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And they did make no noise,—in such a night
Troilus, methinks, mounted the Trojan walls,
And sighed his soul towards the Grecian tents,8
Where Cressid lay that night.

In such a night
Did Thisbe fearfully o'ertrip the dew;
And saw the lion's shadow ere himself,9
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 herbs11
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 Stephano, 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 colts,

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 patterus.

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.


[Music ceases.

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,
And 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.
"And saw the lion's shadow."-Thisbe in Chaucer does not see

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the shadow before she sees the beast (a fine idea!); nor does she in Ovid. In both poets it is a lioness seen by moonlight.

"With bloody mouth, of strangling of a beast."
Cæde leæna boum spumantes oblita rictus.
Metam., lib. iv., v. 97.

10 "Stood Dido with a willow in her hand."-The willow, a symbol of being forsaken, is not in Chaucer. It looks as if Shakspeare had seen it in a picture, where it would be more necessary than in a poem.

11" Medea gather'd the enchanted herbs.”—Shakspeare has here gone from Chaucer to Gower. Warton, in his Observations on the Faerie Queene, vol. i., p. 361, edit. 1807, has noticed a passage in Gower's story, full of imagination. The poet is speaking of Medea going out upon the business noticed by Shakspeare.

Thus it fell upon a night,

When there was naught but starrie light,

She was vanish'd right as she list,

That no wight but herself wist,
And that was at midnight tide.
The world was still on every side.
With open head and foot all bare ;
Her hair too spread, she 'gan to fare;
Upon her clothés girt she was,
And speecheless, upon the grass,
She glode* forth, as an adder doth.

12 "There's not the smallest orb."--The "warbler of wood-notes wild" has here manifestly joined with Plato and other learned spirits to suggest to Milton his own account of the Music of the Spheres, which every reader of taste, I think, must agree with Mr. Knight in thinking "less perfect in sentiment and harmony."-Pictorial Shakspeare, vol. ii., p. 448. The best thing in it is what is observed by Warton: that the listening to the spheres is the recreation of the Genius of the Wood (the speaker) after his day's duty, "when the world is locked up in sleep and silence."

* Glode, is glided. If Chaucer's contemporary had written often thus, his name would have been as famous.

Then listen I

To the celestial Sirens' harmony,
That sit upon the nine infolded spheres,
And sing to those that hold the vital shears,
And turn the adamantine spindle round,
On which the fate of gods and men is wound.
Such sweet compulsion doth in music lie
To lull the daughters of Necessity,

And keep unsteady Nature in her law,
And the low world in measur'd motion draw
After the heavenly tune, which none can hear
Of human mould, with gross unpurged ear.

Arcades, v. 62.

The best account I remember to have read of the Music of the Spheres is in the History of Music by Hawkins.

13" Dear lady, welcome home."-Never was a sweeter or more fitting and bridal elegance, than in the whole of this scene, in which gladness and seriousness prettily struggle, each alternately yielding predominance to the other. The lovers are at once in heaven and earth. The new bride is "drawn home" with the soul of love in the shape of music; and to keep her giddy spirits down, she preached that little womanly sermon upon a good deed shining in a “naughty world." The whole play is, in one sense of the word, the most picturesque in feeling of all Shakspeare's. The sharp and malignant beard of the Jew (himself not unreconciled to us by the affections) comes harmlessly against the soft cheek of love.


Ant. Eros, thou yet behold'st me?

Eros. Ay, noble lord.

Ant. Sometime we see a cloud that's dragonish :

A vapor sometime; like a bear, or lion,

A tower'd citadel, a pendant rock,

A forked mountain, or blue promontory

With trees upon't that nod unto the world,

And mock our eyes with air; thou hast seen these signs;
They are black Vesper's pageants.

Eros. Ay, my lord.

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