Sidor som bilder

The empresse then, thinking that I was mad.
Like Furies she and both her sonnes were clad,
(She nam'd Revenge, and Rape and Murder they
To undermine and heare what I would say,

I fed their foolish veines4 a certaine space,
Untill my friendes did find a secret place,
Where both her sonnes unto a post were bound,
And just revenge in cruell sort was found.

I cut their throates, my daughter held the pan
Betwixt her stumpes, wherein the bloud it ran:
And then I ground their bones to powder small,
And made a paste for pyes streight therewithall.
Then with their fleshe I made two mighty pyes,
And at a banquet served in stately wise:
Before the empresse set this loathsome meat;
So of her sonnes own flesh she well did eat.

Myselfe bereav'd my daughter then of life,
The empresse then I slewe with bloudy knife,
And stabb'd the emperour immediatelie,
And then myself: even soe did Titus die.

Then this revenge against the moore was found,
Alive they sett him halfe into the ground,
Whereas he stood untill such time he starv'd.
And soe God send all murderers may be serv'd.

4 i. e. encouraged them in their foolish humours, or fancies.







Take those Lips Away.

THE first stanza of this little sonnet, which an eminent critic1 justly admires for its extreme sweetness, is found in

1 Dr. Warb. in his Shakspeare.

Shakspeare's Measure for Measure, act iv. sc. 1. Both the stanzas are preserved in Beaum. and Fletcher's Bloody Brother, act v. sc. 2. Sewel and Gildon have printed it among Shakspeare's smaller poems, but they have done the same by twenty other pieces that were never writ by him; their book being a wretched heap of inaccuracies and mistakes. It is not found in Jaggard's old edition of Shakspeare's Passionate Pilgrime2, &c.

TAKE, oh take those lips away,

That so sweetlye were forsworne;
And those eyes, the breake of day,
Lights, that do misleade the morne:
But my kisses bring againe,
Seales of love, but seal'd in vaine.

Hide, oh hide those hills of snowe,

Which thy frozen bosom beares,

On whose tops the pinkes that growe,
Are of those that April wears:
But first set my poor heart free,
Bound in those icy chains by thee.



2 Mr. Malone, in his improved edit. of Shakspeare's Sonnets, &c. hath substituted this instead of Marlow's Madrigal, printed above; for which he hath assigned reasons, which the reader may see in his vol. x. p. 340.


King Leir and his three Daughters.

THE reader has here an ancient ballad on the subject of King Lear, which (as a sensible female critic has well observed1) bears so exact an analogy to the argument of Shakspeare's play, that his having copied it could not be doubted, if it were certain that it was written before the tragedy. Here is found the hint of Lear's madness, which the old

1 Mrs. Lennox, Shakspeare Illustrated, vol. iii. p. 302.

chronicles 2 do not mention, as also the extravagant cruelty exercised on him by his daughters: in the death of Lear they likewise very exactly coincide. The misfortune is, that there is nothing to assist us in ascertaining the date of the ballad but what little evidence arises from within; this the reader must weigh, and judge for himself.

It may be proper to observe, that Shakspeare was not the first of our dramatic poets who fitted the story of LEIR to the stage. His first 4to. edition is dated 1608; but three years before that, had been printed a play entitled The true Chronicle History of Leir and his three Daughters, Gonorill, Ragan, and Cordella, as it hath been divers and sundry times lately acted, 1605, 4to. This is a very poor and dull performance, but happily excited Shakspeare to undertake the subject, which he has given with very different incidents. It is remarkable, that neither the circumstances of Leir's madness, nor his retinue of a select number of knights, nor the affecting deaths of Cordelia and Leir, are found in that first dramatic piece: in all which Shakspeare concurs with this ballad.

But to form a true judgment of Shakspeare's merit, the curious reader should cast his eye over that previous sketch: which he will find printed at the end of the Twenty Plays of Shakspeare, republished from the quarto impressions by George Steevens, with such elegance and exactness, as led us to expect that fine edition of all the works of our great dramatic poet, which he hath since published.

The following ballad is given from an ancient copy in the Golden Garland, bl. let. entitled, A lamentable Song of the Death of King Leir and his three Daughters. To the tune of When flying Fame.

2 See Jeffery of Monmouth, Holingshed, &c., who relate Leir's history in many respects the same as the ballad.

KING Leir once ruled in this land,
With princely power and peace;
And had all things with hearts content,
That might his joys increase.

Amongst those things that nature gave,
Three daughters fair had he,

So princely seeming beautiful,
As fairer could not be.


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The worst of all extremities

I'll gently undertake:

And serve your highness night and day

With diligence and love;

That sweet content and quietness

Discomforts may remove.

In doing so, you glad my soul,

The aged king reply'd;



But what sayst thou, my youngest girl,
How is thy love ally'd?

My love (quoth young Cordelia then)
Which to your grace I owe,


Shall be the duty of a child,

And that is all I'll show.

And wilt thou shew no more, quoth he,

Than doth thy duty bind?



I well perceive thy love is small,

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She gentler fortunes found;

Though poor and bare, yet she was deem'd
The fairest on the ground:



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