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And earthly power doth then show likest God's,
Should see salvation: we do
pray for mercy; And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.
Merchant of Venice. Act iv. Scene 1,
Say. Ah, countrymen! if when you make your prayers, God should be so obdurate as yourselves,
How would it fare with your departed souls?
And therefore yet relent, and save my life.
2nd part King Henry VI. Act iv. Scene 7.
Chamberlain. Press not a falling man too far: 'tis virtue: His faults lie open to the laws;
Not you, correct him.
King Henry VIII. Act iii. Scene 2.
Men so noble,
However faulty, yet should find respect
Ibid Act v. Scene 2.
SOME people who have forgotten all about the Holy Scriptures, and coined a religion for themselves, consisting of human dogmas, have had the audacity to state there is a want of Christianity in the pages of Shakspere. If their understanding be not darkened, let them read these extracts on mercy and be convinced.
OFTEN NEGLECTED BY THE WORLD.
Prince of Arragon.
To wear an undeserved dignity.
Let none presume
Oh, that estates, degrees, and offices,
Were not derived corruptly! And that clear honour
How many then should cover, that stand bare!
How many be commanded, that command!
How much low peasantry would then be gleaned
From the true seed of honour! And how much honour Pick'd from the chaff and ruin of the times,
To be new varnish'd!
Merchant of Venice. Act ii. Scene 9.
MERIT AND VIRTUE INTRINSIC.
What is aught, but as 'tis valued?
Hector. But value dwells not in particular will:
It holds its estimate and dignity
As well wherein 'tis precious in itself
As in the prizer; 'tis mad idolatry
To make the service greater than the god;
Without some image of the affected merit.
Troilus and Cressida. Act ii. Scene 2.
IN MEDIO TUTISSIMUS IBIS.
For aught I see, they are as sick, that surfeit with too much, as they that starve with nothing: it is no mean happiness, therefore, to be seated in the mean; superfluity comes sooner by white hairs, but competency lives longer.
Merchant of Venice. Act i. Scene 2.
Don Pedro. It is the witness still of excellency, To put a strange face on his own perfection.
Much ado about Nothing Act ii. Scene 3.
It cannot be otherwise than that humility should accompany true greatness. The more we know, the clearer we see the extent of our ignorance: and the better we become, the more we are aware of our distance from perfection.
If we meet with a vain man, of a character in other respects ever so exalted, we may be certain that there is a nook of littleness in his mind, though we may be unable to see into it.
Ford. If money go before, all ways
do lie open.
Merry Wives of Windsor. Act ii. Scene 2.
Anne Page. Oh, what a world of vile ill-favoured faults Looks handsome in three hundred pounds a year! *
Ibid. Act iii. Scene 4.
Clown. He seems to be of great authority: close with him; give him gold; and though authority be a stubborn bear, he is oft led by the nose with gold.
Winter's Tale. Activ. Scene 3.
That same purpose
changer, that sly devil;
That broker that still breaks the pate of faith:
*The reader, in judging strictly of Anne Page's estimation of character, must recollect the great difference in the value of money in those times. Had she lived now she would, like many a modern young lady, have said one thousand pounds a year,