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so; nevertheless I adhere to the assertion, which, if you have patience with me, I undertake to prove.

TALBOT. A fair proposal, certainly; STANLEY and I will listen with all attention to the exposition of your strange creed.

HARTLEY. Well, then, here is Knight's Library edition of the poet, in twelve volumes. I will take up the first six, comprising more than twenty plays; and these plays, which number among them "The Winter's Tale," "As You Like it," and "The Midsummer Night's Dream," contain far more illustrations of nature and country life than the rest of the dramas. Now, if I omit "As You Like it," a pastoral comedy, which might have been composed, and should be read, sub tegmine fagi, I will promise to read, within half an hour, not only every rural paragraph in these volumes, but almost every line which contains an image drawn from external nature.


In the "Two Gentlemen of Verona," after a simile about love and the canker in the rose-bud, a figure of which Shakspeare is strangely fond, I come to a metaphor of Julia's, in which, after blaming her hands for tearing the letter, she exclaims in her pretty anger :—

Injurious wasps! to feed on such sweet honey,
And kill the bees that yield it, with your stings!"

Julia's passion for Proteus awakens within her a brood of sweet fancies. In another place she exclaims to Lucetta, who seeks to qualify and moderate the warmth of her love :

“The more thou damm'st it up, the more it burns ;
The current that with gentle murmur glides,

Thou know'st, being stopp'd, impatiently doth rage, ;
But, when his fair course is not hindered,
He makes sweet music with the enameli'd stones
He overtaketh in his pilgrimage ;
And so by many winding nooks he strays,
With willing sport, to the wild ocean.
Then let me go, and hinder not my course ;
I'll be as patient as a gentle stream,
And make a pastime of each weary step,
Till the last step have brought me to my love ;
And then I'll rest, as, after much turmoil,
A blessed soul doth in Elysium.”

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I may follow up this exquisite passage by a monologue of Valentine's, in which, as Mr. Knight has observed, "we hear the first faint notes of the same delicious train of thought, though greatly modified by the different circumstances of the speaker, that we find in the banished Duke of the Forest of Ardennes :".


66 How use doth breed a habit in a man !
This shadowy desert, unfrequented woods,
I better brook than flourishing peopled towns ;
Here can I sit alone, unseen of any,
And to the nightingale's complaining notes,
Tune my distresses, and record my woes.”

In the “Comedy of Errors ” I find only one passage which will suit my purpose, and the image conveyed in it is as old as Horace. Adriana speaks thus to her husband's twin brother, mistaking him for her spouse :


Come, I will fasten on this sleeve of thine,
Thou art an elm, my husband, I a vine,


Whose weakness married to thy stronger state,
Makes me with thy strength to communicate ;
If aught possess thee from me, it is dross,
Usurping ivy, briar, or idle moss.”

“ Love's Labour Lost” furnishes us with this familiar couplet :

“Love's feeling is more soft, and sensible,

Than are the tender horns of cockled snails


and with a song which belongs without doubt to the region of rural poetry :



“When daisies pied, and violets blue,

And lady-smocks all silver-white,
And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue,

Do paint the meadows with delight,
The cuckoo, then, on every tree,
Mocks married men, for thus sings he,

Cuckoo ;
Cuckoo, cuckoo,-0 word of fear,
Unpleasing to a married ear!


When shepherds pipe on oaten straws,

And merry larks are ploughmen's clocks ;
When turtles tread, and rooks and daws,

And maidens bleach their summer smocks,
The cuckoo, then, on every tree,
Mocks married men, for thus sings he,

Cuckoo ;
Cuckoo, cuckoo,-0 word of fear,
Unpleasing to a married ear!


“ When icicles hang by the wall,

And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,

And milk comes frozen home in pail ;
When blood is nipp’d, and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,

To-who ;
Tu-whit, to-who,-a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

“ When all aloud the wind doth blow,

And coughing drowns the parson's saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,

And Marian's nose looks red and raw,
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,

Tu-whit, to-who,--a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.”

66 All's Well that Ends Well” I can pass over altogether; but in the next play, “A Midsummer Night's Dream,” there are several lines or passages suggestive of country life, or imaginatively descriptive in character. For instance

“ To do observance to a morn of May," a phrase borrowed as you will remember from Chaucer, carries us back in fancy to those “old Mays," when, according to Stow—and I am indebted to Mr. Knight for the quotation—"people were wont to go out into the sweet meadows and green woods, there to rejoice their spirits with the beauty and savour of sweet flowers, and

with the harmony of birds praising God in their kind." "O happy fair," has a simile from nature

The song, in it.

"More tunable than lark to shepherd's ear,
When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear."


Then we have the fancy of the moon-beams

'Decking with liquid pearl the bladed grass,"

the "faint primrose beds" in the wood, the "cowslips tall," which have spots in their "gold coats," and dewdrops in their ears, and the quarrel between Oberon and Titania, who

"Never meet in grove or green,
By fountain clear, or spangled starlight sheen,
But they do square; that all their elves, for fear,
Creep into acorn cups, and hide them there."

In the second act the freaks of Robin Goodfellow are recounted after the following rural fashion :—

FAIRY. "Either I mistake your shape and making quite, Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite, Called Robin Goodfellow; are you not he

That frights the maidens of the villagery ;
Skim milk, and sometimes labour in the quern,
And bootless make the breathless housewife churn
And sometime make the drink to bear no barm,
Mislead night wanderers, laughing at their harm?
Those that Hobgoblin call you, and sweet Puck,
You do their work, and they shall have good luck :
Are not you he?

PUCK. "Thou speak'st aright ; I am that merry wanderer of the night.


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