Page images
PDF
EPUB

And bid us welcome to your sheep-shearing,
As your good flock shall prosper.
PERDITA. Sir, welcome!

[TO POLIXENES and CAMILLO.
It is my father's will I should take on me
The hostess-ship o' the day: you 're welcome, sir !
Give me those flowers there, Dorcas. -Reverend sirs,
For you there's rosemary and rue; these keep
Seeming, and savor, all the winter long :
Grace and remembrance be unto you both,
And welcome to our shearing!

POLIXENES. Shepherdess
(A fair one are you), well you fit our ages
With flowers of winter.

PERDITA. Sir, the year growing ancient,
Not yet on summer's death, nor on the birth
Of trembling winter, the fairest flowers o' the season
Are our carnations, and streak'd gilly-flowers,
Which some call nature's bastards : of that kind
Our rustic garden's barren; and I care not
To get slips of them.

POLIXENES. Wherefore, gentle maiden,
Do you neglect them?

PERDITA. For I have heard it said
There is an art, which, in their piedness, shares
With great creating nature.

POLIXENES. Say, there be:
Yet nature is made better by no mean,
But nature makes that mean : 80, o'er that art
Which, you say, adds to nature, is an art
That nature makes. You see, sweet maid, we marry
A gentler scyon to the wildest stock;
And make conceive a bark of baser kind
By bud of nobler race. This is an art
Which does mend nature, change it rather : but
The art itself is nature.

PERDITA. So it is.

POLIXENES. Then make your garden rich in gilly-flowers, And do not call them bastards,

PERDITA. I'll not put
The dibble in earth, to set one slip of them;
No more than, were I painted, I would wish
This youth should say, 'twere well; and only therefore
Desire to breed by me. Here's flowers for you ;
Hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram ;
The marigold, that goes to bed with the sun,

And with him rises, weeping: these are flowers of middle summer, and, I think, they are given To men of middle age. You are very welcome.

CAMILLO. I should leave grazing, were 1 of your flock, And only live by gazing.

PERDITA. Out, alas! You'd be so lean, that blasts of January Would blow you through and through. Now, my fairest friends, I would I had some flowers o' the spring, that might Become your time of day; and your's, and your's, That wear upon your virgin branches yet Your maiden-heads growing : 0 Proserpina, For the flowers now, that frighted, thou let'st fall From Dis's waggon: daffodils, That come before the swallow dares, and take The winds of March with beauty : violets dim, But sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes, Or Cytherea's breath ; pale primroses, That die unmarried, ere they can behold Bright Phæbus in his strength (a malady Most incident to maids); bold oxlips, and The crown-imperial; lilies of all kinds, The fleur-de-lis being one! O, these I lack To make you garlands of ; and, my sweet friend, To strow him o'er and o'er.

FLORIZEL What, like a corse?

PERDITA. No, like a bank, for love to lie and play on;
Not like a conse: or if not to be buried,
But quick, and in mine arms. Come, take your flowers;
Methinks, I play as I have seen them do
In Whitsun pastorals : sure thus robe of mine
Does change my disposition.

FLORIZEL What you do,
Still betters what is done. When you speak, sweet,
r'd have you do it ever : when you sing,
I'd have you buy and sell mo; so, give alms;
Pray, so; and for the ordering your affairs,
To sng them too. When you do dance, I wish you
A wave o' the sea, that you might ever do
Nothing but that : move still, still so,
And own no other function. Each your doing.
So ungular in each particular,
Crowns what you're doing in the present deeds,
That all your acts are queens.

Peapta O Doneles,
Your praises are too large ; but that your youth

And the true blood, which peeps forth fairly through it,
Do plainly give you out an unstained shepherd;
With wisdom I might fear, my Doricles,
You woo'd me the false way.

FLORIZEL. I think you have
As little skill to fear, as I have purpose
To put you to 't But come, our dance, I pray •
Your hand, my Perdita : so turtles pair,
That never mean to part.

PERDITA. I'll swear for 'em.

POLIXENES. This is the prettiest low-born lass that ever
Ran on the green-sward; nothing she does, or seerns,
But smacks of something greater than herself,
Too noble for this place.

CAMILLO. He tells her something
That makes her blood look out: good sooth she is
The queen of curds and cream.'

This delicious scene is interrupted by the father of the prince discovering himself to Florizel, and haughtily breaking the intended match between his son and Perdita. When Polixenes goes out, Perdita says,

“Even here undone :
I was not much afraid; for once or twice
I was about to speak; and tell him plainly,
The self-same sun that shines upon his couil,
Hides not his visage from our cottage, but
Looks on't alike. Wilt please you, sir, begone ?

[T. FLORIZEL.
I told you what would come of this. Beseech you,
of your own state take care : this dream of mine,
Being now awake, I'll queen it no inch farther,

But milk my ewes and weep." As Perdita, the supposed shepherdess, turns out to be the daugh ter of Hermione, and a princess in disguise, both feelings of the pride of birth and the claims of nature are satisfied by the for. tunate event of the story, and the fine romance of poetry is reconciled to the strictest court etiquette.

ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL.

All's WELL THAT ENDS Well is one of the most pleasing of our author's comedies. The interest is however more of a se rious than of a comic nature. The character of Helen is one of great sweetness and delicacy. She is placed in circum. stances of the most critical kind, and has to court her husband both as a virgin and a wife : yet the most scrupulous nioety of female modesty is not once violated. There is not one thought or action that ought to bring a blush into her cheeks, or that for a moment lessens her in our esteem. Perhaps the romantie attachment of a beautiful and virtuous girl to one placed above her hopes by the circumstances of birth and fortune, was never so exquisitely expressed as in the reflections which she utten when young Roussillon leaves his mother's house, under whose protection she has been brought up with him, to repair to the French king's court.

"HELENA. Oh, were that all-I think not on my father,
And these great tears grace his remembrane more
Than those I shed for him. What was he 'ike?
I have forgot him. My imagination
Carrien no favor in it, but my Bertram's.
I am undone, there is no living, hone,
If Bertram be away. It were all one
That should love a bright particular star,
And think to wed it; he is so above me:
In his bright radiance and collateral light
Must I be comforted, not in hus sphere.
Th' ambition in my lewe thus plagues itself;
The hund that would be mated by the lion,
Must die for love. "I was pretty, thoa plague,

To see him every hour, to sit and draw
His arched brows, his hawking eye, his curls
In our heart's table: heart too capable
of every line and trick of his sweet favor,
But now he's gone, and my idolatrous fancy
Must sanctify his relics.”

The interest excited by this beautiful picture of a fond and innocent heart is kept up afterwards by her resolution to follow him to France, the success of her experiment in restoring the king's health, her demanding Bertram in marriage as a recompense, his leaving her in disdain, her interview with him afterwards disguised as Diana, a young lady whom he importunes with his secret addresses, and their final reconciliation when the consequences of her stratagem and the proofs of her love are fully made known. The persevering gratitude of the French king to his benefactress, who cures him of a languishing distemper by a prescription hereditary in her family, the indul. gent kindness of the Countess, whose pride of birth yields, al. most without a struggle, to her affection for Helen, the honesty and uprightness of the good old lord Lafeu, make very interesting parts of the picture. The wilful stubbornness and youthful petulance of Bertram are also very admirably described. The comic part of the play turns on the folly, boasting, and cowardice of Parolles, a parasite and hanger-on of Bertram's, the detection of whose false pretensions to bravery and honor forms a very amusing episode. He is first found out by the old lord Lafeu, who says, “ The soul of this man is in his clothes ;" and it is proved afterwards that his heart is in his tongue, and that both are false and hollow. The adventure of “the bringing off of his drum” has become proverbial as a satire on all ridicu. lous and blustering undertakings which the person never means to perform: nor can anything be more severe than what one of the bystanders remarks upon what Parolles says of himself, "Is it possible he should know what he is, and be that he is ?” Yet Parolles himself gives the best solution of the difficulty afterwards when he is thankful to escape with his life and the loss of character; for, so that he can live on, he is by no means queamish about the loss of pretensions, to which he had sense

« PreviousContinue »