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That I have ta'en away this old man's daughter,
It is most true; true, I have married her;
The very head and front of my offending
Hath this extent, no more. Rude am I in my speech,
And little blest with the soft phrase of peace;
For since these arms of mine had seven years' pith,
Till now, some nine moons wasted, they have used
Their dearest action in the tented field;
And little of this great world can I speak,
More than pertains to feats of broil and battle;
And therefore shall I little grace my cause
In speaking for myself. Yet by your gracious patience
I will a round unvarnished tale deliver
Of my whole course of love; what drugs, what charms,
What conjuration, and what mighty magic
(For such proceeding I am charged withal)
I won his daughter with.
Her father loved me, oft invited me;
Still questioned me the story of my life,
From year to year; the battles, sieges, fortunes,
That I have past.
I ran it through, even from my boyish days,
To the very moment that he bade me tell it :
Wherein I spoke of most disastrous chances,
Of moving accidents by flood and field;
Of hair-breadth 'scapes i' th' imminent deadly breach;
Of being taken by the insolent foe,
And sold to slavery; of my redemption thence,
And portance in my travel's history.
Wherein of antres vast and deserts idle,
Rough quarries, rocks, and hills whose heads touch heaven,
It was my lot to speak, such was the process;
And of the cannibals that each other eat,
The anthropophagi, and men whose heads
Do grow beneath their shoulders. These things to hear
Would Desdemona seriously incline;
But still the house affairs would draw her thence;
Which ever as she could with haste despatch,
She'd come again, and with a greedy ear
Devour up my discourse : which I observing,
Took once a pliant hour, and found good means
To draw from her a prayer of earnest heart,
That I would all my pilgrimage dilate,
Whereof by parcels she had something heard,
But not intentively. I did consent,
And often did beguile her of her tears,
When I did speak of some distressful stroke
That my youth suffered. My story being done, ,
She gave me for my pains a world of sighs;
She swore-in faith, 't was strange, 't was passing strange,
'Twas pitiful, 't was wondrous pitiful-
She wished she had not heard it, yet she wished
That heaven had made her such a man:-she thanked me,
And bade me, if I had a friend that loved her,
I should but teach him how to tell my story:
And that would woo her. On this hint I spake;
She loved me for the dangers I had passed,
And I loved her that she did pity them.
END OF ALL EARTHLY GLORIES.
(From the Tempest.) Our revels now are ended: these our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capt 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! We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
SOLITUDE PREFERRED TO A Court LIFE, AND THE ADVAN
TAGES OF ADVERSITY.
(From As You Like It.)
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 season's 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 everything.
I would not change it!
THE WORLD COMPARED TO A STAGE.
All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant, Mewling and puking in his nurse's arms : And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel And shining morning face, creeping like snail Unwillingly to school. And then the lover, Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad Made to his mistress' eye-brow. Then, the soldier, Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard, Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel ; Seeking the bubble reputation Even in the cannon's mouth. And then, the justice, In fair round belly, with good capon lined, With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut, Full of wise saws and modern instances; And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts Into the lean and slippered pantaloon, With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side ; His youthful hose well served, a world too wide For his shrunk shanks; and his big manly voice, Turning again towards childish treble, pipes And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all, That ends this strange eventful history, Is second childishness, and mere nblivion : Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
CONTEMPORARY with Shakspeare, and immediately succeeding him, was a host of poetical writers, chiefly dramatic, whom it is not necessary to dwell upon individually. The stage, which had begun to be of considerable importance even before the time of Shakspeare, received from his labours such an impetus that it became for a while the great pulse of literary life. The Dramatists, from the time of Shakspeare to the establishment of the Commonwealth,—that is, through the reigns of Elizabeth, James I., and Charles I.,— were no unimportant part of the body politic. They were a peculiar race, having in many respects a common character and destiny, and widely distinguished from the other great names of the period. They were exceedingly prolific, but from the enormous mass of their productions, the portion that is worthy of preservation, except as matter of curious history, is comparatively small. Foremost in this class, and next to Shakspeare himself among English dramatists, is Ben Jonson. Some of his plays are of a truly classical character, and all of them are much purer and more elevated in sentiment than most of those with which they are historically associated. Next to Jonson in order of time, as well as of genius though in both by a very small interval, come Beaumont and Fletcher. These were two young men of high talents and liberal birth, who formed the most