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Then listen I
To the celestial Sirens' harmony,
That sit upon the nine infolded spheres,
And keep unsteady Nature in her law,
Arcades, v. 62.
The best account I remember to have read of the Music of the Spheres is in the History of Music by Hawkins.
13" Dear lady, welcome home."-Never was a sweeter or more fitting and bridal elegance, than in the whole of this scene, in which gladness and seriousness prettily struggle, each alternately yielding predominance to the other. The lovers are at once in heaven and earth. The new bride is "drawn home" with the soul of love in the shape of music; and to keep her giddy spirits down, she preached that little womanly sermon upon a good deed shining in a "naughty world." The whole play is, in one sense of the word, the most picturesque in feeling of all Shakspeare's. The sharp and malignant beard of the Jew (himself not unreconciled to us by the affections) comes harmlessly against the soft cheek of love.
ANTONY AND THE CLOUDS.
Ant. Eros, thou yet behold'st me?
Eros. Ay, noble lord.
Ant. Sometime we see a cloud that's dragonish :
A vapor sometime; like a bear, or lion,
A tower'd citadel, a pendant rock,
A forked mountain, or blue promontory
With trees upon't that nod unto the world,
And mock our eyes with air; thou hast seen these signs;
Eros. Ay, my lord.
Ant That which is now a horse, even with a thought The rack dislimns; and makes it indistinct,
As water is in water.
Eros. It does, my lord.
Ant. My good knave, Eros, now thy captain is
Even such a body :-here I am,-Antony
Yet cannot hold this shape.
Hotspur. My cousin Vernon! welcome, by my soul !
Sir Richard Vernon. Pray God, my news be worth a welcome, lord The Earl of Westmoreland, seven thousand strong,
Is marching hitherwards; with him, Prince John.
Hot. No harm: what more?
Ver. And further, I have learn'd,
The king himself in person is set forth,
Or hitherwards intended speedily,
With strong and mighty preparation.
Hot. He shall be welcome too. Where is his son,
The nimble-footed mad-cap Prince of Wales,
And his comrades, that daff'd the world aside,
Ver. All furnish'd, all in arms,
All plum'd like estridges that wing the wind ;
As if an angel dropp'd down from the clouds,
And witch the world with noble horsemanship.
Hot. No more, no more; worse than the sun in March,
This praise doth nourish agues. Let them come;
They come like sacrifices in their trim,
And to the fire-ey'd maid of smoky war,
All hot, and bleeding, will we offer them;
Up to the ears in blood. I am on fire,
To hear this rich reprisal is so nigh,
And yet not ours :-Come, let me take my horse,
Who is to bear me, like a thunder-bolt,
Against the bosom of the Prince of Wales:
Harry to Harry shall, hot (query not?) horse to horse,14
Harry to Harry shall, hot horse to horse."--I cannot help thinking that the word hot in this line ought to be not. "Hot horse to horse" is not a very obvious mode of speech, and it is too obvious an image. The horses undoubtedly would be hot enough. But does not Hotspur mean to say that the usual shock of horses will not be sufficient for the extremity of his encounter with the Prince of Wales; their own bodies are to be dashed together, and not merely the horses:
14 Harry to Harry shall, not horse to horse :
so closely does he intend that their combat shall hug.
IMOGEN IN BED.
(Jachimo, dared by Imogen's husband to make trial of her fidelity, hides in her chamber in order to bring away pretended proofs against it.)
Imo. (reading in bed.) Who's there? my woman Helen?
Lady. Please you, madam.
Imo. What hour is it?
Lady. Almost midnight, madam.
Imo. I have read three hours then: mine eyes are weak:
Fold down the leaf where I have left:-to bed:
Take not away the taper; leave it burning :
And if thou canst awake by four o' the clock,
I prithee, call me. Sleep hath seized me wholly.
To your protection I commend me, Gods!
Guard me, I beseech ye!
[Sleeps. JACHIMO, from the trunk.
Jach. The crickets sing, and man's o'er-labor'd sense
Repairs itself by rest: our Tarquin thus
Did softly press the rushes, ere he waken'd
The chastity he wounded.-Cytherea,
How bravely thou com'st thy bed! fresh lily,
How dearly they do 't-'Tis her breathing that
O sleep, thou ape of Death, lie dull upon her!
[Takes off her bracelet.
As slippery, as the Gordian knot was hard!
A mole, cinque-spotted, like
On her left breast, the crimson drops
I' the bottom of a cowslip. Here's a voucher,
Swift, swift, you dragons of the night, that dawning
One, two, three,-Time, time!
[Goes into the trunk. The scene closes.
BORN, 1574,-DIED, 1637.
IF Ben Jonson had not tried to do half what he did, he would have had a greater fame. His will and ambition hurt him, as they always hurt genius when set in front of it. Lasting repu tation of power is only to be obtained by power itself; and this, in poetry, is the result not so much, if at all, of the love of the power, as of the power of love,-the love of truth and beauty,great and potent things they,-not the love of self, which is generally a very little thing. The "supposed rugged old bard," notwithstanding his huffing and arrogance, had elegance, feeling, imagination, great fancy; but by straining to make them all greater than they were, bringing in the ancients to help him, and aiming to include the lowest farce (perhaps by way of outdoing the universality of Shakspeare), he became as gross in his pretensions, as drink had made him in person. His jealous irritability and assumption tired out the gentlest and most generous of his contemporaries—men who otherwise really liked him (and he them),-Decker for one; and he has ended in appearing to posterity rather the usurper than the owner of a true renown. He made such a fuss with his learning, that he is now suspected to have had nothing else. Hazlitt himself cannot give him credit for comic genius, so grave and all-in-all does his pedantry appear to that critic,- -an erroneous judgment, as it seems to me,-who cannot help thinking, that what altogether made Ben what he was projected his ultra-jovial person rather towards comedy than tragedy; and as a proof of this, his trage dies are all borrowed, but his comedies his own. Twelfth Night and other plays of Shakspeare preceded and surpassed