Page images
PDF
EPUB

With such love as 'tis now, the murkiest den,
The moft opportune place, and strongest fuggeftion
Our worfer Genius can, shall never melt
Mine honour into luft, to take away
The edge of that day's celebration,
When I shall think that Phæbus' steeds are foundered,

Or night kept chained belowA little after, old Prospero, being better acquainted with the fallibilities of human nature than the

young lovers were, repeats the same caution to Ferdinand, again :

Look, thou be true; do not give dalliance
Too much the rein ; the strongest oaths are straw
To th' fire i' th' blood; be more abftemious,

Or else, good night, your vow !
To which Ferdinand answers, as before,

I warrant you, Sir;
The white, cold, virgin-snow upon my heart
Abates tbe ardour of my liver,

S CE N E IV. There is a beautiful, but humiliating reflection on the inconsiderableness of life and grandeur, made by Prospero, in this scene, which is worthy of being added to the golden verses of Pytbagoras, and ought to be placed in gilt characters, as an inscription, on all the palaces, monuments, or triumphal arches of the earth.

Our revels now are ended-These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all Spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air * ;
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capt towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, Thall diffolve,
And, like this unsubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack + behind! We are such puff
As dreams are made of, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
ACT

SCENE I. The feelings and sentiments of humanity, with the nobleness of remission upon repentance, are here finely and most affectingly touched.

Æther. Rack, the most rarified part of a cloud, detached from it, and floating in in higher region,

Ariel

[ocr errors]

Ariel to Profpero..
The king,
His brother, and yours, abide all three distracted;
And the remainder mourning over them,
Brimfull of sorrow and dismay; but chiefly,
Him that you térmed the good old lord Gonzalo ;
His tears run down his beard, like winter drops
From eaves of reais; your charm fo ftrongly works them,
That if you now beheld them, your, africtions

Would become tender.
Profpero. Doft thou think so, Spirit?
Ariel. Mine would, for, were I human.
Propero. And mine fhall.

Haft thou, which art but air, a touch, a feeling
Of their afflictions, and shall not myself,
One of their kind, obat relish all as Sharply,
Paffion's as they, be kindlier moved than ihou art ?
Though with their high wrongs I am struck to the quick,
Yet with my nobler reason, 'gainst my fury
Do I take part. The rarer action is
In virtue ihan in vengeance. They being penitent,
The fole drift of my purpose doth extend
Not a frown further. Go, release them, Ariel ;
My charms I'll break, their fenses I'll restore,
And they fall be themselves.
This last paffage closes the moral scene of the
piece most beautifully ; in rising, by degrees, to the
fummit of all Ethic and Christian virtue, humanity
and forgiveness. I shall, therefore, also conclude my
remarks upon this performance, with an allusion to
a passage in Horace, where he draws a contrast be-
tween Mævius and Homer, which is perfectly appli-
cable to our author, when compared with almost
any other Dramatic writer who has ever attempted
the marvellous :

« One with a flash begins, and ends in smoke;
“ The other out of smoke brings glorious light,
66 And without raising expectation high,
Surprizes us with dazzling miracles.".

Roscommon's Translation of the Art of Poetry.

[ocr errors]

A

MIDSUMMER

i

NIGHT'S DRE A M.

Dramatis Personæ.

M E N.

Theseus, Duke of Athens.
LYSANDER, in love with Hermia.
Demetrius, in love with Hermia.
Philostrate, Master of the Sports to Theseus,
OBERON, King of the Fairies.
Puck, a Fairy

W O M E N.

HIPPOLITA, Princess of the Amazons, betrothed to

Theseus. Hermia, Daughter to Egeus, in love with Lysander. Helena, in love with Demetrius.

A

Midsummer Night's Dream.

.

I

Shall not trouble my readers with the Fable of

this piece, as I can see no general moral that can be deduced from the Argument; nor, as I hinted before * is there much sentiment to be collected even from the Dialogue. But whatever harvest can be gleaned from this unfruitful field, I shall endeavour to pick up, as becomes a faithful steward of the farm.

ACT I. SCENE I.

Theseus to Hermia. To you your father foould be as a God, One that composed your beauties; yea, and one To whom you are but as a form in wax By himn imprinted ; and within his power To leave the figure, or disfigure it. In this speech, the pious notion of the Antients, with regard to this relation, while genuine Nature was their sole Preceptor, is fully expressed. Here the duty of children to their parents, is indeed carried to the height; and yet, methinks, not at all too far. They are the objects of our earliest affections, of our first deference, of our primary obligations. Even superstition, in this case, as far at least as implicit obedience extends, exceeds not true devotion,

The Decalogue was originally written on two tables; five in each. The first refers solely to Religion; the second, to Morality, only. To honour our parents, therefore, as falling within the former line of obligations, is, by this distinction, made one

* Preface to the Tempest, paragraph 4th,

of

« PreviousContinue »