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From MEASURE FOR MEASURE.
173. The Abuse of Authority. — Act II. Sc. 2. Isabella.
O, it is excellent
To have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.
Could great men thunder
As Jove himself does, Jove would ne'er be quiet,
For every pelting, petty officer
Would use his heaven for thunder: nothing but thunder.
Thou rather, with thy sharp and sulphurous bolt,
Splitt'st the unwedgeable and gnarléd oak,
Than the soft myrtle : But man, proud man,
Dressed in a little brief authority;
Most ignorant of what he's most assured, -
His glassy essence,
like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high Heaven,
As make the angels weep: who, with our spleens,
Would all themselves laugh mortal.
From THE MERCHANT OF VENICE.
174. Mercy. – Act IV. Sc. I. Portia. The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath : it is twice blessed;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes :
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The thronéd 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 this sceptred sway;
It is enthronéd 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 justice 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.
From A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM.
175. Oberor's Vision. - Act II. Se. 2. Obe. My gentle Puck, come hither: Thou remember'st
Since once I sat upon a promontory,
And heard a mermaid, on a dolphin's back,
Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath,
That the rude sea grew civil at her song;
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres,
To hear the sea-maid's music.
Obe. That very time I saw (but thou couldst not),
Flying between the cold moon and the earth,
Cupid all armed; a certain aim he took
At a fair vestal, thronéd by the west;
And loosed his love-shaft smartly from his bow,
As it should pierce a hundred thousand hearts:
But I might see young Cupid's fiery shaft
Quenched in the chaste beams of the watery moon;
And the imperial votaress passed on,
In maiden meditation, fancy-free.'
Yet marked I where the bolt of Cupid fell:
It fell upon a little western flower,
Before, milk-white; now, purple with love's wound,
And maidens call it love-in-idleness.
Fetch me that flower; the herb I showed thee once;
The juice of it on sleeping eyelids laid,
Will make or man or woman madly dote
Upon the next live creature that it sees.
Fetch me this herb: and be thou here again,
Ere the leviathan can swim a league.
Puck. I'll put a girdle round about the earth
In forty minutes.
i Queen Elizabeth.
ry 6. The Power of Imagination. — Act. V. Sc. I. Theseus.
I never may believe
These antique fables, nor these fairy toys.
Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover, and the poet,
Are of imagination all compact :
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold
That is the madman: the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt:
The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven,
And, as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
Such tricks hath strong imagination;
That, if it would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
Or, in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush supposed a bear!
From KING JOHN. rying. Lamentation of Constance. - Act III. Sc. 4. K. Philip.
Bind up your hairs.
Const. Yes, that I will; And wherefore will I do it?
I tore them from their bonds; and cried aloud,
O that these hands could so redeem my son,
As they have given these hairs their liberty!
at their liberty,
And will again commit them to their bonds
Because my poor child is a prisoner.
And, father cardinal, I have heard you say,
That we shall see and know our friends in heaven:
If that be true, I shall see my boy again;
For, since the birth of Cain, the first male child,
To him that did but yesterday suspire,
There was not such a gracious creature born.
But now will canker sorrow eat my bud,
And chase the native beauty from his cheek,
And he will look as hollow as a ghost;
As dim and meagre as an ague's fit;
And so he'll die; and, rising so again,
When I shall meet him in the court of heaven
· I shall not know him : therefore never, never
Must I behold my pretty Arthur more.
Pandulph. You hold too heinous a respect of grief.
Const. He talks to me that never had a son.
K. Phi. You are as fond of grief as of your child.
Const. Grief fills the room up of my absent child,
Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,
Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form;
Then, have I reason to be fond of grief.
Fare you well : had you such a loss as I,
I could give better comfort than you do.
I will not keep this form upon my head,
[Tearing off her head-dress.
When there is such disorder in my wit.
O Lord! my boy, my Arthur, my fair son!
My life, my joy, my food, my all the world!
My widow-comfort, and my sorrows' cure!
Brak. Why looks your grace so heavily to-day?
Clar. O, I have passed a miserable night,
So full of fearful dreams, of ugly sights,
That, as I am a Christian faithful man,
I would not spend another such a night,
Though 'twere to buy a world of happy days;
So full of dismal terror was the time.
Brak. What was your dream, my lord? I pray you, tell me.
Clar. Methought that I had broken from the Tower,
And was embarked to cross to Burgundy;
And in my company my brother Gloster:
Who from my cabin tempted me to walk
Upon the hatches; there we looked toward England,
And cited up a thousand heavy times,
During the wars of York and Lancaster,
That had befallen us. As we paced along
Upon the giddy footing of the hatches,
Methought that Gloster stumbled; and, in falling,
Struck me, that thought to stay him, overboard,
Into the tumbling billows of the main.
O Lord! methought what pain it was to drown!
What dreadful noise of water in mine ears!
What sights of ugly death within mine eyes!
Methought I saw a thousand fearful wracks;
A thousand men that fishes gnawed upon;
Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,
Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels,
All scattered in the bottom of the sea.
Some lay in dead men's skulls; and in those holes
Where eyes did once inhabit there were crept,
As 'twere in scorn of eyes, reflecting gems,
That wooed the slimy bottom of the deep,
And mocked the dead bones that lay scattered by.
Had you such leisure in the time of death
To gaze upon these secrets of the deep?
Methought I had; and often did I strive
To yield the ghost: but still the envious flood
Stopped in my soul, and would not let it forth
To find the empty, vast, and wandering air:
But smothered it within my panting bulk,
Which almost burst to belch it in the sea.
Awaked you not in this sore agony?
No, no, my dream was lengthened after life:
O, then began the tempest to my soul !
I passed, methought, the melancholy flood
With that sour ferryman which poets write of,
Unto the kingdom of perpetual night.
The first that there did greet my stranger soul
Was my great father-in-law, renownéd Warwick;
Who spake aloud, " What scourge for perjury
Can this dark monarchy afford false Clarence?”
And so he vanished: Then came wandering by
A shadow like an angel, with bright hair
Dabbled in blood; and he shrieked out aloud,
“ Clarence is come, - false, fleeting, perjured Clarence,
That stabbed me in the field by Tewksbury;
Seize on him, furies, take him unto torment!”
With that, methought, a legion of foul fiends
Environed me, and howléd in mine ears
Such hideous cries, that, with the very noise
I trembling waked, and, for a season after,
Could not believe but that I was in hell;
Such terrible impression made my dream.
No marvel, lord, though it affrighted you;
I am afraid, methinks, to hear you tell it.
O, Brakenbury, I have done these things,
That now give evidence against my soul,
For Edward's sake; and see how he requites me!
O God! if my deep prayers cannot appease thee,
But thou wilt be avenged on my misdeeds,
Yet execute thy wrath on me alone:
O, spare my guiltless wife and my poor children!
I pray thee, gentle keeper, stay by me;
My soul is heavy, and I fain would sleep.