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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.
Ner. It is your music, madam, of the house.
How many things by season, season'd are,
That is the voice,
Or I am much deceiv'd, of Portia.
Por. He knows me, as the blind man knows the cuckoo,
Dear lady, welcome home, 13
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,
Clarke's Chaucer, vol. ii., p. 151. "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."
10 "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 gone 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,
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.
Then listen I
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
Eros. It does, my lord.
Ant. My good knave, Eros, now thy captain is
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,-
Ver. All furnish'd, all in arms,
All plum'd like estridges that wing the wind;
And witch the world with noble horsemanship.
Hot. No more, no more; worse than the sun in March,
They come like sacrifices in their trim,
All hot, and bleeding, will we offer them;
Up to the ears in blood. I am on fire,
And yet not ours :-Come, let me take my horse,
Against the bosom of the Prince of Wales:
Harry to Harry shall, hot (query not?) horse to horse,14
14 66 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?
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:
To your protection I commend Gods!