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THE SHAKSPEARIAN DRAMATISTS.
BEN JONSON. 1573–1637. (Manual, p. 152.) 89. FROM THE SAD SHEPHERD; OR, A TALE OF ROBIN HOOD.
epherd, instructs Robin Hood's men how to find a Witch,
and how she is to be hunted.
Alken. Within a gloomy dimble' she doth dwell,
Down in a pit o'ergrown with brakes and briars,
Close by the ruins of a shaken abbey,
Torn with an earthquake down unto the ground,
'Mongst gravès, and grots, near an old charnel-house,
Where you shall find her sitting in her fourm,
As fearful, and melancholic, as that
She is about; with caterpillars' kells,
And knotty cobwebs, rounded in with spells.
Then she steals forth to relief, in the fogs,
And rotten mists, upon the fens and bogs,
Down to the drowned lands of Lincolnshire;
To make ewes cast their lambs, swine eat their farrow;
The housewife's tun not work, nor the milk churn;
Writhe children's wrists, and suck their breath in sleep;
Get vials of their blood; and where the sea
Casts up his slimy ooze, search for a weed
To open locks with, and to rivet charms,
Planted about her, in the wicked seat
Of all her mischiefs, which are manifold,
The scaly beetles, with their habergeons
That make a humming murmur as they fly;
There, in the stocks of trees, white fays do dwell,
And span-long elves that dance about a pool,
With each a little changeling in their arms :
The airy spirits play with falling stars,
And mount the sphere of fire, to kiss the moon;
While she sits reading by the glowworm's light,
Or rotten wood, o'er which the worm hath crept,
The baneful schedule of her nocent charms,
And binding characters, through which she wounds
Her puppets, the Sigilla* of her witchcraft.
All this I know, and I will find her for you;
And show you her sitting in her fourm; I'll lay
My hand upon her; make her throw her scut
Along her back, when she doth start before us.
But you must give her law; and you shall see her
Make twenty leaps and doubles, cross the paths,
And then squat down beside us.
4 Seals, or talismans.
90. FROM SEJANUS. Sejanus, the morning he is condemned by the Senate, receives some tokens
which presage his death.
SEJANUS, POMPONIUS, MINUTIUS, TERENTIUS, &c.
Ter. Are these things true?
Min. Thousands are gazing at it in the streets.
Sej. What's that?
Ter. Minutius tells us here, my lord,
That a new head being set upon your statue,
since found wreathed about it! and
But now a fiery meteor in the form
Of a great ball was seen to roll along
The troubled air, where yet it hangs unperfect,
The amazing wonder of the multitude.
Sej. No more.
Send for the tribunes : we will straight have up
More of the soldiers for our guard. Minutius,
We pray you go for Cotta, Latiaris,
Trio the consul, or what senators
You know are sure, and ours. You, my good Natta,
For Laco, provost of the watch. Now, Satrius,
The time of proof comes on. Arm all our servants,
And without tumult. You, Pomponius,
Hold some good correspondence with the consul:
Attempt him, noble friend. These things begin
To look like dangers, now, worthy my fates.
Fortune, I see thy worst: let doubtful states
And things uncertain hang upon thy will;
Me surest death shall render certain still.
Puts on his lusty green, with gaudy hook,
And hanging script of finest cordevan!
But thou art gone, and these are gone with thee,
And all are dead but thy dear memory:
That shall outlive thee, and shall ever spring,
Whilst there are pipes, or jolly shepherds sing.
And here will I, in honor of thy love,
Dwell by thy grave, forgetting all those joys
That former times made precious to mine eyes,
Only remembering what my youth did gain
In the dark hidden virtuous use of herbs.
That will I practise, and as freely give
All my endeavors, as I gained them free.
Of all green wounds I know the remedies
In men or cattle, be they stung with snakes,
Or charmed with powerful words of wicked art;
Or be they lovesick, or through too much heat
Grown wild, or lunatic; their eyes, or ears,
Thickened with misty film of dulling rheum:
These I can cure, such secret virtue lies
In herbs applied by a virgin's hand.
My meat shall be what these wild woods afford,
Berries and chestnuts, plantains, on whose cheeks
The sun sits smiling, and the lofty fruit
Pulled from the fair head of the straight-grown pine.
On these I'll feed with free content and rest,
When night shall blind the world, by thy side blessed.
A Satyr enters.
Satyr. Thorough yon same bending plain
That Alings his arms down to the main,
And through these thick woods have I run,
Whose bottom never kissed the sun.
Since the lusty spring began,
All to please my master Pan,
Have I trotted without rest
To get him fruit; for at a feast
He entertains this coming night
His paramour the Syrinx bright:
But behold a fairer sight!
By that heavenly form of thine,
Brightest fair, thou art divine,
Sprung from great immortal race
Of the gods, for in thy face
Shines more awful majesty,
Than dull weak mortality
Dare with misty eyes behold,
And live: therefore on this mould
Lowly do I bend my knee
In worship of thy deity.
Deign it, goddess, from my hand
To receive whate'er this land
From her fertile womb doth send
Of her choice fruits; and but lend
Belief to that the Satyr tells,
Fairer by the famous wells
To this present day ne'er grew,
Never better, nor more true.
Here be grapes, whose lusty blood
Is the learned poet's good;
Sweeter yet did never crown
The head of Bacchus; nuts more brown
Than the squirrels' teeth that crack them,
Deign, O fairest fair, to take them,
For these, black-eyed Driopé
Hath oftentimes commanded me
With my clasped knee to climb.
See how well the lusty time
Hath decked their rising cheeks in red,
Such as on your lips is spread.
Here be berries for a queen,
Some be red, some be green;
These are of that luscious meat
The great god Pan himself doth eat:
All these, and what the woods can yield,
The hanging mountain, or the field,
I freely offer, and ere long
Will bring you more, more sweet and strong;
Till when, humbly leave I take,
Lest the great Pan do awake,
That sleeping lies in a deep glade,
Under a broad beech's shade.
I must go, I must run,
Swifter than the fiery sun.
92. FROM THE Two NOBLE KINSMEN. Palamon and Arcite, repining at their hard condition, in being made captives for life in Athens, derive consolation from the enjoyment of each other's company in prison. Pal. O cousin Arcite,
Where is Thebes now? where is our noble country?
Where are our friends and kindreds? never more
Must we behold those comforts, never see
The hardy youths strive for the games of honor,