網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

EXTRACTS FROM VARIOUS PLAYS.

3

WOLSEY'S FALL.
FAREWELL, a long farewell, to all my greatness !
This is the state of man: To-day he puts forth
The tender leaves of hope, to-morrow blossoms,
And bears his blushing honours thick upon him;
The third day comes a frost, a killing frost,
And—when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
His greatness is a-ripening-nips his root,
And then he falls—as I do. I have ventured,
Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders,
This many summers in a sea of glory;
But far beyond my depth : my high-blowno pride
At length broke under me; and now has left me,
Weary, and old with service, to the mercy
Of a rude stream, that must for ever hide me.
Vain

pomp and glory of this world, I hate ye !
I feel my heart new opened. Oh, how wretched
Is that poor man that hangs on princes' favours !
There is, betwixt that smile we would aspire to,
That sweet aspect of princes, and their ruin,
More pangs

and fears than wars or women have;
And, when he falls, he falls like Lucifer,
Never to hope again.
Cromwell, I did not think to shed a tear
In all my miseries; but thou hast forced me,
Out of thy honest truth, to play the woman.
Let's dry our eyes; and thus far hear me, Cromwell:
And when I am forgotten, as I shall be,
And sleep in dull cold marble, where no mention
Of me more must be heard of—say, I taught thee;
Say, Wolsey--that once trod the ways of glory,
And sounded all the depths and shoals of honour-

(1) “Henry VIII.,” Act iii., scene 2. Wolsey is here addressing Cromwell, Earl of Essex.

(2) High-blown-puffed up and swollen like a bladder.

(3) Rude stream-i. e. that which was a sea of glory has suddenly become a boisterous and hostile ocean of billows-that which before held me up buoyantly floating on its surface, now overwhelms and hides me. (4) New opened--i.e. now I see things as they are.

T

[ocr errors]

1

Found thee a way, out of his wreck, to rise in;
A sure and safe one, though thy master missed it.
Mark but my fall, and that that ruined me.
Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away ambition;
By that sin fell the angels; how can man, then,
The image of his Maker, hope to win by't ?
Love thyself last; cherish those hearts that hate thee;
Corruption wins not more than honesty."
Still in thy right hand carry gentle peace,
To silence envious tongues. Be just, and fear not ;
Let all the ends thou aim’st at be thy country's,
Thy God's, and truth's; then, if thou fall’st, Cromwell,
Thou fall’st a blessed martyr! Serve the king,
And-pr’ythee, lead me in:
There, take an inventory of all I have,
To the last penny; 'tis the king's: my robe,
And my integrity to Heaven, is all
I dare now call my own. O Cromwell, Cromwell,
Had I but served my God with half the zeal
I served my king, He would not in mine age
Have left me naked to mine enemies !

WOLSEY'S DEATH."

At last, with easy roads, he came to Leicester,
Lodged in the abbey; where the reverend abbot,
With all his convent, honourably received him;
To whom he gave these words : “O FATHER ABBOT,
AN OLD MAN BROKEN WITH THE STORMS OF STATE,
IS COME TO LAY HIS WEARY BONES AMONG YE;
GIVE HIM A LITTLE EARTH FOR CHARITY!”
So went to bed: where eagerly his sickness
Pursued him still; and, three nights after this,
About the hour of eight (which he himself
Foretold should be his last) full of repentance,
Continual meditations, tears, and sorrows,
He gave his honours to the world again,
His blessed part to Heaven, and slept in peace.

(1) Fonesty-from the Latin honestas, honour, virtue-uprightness, integrity.
(2) “Henry VIII.," Act iv., scene 2.
(3) Roads—as we now say, journeys.

2

WOLSEY'S CHARACTER.

The dark side.

He was a man
Of an unbounded stomach, ever ranking
Himself with princes; one that by suggestion 3
Tied all the kingdom: simony4 was fair play;
His own opinion was his law : i' th' presence
He would say untruths; and be ever double,
Both in his words and meaning. He was never,
But where he meant to ruin, pitiful:
His promises were, as he then was, mighty;
But his performance, as he is now, nothing.
Of his own body he was ill, and gave
The clergy ill example.

;

The bright side.

This Cardinal,
Though from an humble stock, undoubtedly
Was fashioned to much honour from his cradle.
He was a scholar, and a ripe and good one;
Exceeding wise, fair spoken, and persuading;
Lofty and sour to them that loved him not,
But, to those men that sought him, sweet as summer.
And though he were unsatisfied in getting,
(Which was a sin,) yet in bestowing, madam,
He was most princely: ever witness for him
Those twins of learning that he raised in you,
Ipswich and Oxford !6 one of which fell with him,
Unwilling to out-live the good that did? it;
The other, though unfinished, yet so famous,

(1) “Henry VIII.,” Act iv., scene 2. Queen Katharine describes the evil, and Griffith, her gentleman-usher, the good, of Wolsey's character.

(2) Stomachin the old sense-arrogance, haughtiness.

(3) By suggestion, &c.—By secret influence ruled all the kingdom. Some take tied to mean tithed.

(4) Simony—the buying or selling of church preferment; so called from Simon Magus. See Acts viii. 20.

(5) l'th' presence—from the Latin in præsentia, at the present time-to suit his immediate purpose ; or perhaps it means, in the king's presence.

(6) Ipswich and Oxford-Wolsey founded a college, which had a very brief existence, in his native town of Ipswich, as well as the noble college of Cardinal's, now called Christ Church, Oxford. (7) That did it--that made or founded it.

So excellent in art, and still so rising,
That Christendom shall ever speak his virtue.
His overthrow heaped happiness upon him;
For then, and not till then, he felt himself,
And found the blessedness of being, little ;
And, to add greater honours to his

age
Than man could give him, he died fearing God.

BEES.

4

So work the honey bees;
Creatures that, by a rule in nature, teach
The act of order to a peopled kingdom.
They have a king, and officers of sorts ;
Where some, like magistrates, correct at home;
Others, like merchants, venture trade abroad;
Others, like soldiers, arméd in their stings,
Make boot upon the summer's velvet buds;
Which pillage they with merry march bring home,
To the tent-royal of their emperor ;
Who, busied in his majesty, surveys
The singing masons building roofs of gold;
The civil citizens kneading up the honey;
The poor mechanic porters crowding in
Their heavy burdens at his narrow gate;
The sad-eyed justice, with his surly hum,
Delivering o'er to executors pale
The lazy yawning drone.

LIFE AND DEATH.5
To be, or not to be, that is the question :--
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind, to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, (1) He felt himself-i. e. he felt himself little, and found the blessedness of being so.

(2) “Henry V.," Act i., scene 2. (3) King-king seems here used in the general sense of sovereign-the reference is of course to the queen bee.

(4) Make boot upon-despoil, feed on. (5) “Hamlet,” Act iii., scene 1.

(6) Sea of troubles--Pope proposed to alter this into "a siege of troubles,” upon which Mr. Knight, in his pictorial edition, remarks, “Surely the metaphor of the sea, to denote an overwhelming flood of troubles, is highly beautiful.” This is unquestionable. The difficulty however lies in the expression “ to take arms against a sea,” which, strictly speaking, presents an incongruous image. If we consider the words “a sea ”as unemphatic, and merely used for“ a host" or great number, the whole will be harmonised.

6

[ocr errors]

And, by opposing, end them ? To die-to sleep-
No more; and, by a sleep, to say we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to !-'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished.

To die-to sleep-
To sleep!-perchance to dream !-ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause :-there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life:
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin ?4 Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death, -
The undiscovered country from

whose bourn
No traveller returns-puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of ?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought;
And enterprises of great pith and moment,
With this regard, their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.

(1) No more_i.e. to die is no more than to sleep; this was Hamlet's first notion, which he afterwards corrects.

(2) Coil-rope wound into a ring, hence, perhaps, from the noise made in coiling a rope_stir, murmur, tumult.“ To shuffle off this mortal coil” is to get free from the entanglements and perplexities of life, or, in a secondary sense, from its busy stir.

(3) Quietus--a law term-final discharge, complete acquittance.
(4) Bodkina small sword.
(5) Fardels from the French fardeau, a parcel--burdens.
(6) Grunt-lament loudly. This, and not groan, is the true reading.

(7) With this regardi.e. from this view of the object-in consequence of the check which conscience gives.

« 上一頁繼續 »