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ond class belong, and if the great poet find that Lysander and Hermia then arhad not elected to seem to nod a bit in range to elope “ to-morrow night,” their its construction it would hold an honor- trysting-place being a certain wood a able place in my tirst group. It is, how- league without the town. Near the end ever, the only one of Shakespeare's plays of the scene they disclose their purpose in which I have discovered an inexplica- to the woe-begone Helena, who has just ble variance between the different parts entered, full of her own heart-grief, and of his scheme of time. In the very first she at once resolves to curry a little lines of this comedy the Duke of Athens, miserable favor with her unkind DemeTheseus, — a gentleman as protean in trius by revealing their scheme to him. his political relations as in his love af- Scene 2, which succeeds, is plainly confairs, — laments to Hippolyta, the bus- temporaneous with Scene 1, or follows it kined Queen of Amazons, whom he has closely. Here the hard-handed craftswon with his sword, that their wedding men of Athens make the original cast must be delayed until“ four happy days of parts in the “lamentable comedy” of bring in another moon ; to which his Pyramus and Thisbe, and the last word betrothed soothingly and gracefully re- of Quince, their stage manager and plies, —
prompter, is an appointment to meet "Four days will quickly steep themselves in “ to-morrow night” in the palace wood nights;
for a moonlight rehearsal. It is this Four nights will quickly dream away the time; And then the moon, like to a silver bow
same “to-morrow night " which teems New bent in heaven, shall behold the night with wonders for all the chief persons Of our solemnities."
of the piece ; the whole of Acts II. and The date of their wedding having been III. is included within it, and in Scene 1 thus fixed by the high contracting par- of Act IV. day breaks upon the followties, old Egeus enters, “full of vexa- ing morn. This is the night of midsumtion," to complain that his daughter mer dreams and fancies and fairies, of Hermia will not respect his choice of whose enchantment, heightened someDemetrius as her husband, but persists times by melodies of great musicians, in clinging to Lysander, a youth after the world has drunk without satiety for her own heart; and Hermia is then and more than two centuries. Within this there warned by the Duke that “ by the night Puck works all his delicious unnext new moon,” “the sealing day be- malicious mischief, and makes “ all well twixt ” his love and him, she must be again ;” Oberon and Titania renew prepared to elect whether she will obey their dainty quarrels and their love ; her father, surrender her life to “ chant- and Bottom tastes the doubtful joys of ing faint hymns to the cold, fruitless empire in fairyland and in a fairy queen’s moou ” as a votaress of Diana, or die heart. It is a single night, as is said the death of a disobedient child. The over and over again by the text. in. diimportant date for which everything is vers ways. But scarcely has the sequent thus fixed must have been, even by the morning dawned in Act IV. when Theancient process of princely arithmetic, seus, out a-hunting, discovers the pairs with all its cheerful counting at both of lovers asleep upon the ground, awakends, at least three days distant, as we ens them with his horns, and judicially should reckon it. But the play pro- informs Hermia that the day of his marceeds to cut the time down by a full riage and her fateful choice has arrived ; twenty-fonr hours. Fixing our punctum and nobody contradicts him, or asks his temporis in the first scene of Act I., we grace to count up the time once more 1 The reader is again asked to note that Titus
on his ducal fingers. Scene 2 of Act Andronicus is not considered in these articles. IV. is in the afternoon of the same day,
- all the couples having been married, speak, until at the close of the last diaand “the Duke having dined,” — and logue of the second act the streams meet shows Bottom's return from dreamland, and join. The first act covers a part of and the preparation of the humble ac- a single day, with scenes laid both at tors for immediate departure to the pal- Venice and Belmont, and the syncopaace; and Act V. devotes the “ long age tion of scenes helps to mark the progof three hours between after supper and ress of time. Scene 1 of Act I., wherein bedtime” to the “tragical mirth” of Bassanio first discloses to Antonio his Pyramus and Thisbe, followed, when the pecuniary needs and his designs on Porpalace is hushed, by the appearance of tia’s hand, is in the forenoon; for within the fairies and their blessing of the it appointments for dinner are made by bride-beds. Parts of three successive Lorenzo and the others, and its last days have therefore been occupied in word is Antonio's suggestion that both the action, and a whole day has some- he and Bassanio shall go "presently ” how dropped out. Nice customs courte- and inquire what can be done among sied to great kings in Henry V.'s time, the money-lenders. Scene 2 of Act I. and perhaps in the imperial age of The- gives the charming dialogue between seus the calendars made similar obei. Portia and Nerissa, in which the golden
But on the whole, I think we haired mistress of Belmont displays her must believe that the explanation lies in intuitive wit, her distaste for her present the nature of the play, whose characters, suitors, and her inclination toward Baseven when clothed with human flesh and sanio; and just at its close a servant anblood, have little solidity or reality. I nounces that the Prince of Morocco will fancy that Shakespeare would smilingly arrive “to-night.” Scene 3 of Act I. plead guilty as an accessory after the presents Bassanio's and Antonio's fafact to the blunder, and charge the prin- mous first interview with Shylock : a cipal fault
Puck and his crew, who usurer has soon been found; it still lacks would doubtless rejoice in the annihila- of the hour for dinner, and Bassanio's tion of a mortal's day. If this will not courteous invitation to the Jew to share suffice, the problem must remain un- the meal with him is given and received solved in these pages, and may be laid in the fashion with which every one is aside in company with the vexing ques- familiar. Scene 1 of Act II. is laid tions, what became of the fathers and in Belmont, and discloses the Prince of fathers-in-law, whose parts were careful- Morocco as an active suitor. It is not ly assigned at the first meeting of the on the evening of his arrival named in troupe, and how Mr. N. Bottom, the Scene 2, Act I., but is probably on the leading man of the Quince “combina- next morning, and at the moment, as the tion,” could have achieved triumphant text fairly shows, of his first formal resuccess in the exacting character of ception by Portia, for “after dinner” Pyramus without a single full rehearsal. his “ hazard” is to be made. Scene 2
The first two acts of the Merchant of returns to Venice, and exhibits the deVenice occupy a few days, three, or lightful encounter of Launcelot and his perhaps four, being the number nearest father and the entrance of the former into to the indications of the text. In these the service of Bassanio, who has made scenes the separate currents of Bas- prompt use of his borrowed purse in sanio's and Portia's lives are shown in enlarging his retinue and in arranging a sort of irregular alternation, so to a great supper and a departure to Belmont, all for that evening. The short three full months which the royal friend scenes which follow cover parts of the and merchant has silently spent in the same afternoon and night; and in Scene shadow of deepening anxiety Bassanio 6, after Bassanio's supper and the elope has passed in the sunlight of Portia's ment of Jessica and Lorenzo, the hour eyes, and his mistress even now tries to being “pine o'clock” and Gratiano persuade him “ to pause a day or two” stayed for, the purposed mask is given longer before he hazards. Upon the same up, and Bassanio hastily sets sail, in or- scene, just after Bassanio has made his der to take advantage of the wind, which choice of the leaden casket, Lorenzo and has “ come about ” to a favorable quar- his runaway bride enter. They also have ter. Scene 7 is in Belmont, and puts a passed the ninety days in the gayest beautiful end to the second day of the fashion, have spent and traveled much, action of the comedy with the Prince of and the report of some of their costly Morocco's fiery but fruitless attack upon doings in Genoa at play and monkeythe caskets. The interval between the buying has given extreme pain to the point just reached and the close of the lady's father. From this point to the second act occupies as much time as end of the play the action occupies a would suffice for Bassanio's voyage to few days, probably three or four at most; Belmont, and there is every reason to the time spent being just so much as an suppose would not exceed a couple of ardent husband, separated from his wife days. The interim is partially occupied on their wedding-day, will allow to be in the comedy by Scene 8 in Venice, consumed, — which is, of course, only wherein Salarino and Salanio discuss the what will suffice to reach Venice, attend effect of Jessica's elopement upon her court, and return to Belmont. Immedifather, his unsuccessful attempt, after ately after her new husband's departure, his discovery of her flight, to stop Bas- in Scene 4, Act III., Portia dispatches sanio's ship, and the alarming news about her faithful Balthazar to her cousin, one of Antonio's mercantile ventures ; Doctor Bellario, at Padua, and instructs and by Scene 9 at Belmont, where the the serving-man to bring the notes and Prince of Arragon exhibits his “ delib- garments which he shall receive from erate” folly among the caskets, the lat- the doctor," with imagined speed," ter scene and second act concluding with “Unto the tranect, to the common ferry the announcement of Bassanio's arrival Which trades to Venice;" at Portia's house. There is now an in- she adds, – terval of almost exactly three months,
1 Shylock's violent refusal having particular re- supper" was much less substantial than that of lation to the danger of encountering the forbidden a midday meal, inasmuch as within a few hours dish of pork, it may be inferred that the fare of a the Jew attends Bassanio's evening entertainment.
“Waste no time in words, agreeing with the time for payment and
But get thee gone ; I shall be there before thee :" forfeiture stipulated in the memorable all of which looks much as if the lovely bond, and somewhere within this pe- lady did not visit Padua and her learned riod are the great interviews (Scene 1, cousin at all, but got her instructions Act III.) between Salanio, Salarino, and from him by letter and committed them Shylock, and Tubal and Shylock, - the to memory, while she donned her docJew's direction to his agent, at the close tor's habit, en route from Belmont to of the scene, to "fee an officer and be- Venice. But there is no occasion to be speak him a fortnight before " the bond shocked at this. Doctor Bellario seems to falls due, tending to show that the three have assumed the responsibility for all months have nearly expired. In the the egregious lying, and the matter is to latter part of the “casket scene” of be taken as one of the “properties” of Bassanio and Portia (Scene 2, Act III.) the scene, as Rosalind's unpenetrated distidings arrive over Antonio's hand that guise and many other things in the drama the bond to the Jew is forfeit. The are to be regarded, — as a part of the picturesque trappings of a romantic story it is still the same day. Mistress Page upon which it would be foolish to bring has just received her letter, aud in the a microscope to bear. That the dis- first flush of her amused disgust is visited tance from Belmont to Venice was short by Mistress Ford, who comes to tell of may be inferred from the gallant Bas- the fat knight's wooing of herself. The sanio's vow to his young wife, that until pair straightway begin to plot their retheir reunion he will not take a night's venge, and with the close of this scene rest in bed (Act III., Scene 2, ad finem). the first day ends, the last word being The trial scene (Act IV., Scene 1) occu- the utterance of Ford's jealous resolve pies a long forenoon, and ends with the to visit Falstaff in disguise. The secDuke's request to Portia to dine with ond day begins with Scene 2, Act II. lt him. Scene 2 of the same act succeeds is early in the forenoon, for Ford, unclosely, and in it Portia, having refused der the name of Brook, sends up to FalBassanio's invitation to dinner and ob- staff“ a morning's draft of sack.” Mrs. tained his ring, sets out "to-night" for Quickly arrives directly afterward, with Belmont, where she undertakes to ar- her “good morrow” to his “ worship" rive “ a day before ” her husband. She and a message from Mrs. Ford appointseems a little to have retarded her paceing an interview between ten and eleven when near her home, and a message con- o'clock, A. M., when“ her husband will veying her intent precedes her arrival be absence from his house.” The last there, wbich antedates Bassanio's but a scene of Act II. and the first two of few minutes. When the comedy ends it Act III. fit in after this interview, and is “ but two hours to-day,” and the happy include the abortive attempts at a duel night of the final scene may well be be- between Dr. Caius and Sir Hugh, Ford's lieved to be that of the day following angry self-communing, and his insistence the trial in Venice.
to his friends that they shall forth with The action of the Merry Wives of accompany him to his house, where he Windsor apparently occupies portions expects to surprise his wife and Falstaff. of four successive days. The time is Scene 3 is at the hour and place of Falnot shown with mathematical precision, staff's rendezvous with Mistress Ford, but is indicated plainly enough in includes his buck-basket adventure, and Shakespeare's usual fashion. Begin- ends with Ford's discomfiture and his inning at Scene 1 of Act I., the hour is in vitation to his party to stay to dinner. In the forenoon. Falstaff meets Justice the same scene an appointment is made Shallow, Master Slender, and Sir Hugh by all the gentlemen of the company to Evans, and all go into Page's to dinner, go " a-birding” with Page " to-morrow where their host hopes they will “ drink morning.” Scene 5 of Act III. concludes down all unkindness." At this dinner the second day. Master Brook has been Falstaff makes his imagined conquest bidden early in the day to visit Falstaff of the merry wives. Scene 2 is near again “soon at night,” in order to hear the end of the dinner, when there's still the story of the latter's success with “pippins and cheese to come.” Scene 3 Mrs. Ford. The night and visitor arrive, takes place in the Garter Inn. It is and Falstaff gives his masterly account later in the same day, for Falstaff“ even of his launch“ hissing hot” into the now" had “good eyes” of the two Thames. Earlier in the same scene the ladies, and with characteristic swiftness fat knight has been pacified by Mrs. in purpose and pursuit he at once writes Quickly, and has consented to another his seductive letters, and in the same meeting with Mistress Ford“ to-morrow scene dispatches them to Mistress Ford morning between eight and nine," when and Mistress Page. In Scene 1, Act II., the husbands have gone a-birding."
In Scene 2, Act IV., the morning of the of the play seems at first a little inthird day begins with the second inter- volved, but is really simple, and in orview of Falstaff and Mrs. Ford by ap- der to be understood and enjoyed needs pointment at the early hour just named; only to be examined with care and and presently Falstaff is forced to dis- patience. The action between its exguise himself as the aunt of Mrs. Ford's treme points includes a space of three maid, " the fat woman of Brentford,” months and a few days, the longer peand gets the beating whose blows yet riod being exactly the length of Viola's resound through the balls of fame. In service in the court of Orsino (vide Scene 4, Act IV., Ford has been told the the Duke's speech to Antonio, Act V., whole truth, and all put their wits to- Scene 1 ad init.) ; but from Scene 4 of gether against Falstaff, to whom a mes- Act I, the whole time actually occupied sage is “straight” to be sent to meet is but a part of two days, the second of the merry wives in the park at mid- which is packed as full of incident as an night. Scene 5 of the act ends the egg is full of meat. The first two scenes third day, Falstaff having arrived at his of the comedy are like chords severed inn, and doffed the feminine attire in from each other by a rather long rest, which he was beaten into all the col- yet bound to each other by the laws of ors of the rainbow." The last scene of harmonic sequence. In the first the the act is on the fourth and final day, Duke is introduced, and his virile but and in it Fenton prevails upon
mine fantastic passion for Olivia and the Host of the Garter to assist in his elope- lady's year-old grief and seclusion are ment with Anne Page from Ilerne's oak described in a few short meaning-laden “ to-night twixt twelve and one.” The sentences. In the second scene Viola first scene of Act V. makes the con- appears, just delivered from the perils nection of time entirely plain. Mrs. of shipwreck, and takes her resolution Quickly, having returned to the charge to go to the nearest city of Illyria, and upon Falstaff which she began the day in the guise of “an eunuch ” to enter before (Act IV., Scene 5 ad finem), has the service of its ruler. The third scene overcome luis objections to the new idea makes the spectator acquainted with Sir of “the two parties," and he promises to Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguemeet them at the oak at midnight ; and cheek, two gentlemen whom every one in answer to Ford's inquiry, “ Went you would keep among his friends even if not to her yesterday, sir, as you told me he were forced to spare several better you had appointed ?” he gives a brief but men in consequence. The position of this deliciously humorous account of his last scene in the time of the action is not mishap. The three succeeding scenes marked, and the whole of it is designed are at different hours of the evening, and to strike another note important to the the fourth day closes in Windsor Park, color of the entire harmony. With Scene soon after midnight, with the last merry 4 the effectual movement of the piece revenge of the merry wives, the discom- begins. Viola is in man's attire, and in fiture of Master Slender and Dr. Caius, tendance, under the name of Cesario, and the secret marriage of Anne Page upon Orsino. Three months have passed, to the elegant and mysterious Fenton, as was said above. Valentine remarks, who forestalls his parents-in-law by ad- “If the Duke continue these favors toministering to them a serious lecture in wards you, Cesario, you are like to be advance upon the wickedness of their much advanced; he hath known you mercenary spirit.
but three days, and already you are no The lapse of time in Twelfth Night stranger.” But these three days of has exceptional interest. The scheme knowledge obviously and naturally mean