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To the best bride-bed will we,
So shall all the couples three,
Shall upon their children be.
With this field-dew, consecrate,
Every fairy take his gait;
And each several chamber bless
And the owner of it blest.
Make no stay:
Meet me all by break of day.
6" Now the hungry lion roars : "-Upon the songs of Puck and Oberon, Coleridge exclaims, "Very Anacreon in perfectness, proportion, and spontaneity! So far it is Greek; but then add, O! what wealth, what wild rangings and yet what compression and condensation of English fancy! In truth, there is nothing in Anacreon more perfect than these thirty lines, or half so rich and imaginative. They form a speckless diamond."-Literary Remains, vol. ii., p. 114.
LOVERS AND MUSIC.
LORENZO and JESSICA, awaiting the return home of PORTIA and NERISSA, discourse of music, and then welcome with it the bride and her attendant.
Lor. The moon shines bright. In such a night as this,"
And they did make no noise,—in such a night
And in such a night
Did pretty Jessica, like a little shrew,
Slander her love, and he forgave it her.
Jes. I would out-night you, did nobody come; But, hark; I hear the footing of a man.
Lor. Who comes so fast in silence of the night?
Step. A friend.
Lor. A friend! what friend? your name, I pray you, friend?
Step. Stephano is my name; and I bring word
My mistress will, before the break of day,
Be here at Belmont: she doth stray about
By holy crosses, where she kneels and prays
Lor. Who comes with her?
Step. None but a holy hermit and her maid.
Lor. Sweet soul, let 's in, and there expect their coming.
And yet no matter; why should we go in?
How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon the bank !
Sit, Jessica: look, how the floor of heaven
There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st,12
But in her motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubims;
Come, ho! and wake Diana with a hymn;
With sweetest touches pierce your mistress' ear,
Jes. I am never merry when I hear sweet music.
For do but note a wild and wanton herd,
A race of youthful and unhanded colts,
Fetching mad bounds,-bellowing and neighing loud,
If they but hear, perchance, a trumpet sound,
You shall perceive them make a mutual stand-
By the sweet power of music. Therefore the poet
Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils ;
Let no such man be trusted.-Mark the music.
* Patines (Pátine, Paténe, Ital.) have been generally understood to mean plates of gold or silver used in the Catholic service. A new and interesting commentator, however (the Rev. Mr. Hunter), is of opinion that the proper word is patterns.
Enter PORTIA and NERISSA, at a distance.
Por. That light we see is burning in my hall;
Ner. When the moon shone, we did not see the candle
A substitute shines brightly as a king,
Ner. It is your music, madam, of the house
How many things by season, season'd are,
Peace, hoa! the moon sleeps with Endymion,
Por. He knows me, as the blind man knows the cuckoo,
7" In such a night as this," &c.—All the stories here alluded to,Troilus and Cressida, Pyramus and Thisbe, Dido and Æneas, Jason and Medea, are in Chaucer's Legend of Good Women. It is pleasant to see our great poet so full of his predecessor. He cannot help, however, inventing particulars not to be found in his original.
8 And sigh'd his soul, &c.
"The day go'th fast, and after that came eve,
He looketh forth by hedge, by tree, by greve (grove):
And far his head over the wall he laid."
Clarke's Chaucer, vol. ii., p. 151.
9" And saw the lion's shadow."-Thisbe in Chaucer does not see
the shadow before she sees the beast (a fine idea !); nor does she in Ovid. In both poets it is a lioness seen by moonlight.
"With bloody mouth, of strangling of a beast."
Cæde leæna boum spumantes oblita rictus.
Metam., lib. iv., v. 97.
Stood Dido with a willow in her hand."-The willow, a symbol of being forsaken, is not in Chaucer. It looks as if Shakspeare had seen it in a picture, where it would be more necessary than in a poem.
11"Medea gather'd the enchanted herbs."-Shakspeare has here from Chaucer to Gower. Warton, in his Observations on the Faerie Queene, vol. i., p. 361, edit. 1807, has noticed a passage in Gower's story, full of imagination. The poet is speaking of Medea going out upon the business noticed by Shakspeare.
Thus it fell upon a night,
When there was naught but starrie light,
She was vanish'd right as she list,
That no wight but herself wist,
And that was at midnight tide.
She glode* forth, as an adder doth.
12"There's not the smallest orb."-The "warbler of wood-notes wild" has here manifestly joined with Plato and other learned spirits to suggest to Milton his own account of the Music of the Spheres, which every reader of taste, I think, must agree with Mr. Knight in thinking "less perfect in sentiment and harmony."-Pictorial Shakspeare, vol. ii., p. 448. The best thing in it is what is observed by Warton: that the listening to the spheres is the recreation of the Genius of the Wood (the speaker) after his day's duty, "when the world is locked up in sleep and silence."
* Glode, is glided. If Chaucer's contemporary had written often thus, his name would have been as famous.