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I jest to Oberon, and make him smile,
In the second scene of this act, Oberon and Titania meet and taunt each other with the “forgeries of jealousy." Titania tells her king and lord that he has
“Stolen away from fairy land,
And in the shape of Corin sat all day,
Oberon, on the other hand, accuses her of loving Theseus ; and then she exclaims in reply
“ These are the forgeries of jealousy ;
from the sea
The nine men's morris is filled up with mud ;
The pretty conceit of Cupid's “ fiery shaft,"
“ Quenched in the chaste beams of the watery moon,"
while the fair vestal ! (save the mark !) passed on in maiden meditation, is perhaps, as charmingly inappropriate as any that poet's fancy ever conceived. I refer to it because the bolt of Cupid having missed, naturally enough, the square, ugly woman-who, in poetic fiction, is termed an imperial votaress
“Fell upon a little western flower-
My next quotation needs no comment
“ I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where ox-lips and the nodding violet grows;
Bottom's ornithological song I will omit; also the beautiful passage in which Helena recals the memory of her friendship with Hermia, and speaks of
“ Two lovely berries, moulded on one stem,”
herself being one of the twain ; but Bottom's request to Cobweb to bring him “a red-hipped humble-bee on the top of a thistle," and to have a care that “the honey-bag break not,” is too good to be passed over; so is Titania's sylvan fancy as she clasps the ass-headed fool in her arms, and exclaims
“So doth the woodbine the sweet honeysuckle
Gently entwist ; the female ivy so
And now I come to the “ Taming of the Shrew,” in which, however unpromising the subject, there is here and there a line, betokening Shakspeare's observation of nature and out-door life. Such, for instance, as the following
“ Thy hounds shall make the welkin answer them,
And fetch shrill echoes from the hollow earth."
“Say that she frowns ; I'll say, she looks as clear
As morning roses newly washed with dew.”
“ Kate, like the hazel-twig,
Two more quotations, and I shall have done with this play. Petruchio says
“For 'tis the mind that makes the body rich ;
And Kate, when she is tamed, says
“A woman mov'd is like a fountain troubled,
Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty ;
Adieu to thee, sweet Kate, and to thy mad-brain rudesby of a husband !
The next play is “The Merchant of Venice," one of Shakspeare's most perfect works—according to my opinion, and to Schlegel's—yet it is not until the 4th act that I find a passage to quote. Antonio is the speaker, and his illustrations are exactly adapted to his purpose ; but Antonio, and therefore Shakspeare, could have made them without any personal observation of nature.
“I pray you, think you question with the Jew,
You may as well go stand upon the beach,
And then, in the course of the same conversation, Antonio adds
I am a tainted wether of the flock,
The three first lines of the delicious scene with which the 5th act commences, may be claimed as our property
“ The moon shines bright :-In such a night as this,
When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees,
but of what happened in such a night I need not remind you. The beauty of the scene inspired one of the loftiest strains which are to be found, even in Shakspeare
“How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank !
STANLEY. Thanks for reading us that passage, for it is one that can never be heard too often.
HARTLEY. Certainly, in the confined track along which I am running, I am not likely to come upon another equal to it; nor, indeed, do I remember one in Shakspeare, which surpasses it in sublimity, except it be in “ The Tempest." “ The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces," &c., will ever live as one of the noblest descriptions of this world's mutability. Omitting one or two illustrations of Portia's, which need not detain us, I turn to " Much Ado