Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

A lying trophy, and as oft is dumb,
Where dust, and damned oblivion is the tomb
Of honoured bones indeed.

All's Well that Ends Well, ii. 3.

XXX.

• Vanitas vanitatum.'

(Wolsey loq.)
FAREWELL, a long farewell, to all my greatness !
This is the state of man : to-day he puts forth
The tender leaves of hopes ; to-morrow blossoms,
And bears his blushing honours thick upon him.
The third day comes a frost, a killing frost,
And, when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
His greatness is a-ripening, nips his root,
And then he falls, as I do. I have ventured,
Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders,
This many summers in a sea of glory,
But far beyond my depth : my high-blown pride
At length broke under me, and now has left me,
Weary and old with service, to the mercy
Of a rude stream that must for ever hide me.
Vain pomp and glory of this world, I hate ye:
I feel my heart new-opened. O, how wretched
Is that poor man that hangs on princes' favours !
There is, betwixt that smile we would aspire to,
That sweet aspect of princes and their ruin,
More pangs and fears than wars or women have :
And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer,
Never to hope again.

Cromwell.

0, my lord,
Must I then leave you ? Must I needs forego
So good, so noble, and so true a master?
Bear witness, all that have not hearts of iron,
With what a sorrow Cromwell leaves his lord.
The king shall have my service; but my prayers
For ever and for ever shall be yours.

King Henry VIII., iii. 2.

XXXI.

THE STATESMAN'S LESSON.

(Wolsey loq.) CROMWELL, I did not think to shed a tear In all my miseries; but thou hast forced me, Out of thy honest truth, to play the woman. Let's dry our eyes: and thus far hear me, Cromwell ; And, when I am forgotten, as I shall be, And sleep in dull cold marble, where no mention Of me more must be heard of, say, I taught thee, Say, Wolsey, that once trod the ways of glory,

And sounded all the depths and shoals of honour, • Found thee a way, out of his wreck, to rise in ;

A sure and safe one, though thy master missed it.
Mark but my fall, and that that ruined me.
Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away ambition :
By that sin fell the angels; how can man then,
The image of his Maker, hope to win by it?
Love thyself last ; cherish those hearts that hate thee;
Corruption wins not more than honesty.
Still in thy right hand carry gentle peace,
To silence envious tongues. Be just, and fear not

Let all the ends thou aim'st at be thy country's,
Thy God's, and Truth's: then if thou fall'st, Cromwell,
Thou fall’st a blessed martyr.

King Henry VIII., iii. 2.

XXXII.

GOOD ADVICE.

(Leonato loq.)

MEN Can counsel, and speak comfort to that grief Which they themselves not feel; but tasting it, Their counsel turns to passion, which before Would give preceptial medicine to rage, Fetter strong madness in a silken thread, Charm ache with air, and agony with words : No, no; 't is all men's office to speak patience To those that wring under the load of sorrow, But no man's virtue nor sufficiency To be so moral when he shall endure The like himself.

Much Ado About Nothing, v. 1.

XXXIII.

DEATH OF THE STAG.

(Hunters loq.) Duke S. COME, shall we go and kill us venison ? And yet it irks me, the poor dappled fools, Being native burghers of this desert city, Should in their own confines with forked heads Have their round haunches gored. First Lord.

Indeed, my lord,

The melancholy Jaques grieves at that;
And, in that kind, swears you do more usurp
Than doth your brother that hath banished you.
To-day, my lord of Amiens and myself
Did steal behind him, as he lay along
Under an oak, whose antique root peeps out
Upon the brook that brawls along this wood:
To the which place a poor sequestered stag,
That from the hunter's aim had ta'en a hurt,
Did come to languish ; and, indeed, my lord,
The wretched animal heaved forth such groans,
That their discharge did stretch his leathern coat
Almost to bursting, and the big round tears
Coursed one another down his innocent nose
In piteous chase; and thus the hairy fool,
Much marked of the melancholy Jaques,
Stood on the extremest verge of the swift brook,
Augmenting it with tears.

· Poor deer,' quoth he, 'thou makest a testament
As worldlings do, giving thy sum of more
To that which had too much:' then, being there alone,
Left and abandoned of his velvet friends,
• 'Tis right,' quoth he: 'thus misery doth part
The flux of company :' anon, a careless herd,
Full of the pasture, jumps along by him,
And never stays to greet him : 'Ay,' quoth Jaques,

Sweep on, you fat and greasy citizens :
'T is just the fashion : wherefore do you look
Upon that poor and broken bankrupt there?
Thus most invectively he pierceth through
The body of the country, city, court,
Yea, and of this our life; swearing that we
Are mere usurpers, tyrants, and what's worse,

[ocr errors]

To fright the animals, and to kill them up,
In their assigned and native dwelling-place.*

As You Like It, ii. 1.

XXXIV.
SLEEP IN THE PALACE.

(King loq.) How many thousand of my poorest subjects Are at this hour asleep! O sleep! O gentle sleep, Nature's soft nurse, how have I frighted thee, That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down, And steep my senses in forgetfulness ? Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs, Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee, And hushed with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber, Than in the perfumed chambers of the great, Under the canopies of costly state, And lulled with sound of sweetest melody?

Second Part of King Henry IV., iii. 1.

* The genuine feeling here attributed to the philosophic Jaques deserves especial notice as a solitary, or at all events almost solitary, instance of any sort of recognition of the sufferings wantonly inflicted upon the lower animal world. This was a branch of ethics apparently altogether unknown to the Christianity or civilisation of theologians, moralists, philosophers, or poets of the ages preceding the middle of the eighteenth century: nor is it too well known even to the present enlightened age. Its recognition is first adequately expressed by Thomson in The Seasons. See also The Adventurer, passim.

« ForrigeFortsæt »