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Being that I flow in grief, The smallest twine may lead me.

Much ado about Nothing Act iv. Scene 1.


Demetrius. Sorrow's heaviness doth heavier grow, For debt that bankrupt sleep doth sorrow owe.

Midsummer Night's Dream. Act iii. Scene 2.


I am not prone to weeping, as our sex
Commonly are: the want of which vain dew,
Perchance, shall dry your pities : but I have
That honourable grief lodg’d here, which burns
Worse than tears drown.

Winter's Tale. Act ii, Scene 1.


King John. Or if that surly spirit, melancholy, Had baked thy blood, and made it heavy, thick ; (Which else runs tickling up and down the veins

Making that idiot, laughter, keep men's eyes
And strain their cheeks to idle merriment.

King John. Act iii. Scene 3.


King Philip. You are as fond of grief, as of your child.

Constance. Grief fills the room up of my absent child, Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me, Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words, Remembers me of all his gracious parts, Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form ; Then have I reason to be fond of grief.

King John. Act iii. Scene 4.

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Grief boundeth where it falls, Not with the empty hollowness, but weight.

King Richard II. Act i. Scene 2.


Bushy. Each substance of a grief hath twenty shadows, Which show like grief itself, but are not so: For, sorrow's eye, glazed with blinding tears, Divides one thing entire to many objects; Like perspectives,* which, rightly gazed upon, Show nothing but confusion: ey'd awry, Distinguish form.

Ibid. Act ii. Scene 2.

* Alluding to a mathematical recreation common in the Poet's times, consisting of a picture in which the lines of perspective were so managed as to present confusiou to the spectator when viewed directly in front; but were rectified by being regarded obliquely.


King Richard, 'Tis very true, my grief lies all within ; And these external manners of lament Are merely shadows to the unseen grief, That swells with silence in the tortur'd soul : There lies the substance.

King Richard II. Act iv. Scene 1.


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Woe doth the heavier sit Where it perceives it is but faintly borne.

Gnarling sorrow hath less power to bite The man that mocks at it, and sets it light,

Ibid, Act I, Scene 3.

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Wise men ne'er wail their present woes, But presently prevent the ways to wail. To fear the foe, since fear oppresseth strength, Gives, in your weakness, strength unto your foe; And so your follies fight against yourself.

Ibid. Act iii, Scene 2.

Pucelle. Care is no cure, but rather corrosive, For things that are not to be remedied.

1st part King Hen. VI. Act iii. Scene 3.


York. Would'st have me weep ? why, now thou hast thy

will :

For raging wind blows up incessant showers.
And when the rage allays, the rain begins.

3rd part King Henry VI. Act i. Scene 4.


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Richard. I cannot weep; for all my body's moisture Scarce serves to quench my furnace-burning heart: Nor can my tongue unload my heart's great burden; For self-same wind, that I should speak withal, Is kindling coals, that fire all my breast, And burn me up with flames, that tears would quench. To weep is to make less the depth of grief.

3rd part King Henry VI. Act ii. Scene 1.

Brakenbury. Sorrow breaks seasons, and reposing hours, Makes the night morning, and the noon-tide night.

King Richard III. Act i. Scene 4.

Gloster. Sister have comfort: all of us have cause
To wail the dimming of our shining star ;
But none can cure their harms by wailing them,

Ibid. Act ii. Scene 2.

Belarius. Great griefs, I see, medicine the less.

Cymbeline. Act iv. Scene 2.

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King Lear.

Where the greater malady is fix'd The lesser is scarce felt.

King Lear. Act iii. Scene 4.


Edgar. When we our betters see bearing our woes,
We scarcely think our miseries our foes.
Who alone suffers, suffers most i’ the mind;
Leaving free things, and happy shows, behind :
But then the mind much sufferance doth o'erskip,
When grief hath mates, and bearing fellowship.

Ibid. Act iii. Scene 6.



The preceding extracts, shewing us the Poet's intimate acquaintance with sorrow in all its forms, are full of truth and beauty: to comprehend the exquisite propriety of some of the passages, it is necessary that the reader should understand that the word “grief,” in Shakspere's time, was used to express bodily as well as mental pain. Thus, where he says,“ great griefs, I see, medicine the less,” the word has a double truth contained in it.

It is a well known, but not the less remarkable fact, that a smaller bodily pain (though considered at the time sufficiently disagreeable) is entirely forgotten, when one more severe supervenes. For instance, a person may be agonized with toothache: amputate that person's leg, and the toothache is forgotten. Shakspere well knew, that in this respect, as it is with the body, so is it with the mind.

I have elsewhere observed, that a cheerful disposition is sometimes attributed to bodily constitution. The same remark applies to grief and melancholy. The doctrine of Temperaments, propounded by some philosophers, gives the idea some countenance. The Temperaments relate principally to the humours of the body, and consist of four, viz., the sanguine, nervous, bilious, and lymphatic ; each having a tendency to give a peculiar character to the mind. I cannot but think that Shakspere had such a doctrine in his thoughts when he wrote the passage before quoted:

“As if that surly spirit, melancholy,
Had baked thy blood, and made it heavy, thick ;
(Which else runs tickling up and down the veins
Making that idiot, laughter, keep men's eyes
And strain their cheeks to idle merriment."

Whether this philosophy be sound or not, let no one “lay the flattering unction to his soul,” that it is therefore allowable to let nature have its full swing: as we have before seen there is such a thing as “second nature ;' and where the constitution would appear to dispose us natur

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