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1st Hag. I have been all day looking after A raven, feeding upon a quarter;

And soon as she turn'd her beak to the south,
I snatch'd this morsel out of her mouth

2nd Hag. I have been gathering wolves' hairs,
The mad dog's foam, and the adder's ears;
The spurging of a dead man's eyes,
And all since the evening star did rise

3rd Hag. I, last night, lay all alone

On the ground to hear the mandrake groan ;
And pluck'd him up, though he grew full low,
And as had done, the cock did crow.

4th Hag. And I have been choosing out this skull
From charnel-houses that were full;
From private grots, and public pits;
And frightened a sexton out of his wits.


5th Hag. Under a cradle I did creep,

By day; and when the child was asleep
At night, I suck'd the breath; and rose,
And pluck'd the nodding nurse by the nose.

6th Hag. I had a dagger: what did I with that? Kill'd an infant to have his fat.

I scratch'd out the eyes of the owl before,

I tore the bat's wing; what would you have more?

Yes, I have brought to help our vows
Horned poppy, cypress boughs,
The fig-tree wild that grows on tombs,
And juice that from the larch-tree comes,
The basilisk's blood and the viper's skin;
And now our orgies let us begin.

You fiends and fairies, if yet any be
Worse than ourselves, you that have quak'd to see

These knots untied (she unties them)-exhale earth's rottenest


And strike a blindness through these blazing tapers.

Charm. Deep, O deep we lay thee to sleep;

We leave thee drink by, if thou chance to be dry;

Both milk and blood, the dew and the flood;
We breathe in thy bed, at the foot and the head;
And when thou dost wake, Dame Earth shall quake
Such a birth to make, as is the Blue Drake.

Dame. Stay; all our charms do nothing win
Upon the night; our labor dies,
Our magic feature will not rise,
Nor yet the storm! We must repeat
More direful voices far, and beat
The ground with vipers, till it sweat.

Charm. Blacker go in, and blacker come out :
At thy going down, we give thee a shout;

At thy rising again thou shalt have two;
And if thou dost what we 'd have thee do,
Thou shalt have three, thou shalt have four,
Hoo! har! har! hoo!

A cloud of pitch, a spur and a switch,
To haste him away, and a whirlwind play,
Before and after, with thunder for laughter
And storms of joy, of the roaring boy,
His head of a drake, his tail of a snake.

(A loud and beautiful music is heard, and the Witches vanish.)

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Silenus bids his Satyrs awaken a couple of Sylvans, who have fallen asleep while they should have kept watch.

Buz, quoth the blue fly,

Hum, quoth the bee;
Buz and hum they cry,
And so do we.

In his eàr, in his nose,
Thùs, do you see?
Hè ate the dormouse;
Else it was hè.

"It is impossible that anything could better express than this, either the wild and practical joking of the satyrs, or the action of the thing described, or the quaintness and fitness of the images, or the melody and even the harmony, the intercourse, of the musical words, one with another. None but a boon companion with a very musical ear could have written it. It was not for nothing that Ben lived in the time of the fine old English composers, Bull and Ford, or partook his canary with his "lov'd Alphonso," as he calls him, the Signor Ferrabooco.-A Jar of Honey from Mount Hybla, in Ainsworth's Magazine, No. xxx., p. 86.






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POETRY of the highest order and of the loveliest character abounds in Beaumont and Fletcher, but so mixed up with inconsistent, and too often, alas! revolting matter, that, apart from passages which do not enter into the plan of this book, I had no alternative but either to confine the extracts to the small number which ensue, or to bring together a heap of the smallest quotations, two or three lines at a time. I thought to have got a good deal more out of the Faithful Shepherdess, which I had not read for many years; but on renewing my acquaintance with it, I found that the same unaccountable fascination with the evil times which had spoilt these two fine poets in their other plays, had followed its author, beyond what I had supposed, even into the regions of Arcadia.

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Mr. Hazlitt, who loved sometimes to relieve his mistrust by a fit of pastoral worship, pronounces the Faithful Shepherdess to be "a perpetual feast of nectar'd sweets, where no crude surfeit reigns. I wish I could think so. There are both hot and cold dishes in it, which I would quit at any time to go and dine with the honest lovers of Allan Ramsay, whose Gentle Shepherd, though of another and far inferior class of poetry, I take upon the whole to be the completest pastoral drama that ever was written.

It is a pity that Beaumont and Fletcher had not been born earlier, and in the neighborhood of Shakspeare, and become his playmates. The wholesome company of the juvenile yeoman (like a greater Sandford) might have rectified the refined spirits

of the young gentlemen, and saved their Hippocrene from becoming ditch-water. Even as it is, they seem different men when writing in their own persons, and following the taste of the town. Compare, for example, Beaumont's exquisite verses on Melancholy (here printed) with any one of their plays; or Fletcher's lines entitled An Honest Man's Fortune with the play of the same name, to which it is appended. The difference is so great, and indeed is discernible to such an equal degree in the poetry which startles you in the plays themselves (as if two different souls were writing one passage), that it appears unaccountable, except on some principle anterior to their town life, and to education itself. Little is known of either of their families, except that there were numerous poets in both; but Fletcher's father was that Dean of Peterborough (afterwards Bishop of London) who behaved with such unfeeling impertinence to the Queen of Scots in her last moments, and who is said (as became such a man) to have died of chagrin, because Elizabeth was angry at his marrying a second time. Was poetry such a drug" with "both their houses" that the friends lost their respect for it? or was Fletcher's mother some angel of a woman-some sequestered Miranda of the day-with whose spirit the "earth" of the Dean her husband but ill accorded?


Every devout lover of poetry must have experienced the wish of Coleridge, that Beaumont and Fletcher had written "poems instead of tragedies." Imagine as voluminous a set of the one as they have given us of the other! It would have been to sequestered real life what Spenser was to the land of Faery,—a retreat beyond all groves and gardens, a region of medicinal sweets of thought and feeling. Nor would plenty of fable have been wanting. What a loss! And this, their birthright with posterity-these extraordinary men sold for the mess of the loathsome pottage of the praise and profligacy of the court of James I.

But let us blush to find fault with them, even for such a descent from their height, while listening to their diviner moods.

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