« PreviousContinue »
The which, in every language I pronounce ;
Stuffing the ears of men with false reports,
I speak of peace while covert enmity,
Under the smile of safety, wounds the world ;
And who but rumour, who but only I,
Make fearful musters, and prepar'd defence,
* Whilst the big year, swol'n with some other griefs,
Is thought with child by the stern tyrant war,
And no such matter? Rumour is a pipe
Blown by surmises, jealoufies, conjectures ;
And, of so easy and fo plain a stop,
That the blunt monster, with uncounted heads,
The ftill discordant wavering multitude,
Can play upon it.
ACT 1. SCENE I.
Contention, like a horse
Full of high feeding, madly hath broke loose,
And bears down all before him..
ACT I. SCENE II.
After him came fpurring hard
A gentleman, almoft fore-spent with speed,
Tnat stopp'd by me to breathe his bloodied horse :
He ask'd the way to Chester ; and of him
I did demand the news from Shrewbury.
He told me that rebellion had ill luck;
And that young Harry Piercy's spur was cold.
New-rais'd sedition, secret whispers blown
By nameless authors and of things unknown,
Fame all that's done in heav'n, earth, ocean views,
And o'er the world still hunts around for news.
See Garth's Ovid. b. 12. * Year, &c.] Others scad car,
With that he gave his able horse the head,
And, bending forward, Aruck his agile heels
Against the panting fides of his poor jade
Up to the rowel-head; and, starting fo,
He seem'd in running to devour the way,
Scaying no longer queftion.
Scene III. Messenger with ill news.
Yea, this man's brow, like to a title-leaf,
Foretels the nature of a tragic volume:
So looks the strond, whereon th' imperious flood
Hath left a witness'd usurpation.
Thou tremblest, and the whiteness in thy cheek
Is apter than thy tongue to tell thy errand,
Even such a man, fo faint, so spiritless,
So dull, so dead in look, so woe-be-gone,
Drew Priam's curtain in the dead of night,
And would have told him half his Troy was burn'd.
I see a strange confession in thine eye ;
Thou shak'st thy head, and hold it it fear or fin
To speak.a truth: If he be sain, fay fo;
The tongue offends not that reports his death :
And he doth fin, that doth belie the dead,
Not he, which says, the dead is not alive.
(2) Yet the first bringer of unwelcome nejys.
Hath but a losing office ; and his tongue
Sounds ever after as a sullen bell,
Remember'd tolling a departing friend.
(2) Yet &c.] Mr. Theobald remarks “ this observation is cér. tainly true in nature, and has the sanction of no less authorities than those of Æschylus and Sopkocles, who say almost the same thing with our author here."
Alas! the bringer of unwelcome news
Hath but an evil and unwelcome office..
Theingrateful talk of bringing evil news
Greater griefs destroy the less. As the wretch, whose fever-weaken'd joints, Like strengthlefs hinges, buckle under life, Impatient of his fit, breaks like a fire Out of his keeper's arms; ev'n so my limbs, Weaken'd with grief, being now enrag'd with grief, Are thrice themselves. Hence therefore, thou nice
A scaly gauntlet now with joints of steel
Must glove this hand: And hence, thou fickly quoif,
Thou art a guard too wanton for the head,
Which princes, fleth'd with conqueft, aim to hit.
Now bind my brows with iron, and approach
The rugged'st hour that time and spight dare bring
To frown upon th' enrag'd Northumberland!
(3) Let heav'n kiss earth! now let not nature's hand
(3) Let] Longinus in his s5th section speaking of noble and terrible images, commends Æschylus for his success in them : ' Æschylus, says he, has made bold attempts in noble and truly heroic images : as, in one of his tragedies, the leven commanders against Tbebes, without betraying the least sign of pity or regret, bind themselves by oath not to survive Eteocles :
The seven, awarlike leader, each in chief,
Stood round, and o'er the black bronze shield they new
A sullen bull: then plunging deep their hands
Into the foaming gore, with oaths invok'd
Mars and Enyo, and blood-thirsty terror." Upon which the translator, judiciously quoting a'fine image of this fort from Milton, afterwards observes how vehemently does the fury of Northumberland exert itself in Shakespear, when he hears of the death of his son Hotspur. The rage and distraction of the furviving father shews how important the son was in his opinion. Nothing must be, now he is not : Nature itself must fall with Percy. His grief renders him frantic; his anger desperate.' And I think we may justly add, that no writer excells so much in these great and terrible images as Shakespear, the Æschylus of the British stage. See Timon of Athens, A. 4. S. 1.
Keep the wild food confin'd! Let order die,
And let this world no longer be a stage
To feed contention in a ling'ring act:
But let one spirit of the first-born Cain
Reign in all bosoms, that each heart being fer
On bloody courses, the rude scene may end,
(4) And darkness be the burier of the dead!
SCENE VI. The fickleness of the vulgar,
* An habitation giddy and unsure
Hath he, that buildeth on the vulgar heart.
O thou fond many! with what loud applause
Did'it thou beat heav'n with blessing Bolingbroke,
Before he was, what thou would't have him be?
And now, being trim'd up in thine own desires,
Thou, beastly feeder, art so full of him,
That thou provok'st thyself to cast him up.
ACT III. SCENE I.
On SL E E P.
(5) O gentle sleep, Nature's soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
That (4) And &c.] Εμε θανοντος για μιχθήτω πορ. With me, departing hence, all earth consum'd
Perish in general conflagration,
And Medea tells us, she fhall then only rest
When with herself all nature is involv'd
In universal ruin.-
Sen. Med. AX 36 See Coriolanus, A. 1. S. 3. (5) O gentle, &c.] Horace, in his 3d book and first ode, tells us, Sleep disdains not to dwell with the poor; take it in Mr. Cowley's paraphrafe :
Sleep is a god too proud to wait in palaces ;
And yet so humble too as not to scorn
The meanest country cottages :
His poppey grows amongft the corn.
That thou no more wilt weigh my eye-lids down,
And steep my senses in forgetfulness?
Why rather, sleep, ly't thou in smoaky cribs,
Upon uneasy pallets ftretching thee,
And hush'd with buzzing night-flies to thy Number;
Than in the perfum'd chambers of the great,
Under the canopies of coftly state,
And lullid with sounds of sweetest melody?
Othou dull god, why ly'st thou with the vile
In loathsome beds, and leav'it the kingly couch
A watch-case to a common larum-bell ?
Wilt thou, upon the high and giddy mast,
Seal up the ship-boys eyes, and rock his brains,
In cradle of the rude, imperious furge;
And in the visitation of che winds,
Who take the ruffian billows by the top,
Curling their monstrous heads, and hanging them
With deaf'ning clamours in the slipp'ry shrouds,
The halcyon Neep will never build his nest,
In any stormy breast;
'Tis not enough that he does find
Clouds and darkness in their mind,
Darkness but half his work will do ; 'Tis not enough, he must find quiet too. But whatever passages we may find like the former part of this speech, there is nothing I ever met with equal to the bold and sublime fight in the latter part of it: Lee, indeed, has taken a hint from it, the thought is so great and uncommon, it must be only Shakespear that could have soar'd so high.
So Neeps the fea-boy on the cloudy mast,
Safe as a drowfy Tryton, rock'd with storms,
While tosling princes wake on beds of down.
Mitbridates, Sir Thomas Hanmer thus explains the line A watch-case, &c. “ This alludes to the watchmen set in garison-towns, upon fome eminence attending upon an alarum-bell, which he was to ring out in case of fire, or any approaching danger. He had a case or box to shelter him from the weather, but at his utmost peril he was not to seep whilft he was upon duty. These alarum-bells are mentioned in several other places of Shakespear," The word Pallet at the beginning signifies a little low bedo