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THE BRIDAL HOUSE BLESSED BY THE FAIRIES.
Puck. Now the hungry lion roars,6
And the wolf behowls the moon,
While the heavy ploughman snores,
All with weary task fordone.
Now the wasted brands do glow,
Whilst the scritch-owl scritching loud,
Puts the wretch that lies in wo,
In remembrance of a shroud.
Now it is the time of night
That the graves all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his sprite,
In the churchway paths to glide:
And we fairies that do run
By the triple Hecate's team,
From the presence of the sun,
Following darkness like a dream,
Now are frolick; not a mouse
Shall disturb this hallow'd house :
I am sent, with broom before,
To sweep the dust behind the door.
Enter OBERON and TITANIA, with their train.
Ober. Through this house give glimmering light
By the dead and drowsy fire:
Every elf and fairy sprite,
Hop as light as bird from brier ;
And this ditty after me
Sing and dance it trippingly.
Tita. First rehearse this song by rote:
To each word a warbling note,
Hand in hand, with fairy grace,
Will we sing and bless the place.
Ober. Now, until the break of day,
Through the house each fairy stray,
To the best bride-bed will we,
Which by us shall blessed be;
And the issue there create
Ever shall be fortunate.
So shall all the couples three,
Ever true in loving be;
And the blots of Nature's hand
Shall not in their issue stand;
Never mole, hare-lip or scar
Nor mark prodigious, such as are
Despised in nativity,
Shall upon their children be.
With this field-dew, consecrate,
Every fairy take his gait;
And each several chamber bless
Through this palace with sweet peace;
E’er shall it in safety rest,
And the owner of it blest.
Make no stay:
Meet me all by break of day.
6« Now the hungry lion roars :”—Upon the songs of Puck and Oberon, Coleridge exclaims, “Very Anacreon in perfectness, proportion, and spontaneity! So far it is Greek; but then add, O! what wealth, what wild rangings and yet what compression and condensation of English fancy! In truth, there is nothing in Anacreon more perfect than these thirty lines, or half so ricl. and imaginative. They form a speckless diamond.”—Literary Remains, vol. ii., p. 114.
LORENZO and Jessica, awaiting the return home of Portia and NE
RISSA, discourse of music, and then welcome with it the bride and her attendant.
Lor. The moon shines bright. In such a night as this,'
When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trecs,
And they did make no noise,-in such a night
Troilus, methinks, mounted the Trojan walls,
And sighed his soul towards the Grecian tenta,
Where Cressid lay that night.
In such a night
Did Thisbe fearfully o’ertrip the dew;
And saw the lion's shadow ere himself,
And ran dismay'd away.
In such a night
Stood Dido with a willow in her hand 10
Upon the wild sea-banks, and wav'd her love
To come again to Carthage.
In such a night
Medea gather'd the enchanted herbell
That did renew old son.
In such a night
Did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew;
And with an unthrift love did run from Venice,
As far as Belmont.
And in such a night
Did young Lorenzo swear he lov'd her well;
Stealing her soul with many vows of faith,
And ne'er a true one.
And in such a night
Did pretty Jessica, like a little shrew,
Slander her love, and he forgave it her.
Jes. I would out-night you, did nobody come;
But, hark; I hear the footing of a man.
Lor. Who comes so fast in silence of the night?
Step. A friend.
Lor. A friend ! what friend ? your name, I pray you, friend?
Step. Stephano is my name; and I bring word
My mistress will, before the break of day,
Be here at Belmont: she doth stray about
By holy crosses, where she kneels and prays
For happy wedlock hours.
Lor. Who comes with her ?
Step. None but a holy hermit and her maid
Lor. Sweet soul, let's in, and there expect their coming.
And yet no matter; why should we go in ?
My friend Stephàno, signify, I pray you,
Within the house, your mistress is at hand;
And bring your music forth into the air.
How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon the bank !
Here will we sit, and let the sounds of music
Creep into our ears; soft stillness and the night,
Become the touches of sweet harmony.
Sit, Jessica: look, how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines* of bright gold;
There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st,12
But in her motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubims ;
Such harmony is in immortal souls ;
But, whilst this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close us in, we cannot hear it.
Come, ho! and wake Diana with a hymn;
With sweetest touches pierce your mistress' ear,
And draw her home with music.
Jes. I am never merry when I hear sweet music.
Lor. The reason is, your spirits are attentive :
For do but note a wild and wanton herd,
A race of youthful and unhanded cclts,
Fetching mad bounds-bellowing and neighing loud,
Which is the hot condition of their blood ;
If they but hear, perchance, a trumpet sound,
Or any air of music touch their ears,
You shall perceive them make a mutual stand-
Their savage eyes turned to a modest gaze
By the sweet power of music. Therefore the poet
Did feign that Orpheus drew trees, stones, and floods,
Since naught so stockish, hard, and full of rage,
But music for the time doth change its nature.
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils ;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus :
Let no such man be trusted.-Mark the music.
* Patines (Pátine, Paténe, Ital.) have been generally understood to mean plates of gold or silver used in the Catholic service. A new and interesting commentator, however (the Rev. Mr. Hunter), is of opinion that the proper word is patterns.
Enter PORTIA and NERISSA, at a distance.
Por. That light we see is burning in my hall;
How far that little candle throws its beams!
So shines a good deed in a naughty world.
Ner. When the moon shone, we did not see the candle
Por. So doth the greater glory dim the less :
A substitute shines brightly as a king,
Until a king be by; and then his state
Empties himself, as doth the inland brook
Into the main of waters. Music ! hark !
Ner. It is your music, madam, of the house
Por. Nothing is good I see without respect;
Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day.
Ner. Silence bestows that virtue on it, madam.
Por. The crow doth sing as sweetly as the lark,
When neither is attended; and, I think,
The nightingale, if she should sing by day,
When every goose is cackling, would be thought
No better a musician than the wren.
How many things by season, season'd are,
To their right praise, and true perfection!
Peace, hoa! the moon sleeps with Endymion,
And would not be awak'd!
That is the voice,
Or I am much deceiv’d, of Portia.
Por. He knows me, as the blind man knows the cuckoo,
By the bad voice.
Dear lady, welcome home.13
7 “ In such a night as this,” &c.-All the stories here alluded to,-Troilus and Cressida, Pyramus and Thisbe, Dido and Æneas, Jason and Medea, are in Chaucer's Legend of Good Women. It is pleasant to see our great poet so full of his predecessor. He cannot help, however, inventing particulars not to be found in his original.
8 And sigh'd his soul, &c.
“ The day go'th fast, and after that came eve,
Sind yet came not Troilus to Crescid:
He looketh forth by hedge, by tree, by greve (grove),
And far his head over the wall he laid."
Clarke's Chaucer, vol. ii., p. 151.
9" And saw the lion's shadow.”—Thisbe in Chaucer does not see