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A crucifix let bless your neck.
'T is now full tide 'tween night and day;
End your groan, and come away."
The Duchess now addresses her maid, Cariola, —
I pray thee look thon giv'st my little boy
Bosola. — Strulling. Here are your executioners.
Ditch. I forgive them.
Bos. Doth not death fright you?
Duch. Who would be afraid on 't, Knowing to meet such excellent company In tV other world?
Bos. Yet methinks the manner of your death should much afflict you.
This cord should terrify you.
Duch. Not a whit.
What would it pleasure me to have my throat cut
That I perceive death — now I am well awake —
Serve for mandragora to make me sleep.
Her brother, Ferdinand, to whom she has given mortal offence by indulging in a generous but infatuated passion for her steward, and at whose instance she is strangled, now enters.
Ferd. Is she dead 1
Bos. She is what yon would have her. Fix your eye here.
Bat. Do you not weep?
Ferd. Cover her face: mine eyes dazzle: she died young.
Bos. I think not so; her infelicity
Ferd. She and I were twins:
James Shirley, born in 1594, and dying in 1666, was a voluminous writer, thirty-nine plays proceeding from his prolific pen. As a dramatist, he lacks originality, force, and pathos; but his mind was poetical, and his style and language polished and refined. He is much commended for "the airy touches of his expression, the delicacy of his sentiments, and the beauty of his similes." He is best kept in repute by that fine production, "Death's Final Conquest," which occurs in his play entitled "The Contention of Ajax and Ulysses." These verses were greatly admired by Charles II.: —
"The glories of our birth and state
Are shadows, not substantial things;
Sceptre and crown
With the poor crooked scythe and spade.
"Some men with swords may reap the field,
And must give up their murmuring breath,
"The garlands wither on your brow,
Then boast no more your mighty deeds;
To the cold tomb; *
Only the actions of the just
Shirley is last on the list of this race of dramatists. Taking them all in all (without even including Shakespeare),
"We ne'er shall see their like again."
Had Shakespeare never existed (imagination shudders at such a possibility) we might still exhibit the roll of our elder dramatists with some pride.
With Shirley the production of the Elizabethan drama and the popularity of the stage came to an end.
By an act of the Long Parliament, passed on the 2d of September, 1642, theatrical entertainments were permanently suppressed.
Theatres were demolished by the city authorities, and
convicted players were openly whipped; yet these severe
measures did not entirely suppress stage plays. In the country strolling players still continued to set the law at defiance, and in London the players still kept together, and by connivance of the commanding official at Whitehall sometimes represented privately a few plays at a short distance from town. In the mean time, the players, thus cut off from their regular gains, resorted to the sale of their dramatic productions to the booksellers, which in the craving of the public for their customary enjoyment were eagerly sought for. Heretofore the most favorite acting plays had been carefully withheld from the press by the theatrical companies whose property they were; and the only way in which a reading of them could be obtained was by paying a considerable sum for the loan of the manuscript or a transcript of it.
In a preface to the plays of Beaumont and Fletcher, published in 1647, the reader is thus exhorted: "Congratulate thy own happiness that in the silence of the stage thou hast a liberty to read these inimitable plays, to dwell and converse in these immortal groves which were only showed to our fathers as in a conjuriug-glass, as suddenly removed as represented."
DOUBT and fable, it has been well observed, surround the few incidents in Shakespeare's life; and in our loving reverence for this great soul we are not unwilling that it should be so, for as Emerson happily expresses it, " we are not the friends of his buttons, but of his thought, and are willing that he should be a stranger in a thousand particulars that he may come nearer in the holiest ground, poetic, pure, and universal."
We know that he was born at Stratford-on-Avon in April, 1564, and tradition dates his birth on the 23d of the month, the anniversary of St. George, the tutelar saint of England. His father, John Shakespeare, was a woolcomber, and his mother, Mary Arden, a rustic heiress. Though John Shakespeare by this marriage must have elevated his social position, as he afterward rose to be high bailiff of Stratford, he is found in 1578 mortgaging his wife's inheritance, and from entries in the town books is supposed to have fallen into comparative poverty.
William, being the eldest of six surviving children, was after some education at the grammar school brought home to assist at his father's business. How much education Shakespeare received at this school is not known. His friend, Ben Jonson, allows him "little Latin and less Greek." Yet it must be remembered that with more than ordinary attainments Shakespeare would have been un