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When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause : There's the respect 2
That makes calamity of so long life:
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient mérit of th' unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns,-puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment,
With this regard, their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.
Hamlet, Act III. Scene I.
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:
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings.
But mercy is above the scepter'd sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings;
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though jnstice be thy plea, consider this
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.
Merchant of Venice, Act IV. Scene I.
ACTIVITY NECESSARY TO KEEP FAME BRIGHT.3
Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back,
Wherein he puts alms for oblivion,
A great-sized monster of ingratitudes:
Those scraps are good deeds past: which are devour'd
As fast as they are made, forgot as soon
As done: Perseverance, dear my lord,
Keeps honor bright: To have done, is to hang
Quite out of fashion, like a rusty mail
In monumental mockery. Take the instant way; -
For honor travels in a strait so narrow,
Where one but goes abreast: keep then the path;
For emulation hath a thousand sons,
That one by one pursue: If you give way,
Or hedge aside from the direct forthright,
Like to an enter'd tide, they all rush by,
And leave you hindmost;
Or, like a gallant horse fallen in first rank,
Lie there for pavement to the abject rear,
O'er-run and trampled on: Then what they do in present,
Though less than yours in past, must o'ertop yours:
For time is like a fashionable host,
That slightly shakes his parting guest by the hand;
And with his arms out-stretch'd, as he would fly,
Grasps in the comer: Welcome ever smiles,
And farewell goes out sighing. O, let not virtue seek
Remuneration for the thing it was;
For beauty, wit,
High birth, vigor of bone, desert in service,
Love, friendship, charity, are subjects all
To envious and calumniating time.
One touch of nature makes the whole world kin,
That all, with one consent, praise new-born gauds,
Though they are made and moulded of things past;
And give to dust, that is a little gilt,?
More laud than gilt o'er-dusted.
The present eye praises the present object:
Then marvel not, thou great and complete man,
That all the Greeks begin to worship Ajax;
Since things in motion sooner catch the eye
Than what not stirs. The cry went once on thee,
And still it might; and yet it may again,
If thou wouldst not entomb thyself alive,
And case thy reputation in thy tent;
Whose glorious deeds, but in these fields of late,
Made emulous missions2 'mongst the gods themselves,
And drave great Mars to faction.
Troilus and Cressida, Act III. Scene 11.
THE COMMONWEALTH OF BEES.
So work the honey bees; Creatures, that, by a rule in nature, teach The acts of order to a peopled kingdom. They have a king, and officers of sorts: 4
Where some, like magistrates, correct at home;
Others, like merchants, venture trade abroad;
Others, like soldiers, armed in their stings,
Make boot upon the summer's velvet buds;
Which pillage they with merry march bring home
To the tent-royal of their emperor:
Who, busied in his majesty, surveys
The singing masons building roofs of gold;
The civil citizens kneading up the honey;
The poor mechanic porters crowding in
Their heavy burdens at his narrow gate;
The sad-eyed justice, with his surly hum,
Delivering o'er to executors2 pale
The lazy yawning drone.
Henry V., Act I, Scene II.
BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER. TAESE names, united in their lives by friendship and confederate genius, have always been considered together; for they wrote together, their works were published together, nor is it possible now to assign to each his specific share of their joint labors. Some of the productions of each, however, are distinctively known.
Francis Beaumont was born in Leicestershire, in 1586. He studied at Oxford, and thence passed to the Inner Temple; but the law had few charms for him, and, in conjunction with his friend Fletcher, he devoted his short life to the drama, and died in 1616, in the thirtieth year of his age.
John Fletcher was the son of Dr. Richard Fletcher, bishop of London, and was born in that city in 1576. He was educated at Cambridge: little, how ever, is known of his life. He survived his coadjutor nine years, dying of the plague in 1625.
The plays of Beaumont and Fletcher consist of tragedies, comedies, and mixed pieces. That they have many and great merits is undoubtedly true; but there are two things which will ever be a bar to their being generally read: one is, that they have not that truthfulness to nature which alone can permanently please; and the other is, that they are filled with so much that is repulsive to a delicate and virtuous mind. Still, as has been justly remarked, a proper selection from the works of these dramatists would make a volume of refined sentiment, and of lofty and sweet poetry, combined with good sense, humor, and pathos. In lyrics they have not been surpassed, not even by Shakspeare or Milton; and to these, therefore, we shall confine our extracts.3
ADDRESS TO MELANCHOLY.
Hence, all you vain delights;
As short as are the nights
Wherein you spend your folly;
There's nought in this life sweet,
If man were wise to see't,
1 Sober, grave.
* Read-Hazlitt's "Age of Elizabeth,” and Lamb's "Specimens of Dramatic Poeto."
But only melancholy;
Oh, sweetest melancholy,
Welcome folded arms and fixed eyes,
A sight that piercing mortifies;
A look that's fasten'd to the ground,
A tongue chain'd up without a sound;
Fountain heads, and pathless groves,
Places which pale passion loves :
Moonlight walks, where all the fowls
Are warmly housed, save bats and owls;
A midnight bell, a passing groan,
These are the sounds we feed upon:
Then stretch our bones in a still, gloomy valley;
Nothing so dainty sweet as lovely melancholy.
THE LIFE OF MAN.
Like to the falling of a star,
Or as the flights of eagles are,
Or like the fresh spring's gaudy hue,
Or silver drops of morning dew,
Or like a wind that chafes the flood,
Or bubbles which on water stood :
E'en such is man, whose borrow'd light
Is straight call'd in and paid to-night:
The wind blows out, the bubble dies :
The spring entomb'd in autumn lies;
The dew's dried up, the star is shot,
The flight is past, and man forgot.
See, the day begins to break,
And the light shoots like a streak
Of subtile fire; the wind blows cold,
While the morning doth unfold;
Now the birds begin to rouse,
And the squirrel from the boughs
Leaps, to get him nuts and fruit;
The early lark, that erst was mute
Carols to the rising day
Many a note and many a lay.
EXHORTATION TO EARLY RISING.
Shepherds, rise, and shake off sleep!
See, the blushing morn doth peep
Through the windows, while the sun
To the mountain tops is run,
Gilding all the vales below
With his rising flames, which grow
Greater by his climbing still.
Up, ye lazy grooms, and fill
Bag and bottle for the field!
Clasp your cloaks fast, lest they yield
To the bitter north-east wind.
Call the maidens up, and find
Who lies longest, that she may
Go without a friend all day;
Then reward your dogs, and pray
Pan to keep you from decay:
So unfold, and then away!
THE SHEPHERD'S EVENING. Shepherds all, and maidens fair, Fold your flocks up, for the air 'Gins to thicken, and the sun Already his great course hath run. See the dew-drops how they kiss Every little flower that is; Hanging on their velvet heads, Like a rope of crystal beads. See the heavy clouds low falling, And bright Hesperus down calling The dead night from under ground, At whose rising mists unsound, Damps, and vapors fly apace, Hovering o'er the wanton face Of these pastures, where they come Striking dead both bud and bloom; Therefore, from such danger, lock Every one his loved flock; And let your dogs lie loose without, Lest the wolf come as a scout From the mountain, and, ere day, Bear a lamb or kid away; Or the crafty thievish fox Break upon your simple flocks. To secure yourselves from these Be not too secure in ease; Let one eye his watches keep, While the other eye doth sleep; So you shall good shepherds prove, And for ever hold the love Of our great God. Sweetest slumbers, And soft silence, fall in numbers On your eyelids! So, farewell! Thus I end my evening's knell.