
And tell sad stories of the death of kings :
How some have been deposed, some slain in war ;
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;
Some poison’d by their wives, some sleeping killid;
All murder’d:-For within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king,
Keeps death his court; and there the antic sits,
Scoffing his state, and grinning at his pomp, - -
Allowing him a breath, a little scene,
To monarchise, be fear'd, and kill with looks;
Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
As if this flesh, which walls about our life,
Were brass impregnable; and, humour'd thus,
Comes at the last, and with a little pin
Bores through his castle wall, and—farewell king!
Cover your heads, and mock not flesh and blood
With solemn reverence ; throw away respect,
Tradition, form, and ceremonious duty,
have but mistook me all this while:
I live with bread like you, feel want, taste grief,
Need friends :-subjected thus,
How can you say to me-I am a king ?