« PreviousContinue »
Fie; what a trouble 'tis to count this trash!
Well fare the Arabians, who so richly pay
The things they traffic for with wedge of gold,
Whereof a man may easily in a day
Tell that which may maintain him all his life
The needy groom, that never finger'd groat,
Would make a miracle of thus much coin ;
But he whose steel-barr'd coffers are cramm'd full,
And all his life-time had been tired (read ti-er-ed),
Wearying his fingers' ends with telling it,
Would in his age be loth to labor so,
And for a pound to sweat himself to death.
Give me the merchants of the Indian mines,
That trade in metal of the purest mould;
The wealthy Moor, that in the eastern rocks
Without control can pick his riches up,
And in his house heap pearl like pebble-stones ;
Receive them free, and sell them by the weight;
Bags of fiery opals, sapphires, amethysts,
Jacinths, hard topaz, grass-green emeralds,
Beauteous rubies, sparkling diamonds,
And seld-seen costly stones of so great price,
As one of them indifferently rated,
And of a carat of this quantity,
May serve, in peril of calamity,
To ransom great kings from captivity :
This is the ware wherein consists my wealth ;
And thus, methinks, should men of judgment frame
Their means of traffic from the vulgar trade,
And as their wealth increaseth, so inclose
Infinite riches in a little room.
But now how stands the wind ?
Into what corner peers my halcyon's bill ?*
Ha! to the East? yes ; see how stand the vanes ?
East and by south. Why then, I hope my ships
I sent for Egypt and the bordering isles
Are gotten up by Nilus' winding banks;
Mine argosies from Alexandria,?
Loaden with spice and silks, now under sail,
Are smoothly gliding down by Candy shore
To Malta, through our Mediterranean Sea.
I“ Samnites” and “ men of Uz,” and “ Spanish oils ”—That is to say, countrymen and contemporaries of old Rome, of Arabian
* “ My halcyon's bill.”—The halcyon is the figure on the vane.
Job, and the modern Spanish merchants ! Marlowe, though he was a scholar, cared no more for geography and consistent history than Shakspeare. He took the world as he found it at the theatre, where it was a mixture of golden age innocence, tragical enormity, and a knowledge superior to all petty and transi. tory facts.
2 « Mine argosies from Alexandria,” &c.—Note the wonderful sweetness of these four lines, particularly the last. The variety of the vowels, the delicate alliteration, and the lapse of the two concluding verses, are equal, as a study, to anything in Spenser.
She passes between two Cupids, having been summoned from the next
world by desire of Faustus.
Faust. Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships,
And burnt the topmost towers of Ilium ?
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss.-
Her lips suck forth my soul ! see where it flies.
Come, Helen, come, give me my soul again.
Here will I dwell, for heav'n is in these lips,
And all is dross that is not Helena.
I will be Paris; and for love of thee,
Instead of Troy, shall Wittenberg be sack'd;
And I will combat with weak Menelaus,
And wear my colors on my plumèd crest;
Yea, I will wound Achilles in the heel,
And then return to Helen for a kiss.
Oh, thou art fairer than the evening air,
Clad in the beauty of a thousand stars ;
Brighter art thou than flaming Jupiter,8
When he appear'd to hapless Semele;
More lovely than the monarch of the sea,
In wanton Arethusa's azure arms;
And none but thou shalt be my paramour !
3 « Brighter art thou,” &c.—Much cannot be said of the five lines here ensuing ; but their retention was necessary to the entire feeling or classical association of the speech, if not to a certain lingering modulation.
MYTHOLOGY AND COURT AMUSEMENTS.
Gaveston meditates how to govern Edward the Second
I must have wanton poets, pleasant wits,
Musicians, that with touching of a string
May draw the pliant king which way I please.
Music and poetry are his delight:
Therefore I'll have Italian masks by night;
Sweet speeches, comedies, and pleasing shows;
And in the day, when he shall walk abroad,
Like sylvan nymphs my pages shall be clad :
My men, like satyrs grazing on the lawns,
Shall with their goat-feet dance the antic hay.
Sometimes a lovely boy in Dian's shape,
With hair that gilds the water as it glides,
Shall bathe him in a spring; and there, hard by,
One, like Actæon, peeping through the grove,
Shall by the angry goddess be transform’d;
And running in the likeness of a hart,
By yelping hounds pull'd down, shall seem to die-
Such things as these best please his Majesty.
BEAUTY BEYOND EXPRESSION.
If all the pens that ever poet held
Had fed the feeling of their master's thoughts,
And ev'ry sweetness that inspired their hearts,
And minds, and muses on admirèd themes ;
If all the heavenly quintessence they still
From their immortal flowers of poesy,
Wherein, as in a mirror, we perceive
The highest reaches of a human wit;
If these had made one poem's period,
And all combin'd in beauty's worthiness.
Yet should there hover in their restless heads,
One thought, one grace, one wonder, at the best,
Which into words no virtue can digest.
THE PASSIONATE SHEPHERD TO HIS LOVE.
Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove,
That hill and valley, grove and field,
And all the craggy mountains yield
There will we sit upon the rocks,
And see the shepherds feed their flocks
By shallow rivers, to whose falls
Melodious virds sing madrigals,
There will I make thee beds of roses,
With a thousand fragrant posies;
A cap of flowers and a kirtle
Embroider'd all with leaves of myrtle ;
A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Slippers lin'd choicely for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;
A belt of straw, and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs.
The shepherd swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning;
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Then live with me and be my love.
This song is introduced, not so much for its poetical excel. lence (though it is quite what a poet would write on the occasion) as because it is one of those happy embodiments of a thought which all the world thinks at some time or other; and which therefore takes wonderfully with them when somebody utters it. The “golden buckles” and “amber studs” are not to be considered as a contradiction to the rest of the imagery ; for we are to suppose it a gentlewoman to whom the invitation is addressed, and with whom her bridegroom proposes to go and play at shepherd and shepherdess, at once realizing the sweets of lowliness and the advantages of wealth. A charming fancy! and realized too sometimes; though Sir Walter Raleigh could not let it alone, but must needs refute it in some excellent
verses, too good for the occasion. Sir Walter, a great but wil. ful man (in some respects like Marlowe himself, and a true poet too—I wish he had written more poetry), could pass and ultimately lose his life in search of El Dorados,—whole countries made of gold,—but doubted whether an innocent young lady and gentleman, or so, should aim at establishing a bit of Arcadia.
There are so many copies of this once-popular production, all different and none quite consistent, owing, no doubt, to oral repetitions and the license of musical setting (for no copy of it is to be found coeval with its production), that, after studious comparison of several, I have exercised a certain discretion in the one here printed, and omitted also an ill-managed repetition of the burthen:not, of course, with the addition of a syllable. Such readers, therefore, as it may concern, are warned not to take the present copy for granted, at the expense of the others; but to compare them all, and make his choice.