Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Life of Shakespeare
 Chronological order of Shakspeare’s...
 Romeo and Juliet
 King Lear
 Timon of Athens
 The merchant of Venice
 The comedy of errors
 Hamlet, prince of Denmark
 The tempest
 Back Cover

Group Title: Tales from Shakspeare : designed for the use of young people
Title: Tales from Shakspeare
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00055052/00001
 Material Information
Title: Tales from Shakspeare designed for the use of young people
Alternate Title: Tales from Shakespeare
Physical Description: 2 v. : ill. (some col.) ; 19 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Lamb, Charles, 1775-1834
Lamb, Mary, 1764-1847 ( Author )
Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
Gilbert, John, 1817-1897 ( Illustrator )
George Routledge and Sons ( Publisher )
Richard Clay and Sons ( Printer )
Publisher: George Routledge and Sons
Place of Publication: London ;
New York
Manufacturer: Richard Clay & Sons
Publication Date: [1887?]
Subject: Children's stories   ( lcsh )
Children -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Children's stories -- 1887   ( lcsh )
Prize books (Provenance) -- 1887   ( rbprov )
Bldn -- 1887
Genre: Children's stories   ( lcsh )
Prize books (Provenance)   ( rbprov )
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
United States -- New York -- New York
England -- Suffolk -- Bungay
Statement of Responsibility: by Charles Lamb ; with illustrations by Sir John Gilbert.
General Note: Date of publication from prize inscription.
Funding: Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00055052
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002232685
notis - ALH3081
oclc - 68181721

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Cover 1
        Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Page i
        Page ii
    Title Page
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
    Table of Contents
        Page vii
    Life of Shakespeare
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
    Chronological order of Shakspeare’s dramas
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
    Romeo and Juliet
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
    King Lear
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
    Timon of Athens
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
    The merchant of Venice
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
    The comedy of errors
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
    Hamlet, prince of Denmark
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
    The tempest
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
    Back Cover
        Cover 1
        Cover 2
Full Text



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THE following Tales are meant to be submitted to the young
reader as an introduction to the study of Shakspeare, for which
purpose his words are used whenever it seemed possible to bring
them in ; and in whatever has been added to give them the regular
form of a connected story, diligent care has been taken to select
such words as might least interrupt the effect of the beautiful
English tongue in which he wrote : therefore words introduced
into our language since his time have been as far as possible
In those Tales which have been taken from the Tragedies, as my
young readers will perceive when they come to see the source from
which these stories are derived, Shakspeare's own words, with little
alteration, recur very frequently in the narrative as well as in the
dialogue; but in those made from the Comedies I found myself
scarcely ever able to turn his words into the narrative form: there-
to.,e I fear in them I have made use of dialogue too frequently for
young people not used to the dramatic form of writing. But this
ifa ilt, if it be as I fear a fault, has been caused by my earnest wish
'ro give as much of Shakspeare's own words as possible : and if the
"'e said," and "She said," the question and the reply,. should
sometimes seem tedious to their young ears, they must pardon it,
because it was the only way I knew of, in which I could give them a
few hints and little foretastes of the great pleasure which awaits
them in their elder years, when they come to the rich treasures from
which these small and valueless coins are extracted; pretending to
no other merit than as faint and imperfect stamps of Shakspeare's
matchless image. Faint and imperfect images they must be called,
because the beauty of his language is too frequently destroyed by
the necessity of changing many of his excellent words into words far
less expressive of his true sense, to make it read something like
prose; and even in some places, where his blank verse is given
unaltered, as hoping from its simple plainness to cheat the young
readers into the belief that they are reading prose, yet still his

vi Preface.

language being transplanted from its own natural soil and wild
poetic garden, it must want much of its native beauty.
I have wished to make these Tales easy reading for very young
children. To the utmost of my ability 1 have constantly kept this
in my mind ; but the subjects of most of them made this a very
difficult task. It was no easy matter to give the histories of men
and women in terms familiar to the apprehension of a very young
mind. For young ladies too it has been my intention chiefly to
write, because boys are generally permitted the use of their father's
libraries at a much earlier age than girls are ; they frequently have
the best scenes of Shakspeare by heart, before their sisters are per-
mitted to look into this manly book; and, therefore, instead of
recommending these Tales to the perusal of young gentlemen who
can read them so much better in the originals, I must rather beg
their kind assistance in explaining to their sisters such parts as are
hardest for them to understand ; and when they have helped them
to get over the difficulties, then perhaps they will read to them
(carefully selecting what is proper for a young sister's ear) some
passage which has pleased them in one of these stories, in the very
words of the scene from which it is taken; and I trust they will find
that the beautiful extracts, the select passages, they may choose to
give their sisters in this way, will be much better relished and
understood from their having some notion of the general story from
one of these imperfect abridgments ; which if they be fortunately
so done as to prove delightful to any of you, my young readers, I
hope will have no worse effect upon you, than to make you wish
yourselves a little older, that you may be allowed to read the plays
at full length (such a wish will be neither peevish nor irrational).
When time and leave of judicious friends shall put them into your
hands, you will discover in such of them as are here abridged (not
to mention almost as many more which are left untouched) many
surprising events and turns of fortune, which for their infinite variety
could not be contained in this little book, besides a world of sprightly
and cheerful characters, both men and women, the humour of which -
I was fearful of losing if I attempted to reduce the length of them.
What these tales have been to you in childhood, that and much
more it is my wish that the true plays of Shakspeare may prove to
you in older years-enrichers of the fancy, strengtheners of virtue,
a withdrawing from all selfish and mercenary thoughts, a lesson of
all sweet and honourable thoughts and actions, to teach you courtesy,
benignity, generosity, humanity: for of examples, teaching these
virtues, his pages are full.


LIFE OF SHARSPEARE ... ... ... ... ... 1


ROMEO AND JULIET ... ... ... ... ... 23

KING LEAR ... ... ... ... ... ... 40

OTHELLO .. ... ... ... ... 56

TIMON OF ATHENS ... ... ... ... ... 70

MACBETH ... ... ... .. ..... 84

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE ... ... ... ... 96

THE COMEDY OF ERRORS ... ... ... ... 110


THE TEMPEST ... ... ... ... ... 141


AFTER all the laborious research which has been expended
on the subject of Shakspeare's biography, few particulars are
known on those points which would be most gratifying to
the curiosity of his rational admirers. We may trace his
ancestors to the doomsday book, and his posterity till they
dwindle into tongueless obscurity; but of his own habits and
domestic character we know comparatively nothing. During
his early days, his path of life was so humble, that all our
inquiries necessarily terminate in disappointment; and of
the more busy period of his existence, when he wrote for the
stage, and was the public favourite, his remarkable humility
of mind and manners induced him to avoid the eye of
notoriety; and, unfortunately, there was no Boswell or Med-
win to make memoranda of his conversations, or transmit
to our times a fac-simile of the great dramatist in the familiar
moments of relaxation and friendly intercourse. Such hia-
tuses in the life of Shakspeare cannot be now supplied; now
about two hundred years have elapsed since his mortal re-
mains were left to moulder beneath a tomb, over which Time
has shaken the dust of his wings too often to allow of our
recovering details, local and fugitive, however interesting.
Rowe was the first, whose researches elicited anything like
a satisfactory memoir of our great bard. Poets and critics
have laboriously retrodden his steps; the genius of Pope
and the acumen of Johnson have been employed on the same
subject, but the sun of their adoration had gone down before
their intellectual telescopes were levelled to discover its

2 Zife of Shakspeare.

perfections. Malone has done the most, and appears indeed
to have exhausted the subject; but, from inadvertency or
carelessness, he has overlooked many particulars which
deserve preservation.' Having turned over a variety of
books, and consulted every accessible authority, we shall
attempt to condense, under one head, such recollections of
Shakspeare as are at present scattered over many volumes,
as well as the more obvious and familiar portions of his
It appears a family, designated indifferently Shaxper,
Shakespeare, Shakspere, and Shakspeare, were well known in
Warwickshire during the sixteenth century. Rowe says:
"It seems by the register and other public writings of Strat-
ford, that the poet's family were of good figure and fashion
there, and are mentioned as gentlemen."
This account turns out to be very incorrect; for on refer-
ence to the authorities cited, we find that the Shakspeares,
though their property was respectable, never rose above the
rank of tradesmen or husbandmen. Nothing is known of the
immediate ancestors of John Shakspeare, the poet's father,
who was originally a glover, afterwards a butcher, and in the
last place, a wool-stapler, in the town of Stratford. Being
very industrious, his wealth gave him importance among his
neighbours, and having served various offices in the borough
with credit, he ultimately obtained its supreme municipal
honours, being elected high-bailiff, at Michaelmas, 1568.
His town folks no doubt considered this the summit of
earthly felicity; but however reverend the corporation of
Stratford in its own estimation, we cannot but smile at these
erudite sages, out of nineteen of whom, as we find from their
signatures, attached to a public document, 1564, only seven
were able to write their names. While chief magistrate of
the borough, and on his marriage with Mary Arden, he
obtained a grant of arms from the Herald's College, and was
allowed to impale his own achievement with that of the
ancient family of the Ardens.
1 Since the above was written, some forty years ago, a much abler
critic and investigator has come forward to illustrate the somewhat dim
knowledge hitherto existing of Shakspeare's family,-Charles Knight.

Life of Shalsfeare. 3
In the deed respecting John Shakspeare, his property is
declared to be worth five hundred pounds, a sum by no
means inconsiderable in those days; and, on the whole, we
have sufficient evidence of his worldly prosperity. From
some unexplained causes, however, his affairs began to alter
for the worse about 1574, and after employing such expedients
to relieve his growing necessities as in the end served only
to aggravate them, he at length fell into such extreme poverty,
that he was obliged to give security for a debt of five pounds ;
and a distress issuing for the seizure of his goods, it was
returned : "Joh'es Shakspere nihil habet unde distr. potest
levari." (John Shakspere has no effects on which a distraint
can be levied.) During the last ten years of his life we have
no particular account of his circumstances ; but, as in 1597
he describes himself as "of very small wealth and very few
friends," we may justly suppose that he remained in great
indigence. He seems, indeed, to have fallen into decay with
his native town, the trade of which was almost ruined; as
,we may learn from the application of the burgesses, in 1590.
The town had then fallen into much decay, for want of
such trade as heretofore they had by clothing, and making
of yarn, employing and maintaining a number of poor people
by the same, which now live in great penury and misery, by
reason they are not set to work as before they'have been."
John Shakspeare died in 1601. His family consisted of
eight children, Jane, Margaret, William, Gilbert, Lorie, Anne,
Richard, and Edmund. Lorie and Margaret died when but
a few months old. Of Gilbert nothing is known but the
register of his baptism. Jane married one Hart, a hatter of
Stratford, and died in 1646, leaving three sons. She is
mentioned with much kindness in her illustrious brother's
will; and the descendants of her children were to be found
in Stratford within these few years. In 1749, a house of
Shakspeare's, in Henly-street, belonged to Thomas Hart, a
butcher, and the sixth in descent from Jane. Anne Shak-
speare died an infant; Richard, according to the parish
register, was buried in 1612. Edmund Shakspeare, actuated
probably by his brother's reputation at the theatre, became
an actor; he performed at the Globe, lived in St. Saviour's;

4 Ljfe of Shakspeare.
Southwark, and was interred in the church-yard of that
parish, on the 31st of December, 1606.
William Shakspeare was born April 23rd, 1564, at Strat-
ford-upon-Avon.. The house, in which the poet first saw the
light, was bought in 1597, from a family of the name of
Underhill. It had been called the great house, not because
it is really large, but on account of its having been at that
time the best in the town. In its present dilapidated state,
the ablest artists have exerted their skill, to preserve the
outline of so remarkable a building for the gratification of
posterity, and the most minute particulars concerning it have
been collected with the utmost avidity.
The chamber, in which our unrivalled dramatist is said to
have drawn his first breath, is pencilled over with the names
of innumerable visitors in every grade of life. Royalty has
been proud to pay this simple tribute to exalted intellect;
and genius has paused in its triumphs, to inscribe these
hallowed walls with the brief sentences which record its love
and veneration for the wonderful man, who once recognized
this lowly tenement as his home. The following lines are
ascribed to Lucien Buonaparte, who, during his stay in
England, made an excursion into Warwickshire, expressly
to gratify his curiosity respecting our all-praised Shak-
speare :
The eye of Genius glistens to admire
How memory hails the sound of Shakspeare's lyre.
One tear I'll shed to form a crystal shrine
Of all that's grand, immortal, and divine.
Let princes o'er their subject kingdoms rule,
'Tis Shakspeare's province to command the soul!
To add one leaf, 0 Shakspeare to thy bays,
How vain the effort, and how mean my lays!
Immortal Shakspeare o'er thy hallow'd page,
Age becomes taught, and youth is e'en made sage."

This house, so venerable on account of its former inmate,
is now divided, one part being a butcher's shop, and the
other a public-house.
Of Shakspeare's infancy we know nothing, except that he
narrowly escaped falling a victim to the plague, which at
that time almost depopulated his native town. We next

Life of Szakspeare. 5
find him at the free grammar-school of Stratford, where we
may suppose he acquired the small Latin and less Greek,"
for which Ben Jonson gives him credit. But even this
imperfect species of education was soon interrupted, the
poverty of his father presenting an insurmountable obstacle
to his further progress. There can be little doubt, however,
that his quick and apprehensive mind would profit materially
even by this limited supply of instruction. In after life, he
seems to have been acquainted with Italian and French,
but these languages he probably acquired through his own
unassisted industry. He now for a considerable period
remained at home, and attended to his father's occupation,
that of a butcher; and Aubrey, an author in whom we should
not put implicit confidence, relates that young Shakspeare
killed a calf "in high style," and graced the slaughter with
an oration. The same writer informs us, that growing
disgusted with this employment, he commenced school-
master, but this, from his juvenility at the time mentioned,
is highly improbable.
Shakspeare's eighteenth year was scarcely past when,
relinquishing his school, or his office, (for Malone makes
him an attorney's clerk,) he ventured to contract that im-
portant engagement, on which the happiness or misery of
life generally turns. He selected for his wife Anne Hath-
away, the daughter of a reputable yeoman in the vicinity of
Stratford. At her marriage, she was eight years older than
her husband, and Shakspeare's domestic felicity does not
appear to have been advanced by the connection. In the
year following, 1583, his daughter Susanna was born ; and
in eighteen months afterwards, his wife bore him twins, a
boy and a girl, baptized by the name of Hamnet and Judith.
This was the whole of the poet's family; from which we
are perhaps justified in concluding, as there are other cir-
cumstances to strengthen the opinion, that his connubial lot
was not enviable; indeed, his wife's years were so ill-assorted
to his own, that little congeniality of sentiment was to be
expected. Hamnet, Shakspeare's only son, died at the early
age of twelve years, an event long and deeply regretted:
the daughters, Susanna and Judith, were married, and had

6 Life of Shakseare.

children. Shakspeare's last lineal descendant was Lady
Barnard, buried, in 1670, at Abingdon, in Berkshire. Some
branches of the family still exist, and are resident at
Tewkesbury and Stratford; they are in great indigence,
and it reflects disgrace on the age, that a proposal for their
benefit, recently made, received hardly any attention.
Surely, when our nobility patronise the refuse of society, in
the shape of pedestrians and pugilists, their generosity might
be exercised in succouring those who claim kindred with
him, who was the glory of his country and of human nature.
The inhabitants of Shakspeare's native town were passion-
ately fond of dramatic entertainments. Travelling companies
of players appear to have visited Stratford on more than
twenty occasions, between 1569 (when the poet was under
six years of age) and 1587. Burbage and Green, two cele-
brated actors, were his townsmen, and even from childhood
his attention must have been attracted to the stage, by the
powerful influence of novelty, and, in all probability, by his
personal acquaintance with some of the comedians. When,
therefore, his views in life were unavoidably altered, it was
natural that the theatre should present itself to his mind as
his best asylum; and directing his fugitive steps to the
metropolis, he became a player, and, in the end, a writer for
the stage. The tale of Shakspeare's attending at the Globe,
on his first arrival at London, to take the charge of gentle-
men's horses, during the performance, is much doubted at
present; but it seems likely that the first office he held in
the theatre, was that of call-boy, or prompter's attendant.
He did not long continue in that capacity, being soon ad-
mitted to perform minor parts in the popular plays of that
Shakspeare followed the profession of an actor upwards of
seventeen years, and till within about thirteen years of his
death; but we have good reason to suppose that six shillings
and eight-pence a-week was the highest reward of his dra-
matic efforts. Of his merit as a player, we have no positive
data on which to -found an estimate, and accordingly there is
great difference of opinion among the critics. Tragedians
and dramatists were not then so jealously watched ai at

.Life of Shaksp~are. 7
present: diurnal reviewers were unknown, and an actor's
faine depended entirely on the caprice of judges, who were
too frequently very incompetent to form a correct decision.
From some satirical passages in the writings of his contempo-
raries, we may fairly suppose that he was not a favourite
performer with the public. His instructions to the players
in Hamlet, however, bespeak such mastery in their art, and
are in themselves so excellent, that we are strongly inclined
to believe that his unpopularity must be attributed more to
the bad taste of his auditors, than to the deficiency of his
own powers. Acting, considered as a science, was then in its
infancy; he that "strutted and bellowed" most, would be
esteemed the best actor. Shakspeare's adherence to nature
would be misunderstood, and his gentleness would be cen-
*sured as tameness.
The only characters, which we know with certainty to
.have been personated by Shakspeare, are the Ghost in Ham-
let, and Adam in As You Like It: his name appears in the
list of players attached to Ben Jonson's Sejanus, and Every
Man in his Humour ; but it is sufficiently evident, that he
never sustained any very important part, and, but for his
,genius as a poet, which neither indigence nor obscurity
could repress, that name which we now repeat with rever-
ence and love, would have been lost in the darkness of
oblivion. That Shakspeare was not more successful'on the
stage, might arise from the injustice and false taste of his
audience: but this is hardly to be lamented, since, had he
been eminent as an actor, he would probably have neglected
'composition. It may indeed be considered (says Dr.
,Drake) as a most fortunate circumstance for the lovers of
,dramatic poetry, that our author, in point of execution, did
not attain to the loftiest summit of his profession. He
would in that case, it is very probable, have either sat down
content with the high reputation accruing to him from this
source, or would have found little time for the labours of
composition, and consequently we should have been in a
great degree, if not altogether, deprived of what now consti-
tutes the noblest efforts of human genius."
Despised as an actor, Shakspeare aspired to distinction as

8 Life of Shaksfeare.
an author ; and notwithstanding his mighty capacity, he
was for a long time content with altering and revising the
productions of others. Of the dramas produced previous to
1600, there were some which abounded with felicitous ideas
and effective situations ; but the writers had used their
materials with little skill, and the touch of a master was
required, to reduce them to order and consistency. The
noblest geniuses of the age did not refuse such employment.
Decker, Rowley, Heywood, and Jonson, were often occupied
in conferring value on such productions; and to this un-
thankful labour, the early efforts of our bard were modestly
Dramatists were, generally speaking, abjectly poor : they
were enthralled by managers, either for past favours,
existing debts, or the well-founded apprehension of needing
their assistance. What can be more affecting, than to find
the illustrious Ben Jonson supplicating from Henslowe the
advance of a sum so paltry as "five shillings ? The calling
Shakspeare embraced was, in a majority of instances, any-
thing rather than profitable : his mighty mind could scarcely
have selected any sphere of action more barren of reward :
but the camp, the senate, and the bar, were then almost
exclusively filled by the young scions of nobility; and pre-
ferring to be first among his brother authors, however humble
their prospects, he poured out all the wealth of his intellect
on the stage, and laid the foundation of a renown, which is
perpetually increasing, and is never likely to be equalled.
No portion of Shakspeare's history is more obscure than
the period at which he first ventured to rely on the resources
of his own mind, and produce an original drama on the stage
which he had so often trod unnoticed. Every attempt to
select from the long list of his wonderful productions the
one which had paved the way for his future eminence, his
maiden effort in the arena of his coming glories, has ended
in uncertainty and disappointment. The Two Gentlemen
of Verona, and the Comedy of Errors, have been pitched
upon, but almost any of his other plays might have been
chosen with an equal approximation to truth. Our bard,
however, was well known as a dramatic writer in 1592, and

Life of Shakspeare. 9
there is reason to suppose that all his compositions for the
stage were written between 1590 and 1613, a period of about
twenty-three years. And when it is considered that we
possess thirty of his plays, which are indisputably genuine,
besides several, the authenticity of which is doubtful, the
marvellous power and range of his intellect will be suffici-
ently evident. According to the chronological order in
which the critics have placed his dramas, his genius appears
in full vigour from its first flight to the moment when its
eagle pinions became quiescent for ever. A Midsummer
Night's Dream is the second inscription on the luminous
column of his renown. Othello, The Tempest, and Twelfth
Night, are engraven in characters of light on its base.
Other minds have had their infancy, their maturity, and
their decline. In other intellects, even the most resplendent,
we observe the unfoldings of genius as of the gradual un-
folding of the morning's light, its maturity as of the full
blaze of noon, and its decline and decay as the twilight of
evening and the darkness of night. Milton wrote Samson
Agonistes before Paradise Lost, and Paradise Regained after
it; but the rise, progress, and termination of Shakspeare's
brilliant career were equally glorious. In combining author
and actor in his own person, the dramatist might in some
degree alleviate his pecuniary difficulties, but it could scarcely
have redeemed him from the indigence under which his
brother writers were suffering ; yet his superlative merit as
a poet soon advanced him in the regard of the great and the
noble. The players in his time were constantly denominated
and treated as servants; and when the actor's duty made
his presence necessary at his patron's mansion, the butter!
was the only place to which he expected admittance. On
the contrary, the friendship of the dramatist was frequently
sought by the opulent; even noblemen made him their
companions, and chose him at once as the object of bounty
and este-:m. In this manner, Shakspeare became the bosom
associate of the all-accomplished Lord Southampton. That
nobleman's father-in-law, Sir Thomas Heininge, was trea-
surer of the queen's chamber, in which capacity it was his
duty to reward the actors employed at court; thus plays

io Life of Shakspeafe.

,and players were almost forced upon the notice of Lord
Southampton, and the hold theatrical amusements had on
his mind is evident, even at a late period of his life, from his
shunning the court for a diurnal attendance at the Globe;
his entertainment of Cecil with "plaies," and his ordering
Richard II. to be performed on the night previous-to the
rebellion of the Earl of Essex. Shakspeare's intimacy with
.Southampton commenced when the latter was about -twenty
:years of age, and from the dedications prefixed to Venus and
Adonis in 1593, and the Rape of Lucrece in 1594, it is appa-
rent that their friendship was cemented by great liberality
in the patron, and lively gratitude in the poet.
Rowe, on the authority of Davenant, relates, that in order
to enable Shakspeare to complete a purchase, Southampton
at once presented him with a thousand pounds, a gift truly
princely. The tradition deserves credit from the wealth
which the dramatist is known to have possessed in a few
years subsequently to his arrival in London ; for it is con-
trary to probability, that his opulence could have arisen
from his emoluments, either as actor or author. All his
.original productions were sold absolutely to the theatre, and
the gain accruing from them could not have been large, as
he neither published his plays, nor received advantage from
their dedication to the wealthy. Some of his dramas were
printed in his life-time; but this was done surreptitiously,
and was at once a fraud on author, proprietor, and reader.
Of Shakspeare's comparative opulence there can be no
doubt; in 1597, he purchased New Place, the most respect-
,able mansion in his native Stratford, and went to consider-
.able expense in alterations and repairs.
In the succeeding year, we find Richard Quyney, a towns-
man, applying to him as a person of substance, for the loan
of thirty pounds; and shortly after, we find him expressing
his readiness to lend, on proper security, a sum of money for
the use of the town of Stratford. His continued advance in
worldly consideration is indicated by his further purchases.
In 1602, according to Wheeler, he gave 3201. for one hundred
,and seventy acres of land, which he added to his estate in
;New Place. In 1605, he bought for 4401. a moiety of the

Life of Sihakspeare. n
great and small tithes of Stratford; and in 1613, a tenement
in Blackfriars for 1401. It is remarkable in this latter pur-
chase, that only 801. of the money was paid down, the
residue being left as a mortgage on the premises. Malone
is of opinion that his annual income could not have been
less than 2001., which, at the age when he lived, was equal to
8001. at present
Several of the nobility, particularly the earls of Pembroke
and Montgomery, vied with Southampton in conferring
benefits on Shakspeare, and he was distinguished in a most
flattering manner, by the favour of two successive sovereigns.
We are told that the Merry Wives of Windsor (the first
draught of which was finished in a fortnight) was written
expressly at the command of the Virgin Queen, who being
highly delighted with Falstaff's humour in Henry IV.,
wished him to be exhibited under the influence of love.
The character of Falstaff, one of the happiest and most
original of all the author's efforts, was, according to Bowman
the player, who cited Sir William Bishop as his authority,
drawn from a townsman of Stratford, who either faithlessly
broke a contract, or spitefully refused to part with some
land, for a valuable consideration, adjoining to Shakspeare's,
in or near the town..
The author's reputation was no doubt increased by the
approbation of his royal mistress, which in all likelihood
was the only solid advantage he obtained from her notice.
Rowe celebrates the "many gracious marks of her favour"
which Shakspeare received ; but no traces of any pecuniary
reward from her munificence are to be found, and the almost
invariable parsimony of Elizabeth towards literary men may
fairly induce us to question whether her generosity was
exhibited in anything more substantial than praise, notwith-
standing all the elegant flattery which the poet offered on
the shrine of her vanity. Elizabeth was certainly a very
highly-gifted woman, but she was too selfish to pay for
applause, which she was sure of obtaining at an easier rate.
In James L the stage found a warm and generous patron.
In 1599, he gave protection to a companyof English comedians
in his Scottish capital; and he -had no sooner ascended the
B 2

12 Life of Shakspeare,
British throne, than he effected an absolute change in the
theatrical world. In the first year of his reign, an act of
parliament passed, which took from the nobility the privilege
of licensing comedians, and all the skeleton companies then
existing were immediately united 'into three regular estab-
lishments patronised by the royal family. Henry, prince
of Wales, became the patron of lord Nottingham's company,
which performed at the Curtain; the earl of Worcester's
servants, who commonly acted at the Red Bull, were turned
over to the queen, and ultimately designated Children of the
Revels; while the king declared the lord chamberlain's
company under his own especial care. The license which
James granted to Laurence Fletcher, William Shakspeare,
Richard Burbage, and others, dated May 19, 1603, constituted
them his servants, gave them legal possession of their usual
house, the Globe, and allowed them to exhibit every kind of
dramatic representation, in all suitable places in his do-
minions. From this document we learn that the Globe was
the theatre generally occupied by the lord chamberlain's
servants; but they had some interest at the house at Black-
friars, which, in the end, they purchased. At these theatres
all Shakspeare's plays were originally acted; the Globe was
the summer, the Blackfriars the winter house of the com-
pany with which he was connected.
Though Elizabeth and James were particularly fond of
dramatic representations, it does not appear that they ever
visited the public theatres; they gratified their taste by
commanding the comedians to perform plays at court.
These entertainments were usually given at night, which
arrangement suited the actors, as the theatres were generally
open in the morning. The ordinary fee for such a perform-
ance in London was 61. 13s. 4d. and an additional 31. 6s. 8d.
was sometimes bestowed by the bounty of royalty.
Shakspeare soon became important in the management
of the theatre, and participated in all the emoluments of the
company. It is impossible to estimate his income from this
source ; we are ignorant into how many shares this theatrical
property was divided; nor can we tell what proportion of
them was enjoyed by our poet. If, however, he was equal

Lie of Shaksfeare. 13
with Heminges, who is joined with him in the license, we
are authorised by his partner to assert that it produced a
good yearly income." This worldly elevation induced him
to quit the drudgery of an actor, which employment he
speaks of in his Sonnets with disgust, and thenceforth he
seems to have yielded all the powers of his comprehensive
mind to the improvement of dramatic literature. The
affectionate wish which Shakspeare formed in early life,
to return, after his brilliant career, to his native Stratford,
and die at home, induced him to purchase New Place, in
1597. In the pleasure-ground of that unassuming mansion,
he planted with his own hand a mulberry tree, which
flourished for many years, and was regarded with reverence.
To this favourite spot, in 1613 or 1614, he retired from the
applause of his contemporaries and the bustle of the world,
to the genuine repose and unsophisticated pleasures of a
country life. Aubrey informs us, that it was our bard's
custom to visit Stratford yearly; but previous to 1596, the
place of his residence in London has not been discovered.
He then lodged near the Bear Garden in Southwark, and
it is not improbable that he remained there till his final
retirement from the metropolis.
Much has been said of the rivalship and dissension be-
tween Ben Jonson and Shakspeare: we shall give a few
particulars, from which we think it will appear that they
both were entirely free from personal ill-will. Pope says,
that Jonson "loved Shakspeare as well as honoured his
memory, celebrates the honesty, openness, and frankness of
his temper, and only distinguishes, as he reasonably ought,
between the real merit of the author, and the silly and
derogatory applause of the players." Gilchrist, a very
clever critic, published a pamphlet to prove that Jonson
was never a harsh or envious rival of Shakspeare, and that
the popular opinion on the subject is altogether erroneous.
Rowe gives us the subjoined anecdote, which has been
thought worthy of credit: "Mr. Jonson, who was at that
time altogether unknown to the world, had offered one of
his plays to the players, in order to have it acted; and the
persons into whose hands it was put, after having turned it

-4- -Life .of, Sfakspeare.
carelessly and superciliously over, were just upon returning
it to him with an ill-natured answer, that it would be of no
service to their company, when Shakspeare luckily cast his
eye upon it, and found something so well in it as to engage
him first to read it through, and afterwards to recommend
Mr. Jonson and his writings to the public." It is not a
little remarkable, that Jonson seems to have held a higher
place in public estimation than our poet, for more than a
century after the death of the latter. Within that period,
Ben's works went through numerous editions, and were
read with eagerness, while Shakspeare's remained in com-
parative neglect till the time of Rowe: of this fact, abund-
ant evidence might be given; not only was Jonson preferred,
but even Beaumont and Fletcher, with many dramatic
writers infinitely below them in merit, were exalted above
Fuller's comparative view of these illustrious writers is
highly interesting : Shakspeare was an eminent instance
of the truth of that rule, Poeta non fit sed nascitur (one is
not made, but born a poet). Indeed his learning was but
very little ; so that as Cornish diamonds are not polished
by any lapidary, but are pointed and smoothed even as they
are taken out of the earth, so nature itself was all the art
which was used upon him. Many were the wit combats
betwixt him and Ben Jonson, which two I beheld, like a
Spanish great galleon and an English man of war! Master
Jonson, like the former, was built far higher in learning,
solid but slow in his performances. Shakspeare, with the
English man of war, lesser in bulk, but lighter in sailing,
could turn with all tides, and take advantage of all winds,
by the quickness of his wit and invention."
The following anecdote, preserved by Malone, will serve to
shew the habits of close intimacy in which these great and
amiable men lived. In the serious business of life, rivals,
and even enemies, are often obliged to associate: but when
we find men seeking each other in the season of relaxation,
and mingling thoughts in their sportive humours, we may
safely pronounce them to be friends. An amicable dispute
arose concerning the motto of the Globe theatre: "Totus

Life of Shakspeare. 15

mundus agit histrionem" (all the world acts a play); some
condemned it as unmeaning, others declared it to be a fine
piece of sententious wisdom ; Jonson, being asked for his
opinion, wrote on a scrap of paper,
If but stage actors all the world displays,
Where shall we find spectators of their plays ?"

Shakspeare smiled, and taking the pen, set down these
lines under Ben's couplet :
Little or much of what we see we do,
We're all both actors and spectators too."
All this may be called trifling ; but even trifles become
interesting when connected with a Jonson and a Shak-
Mr. Gifford has triumphantly proved, that the once gener-
ally received opinion of Jonson's malignant feelings towards
his friend and benefactor, is void of the slightest foundation
in fact ; on the contrary, we are justified in believing that
the author of Sejanus was, on all occasions, ready to admit
the wonderful merit of his less learned, but more highly-
gifted, contemporary. His lines under Shakspeare's effigy
breathe the warmest spirit of reverence and lo
"The figure that thou here seest put,
It was for gentle Shakspeare cut;
Wherein the graver had a strife
With nature to outdo the life.
0, could he but have drawne his wit
As well in brass as he hath hit
His face, the print would then surpass
All that was ever writ in brass :
Bat since he cannot, reader looke
Not on his picture but his booke"
Queen Elizabeth used sometimes to sit behind the scenes,
while her favourite plays were performing: one evening,
Shakspeare enacted the part of a monarch (probably, in
Henry IV.). The audience knew that her Majesty was
present. She crossed the stage while Shakspeare was acting,
and being loudly greeted by the spectators, curtsied politely
to the poet, who took no notice of her condescension. When

16 Life of Shakspeare.
behind the scenes, she caught his eye and moved again, but
still he would not throw off his character to pay her any atten
tion. This made her Majesty think of some means to know
whether she could induce him to forget the dignity of his
character while on the stage. Accordingly, as he was about
to make his exit, she stepped before him, dropped her glove,
and re-crossed the stage, which Shakspeare noticing, took it
up with these words, so immediately after finishing his
speech, that they seemed to belong to it:
"And though now bent on this high embassy,
Yet stoop we to take up our cousin's glove."
He then withdrew from the stage, and presented the glove
to the queen, who was much pleased with his behaviour, and
complimented him on its propriety.
Rowe says : "The latter part of his life was spent, as all
men of good sense would wish theirs may be, in ease, retire-
ment, and the conversation of his friends. His pleasurable
wit and good nature engaged him in the acquaintance, and
entitled him to the friendship, of the gentlemen of the
neighbourhood." And in the words of Dr. Drake, He was
high in reputation as a poet, favoured by the great and ac-
complished, and beloved by all who knew him." Nothing
can be more delightful than to contemplate this wonderful
man, in the vigour of his age, and in the full possession of
his amazing faculties, retiring from the scene of his well-
earned triumphs, to find, in the comparative exclusion of his
native town, that repose and quietude both of mind and
body, which is not to be looked for in the bustle of the
world. And if he, whose glory was to fill the universe, and
whose pursuits (if anything connected with time can be,)
were worthy of an immortal soul, could pant for retirement
in the meridian of his days, what excuse have they who,
in senecfude and feebleness, continue to toil among the mole-
hills of earth for a little perishable gold, for which they
have no use when they have obtained it ?
Shakspeare retired from the metropolis at a period little
past the prime of life. We meet with no hint of any failure
in his constitution; and the execution of his will, in per-

Life of Shakspeare. 17

feet health and memory," on the 25th of March, 1616, war-
rants no immediate expectation of his decease. The curtain
was now to fall, however, on this earthly stage of existence.
He died on the 23rd of April, the anniversary of his birth,
having exactly completed his fifty-second year. On the
25th, two days after his death, his body was laid in its
original dust, being buried under the north side of the
chancel of the great church at Stratford; a flat stone, pro-
tecting all that was perishable of the remains of Shakspeare,
bears this inscription :
Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbeare
To digg the dust enclosed here:
Bless'd be the man that spares these stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones."
The common opinion is, that these lines were written by
the poet himself; but this notion has, perhaps, originated
solely from the use of the word my" in the closing line.
"The imprecation," says Malone, was probably suggested by
an apprehension "that our author's remains might share the
same fate with those of the rest of his countrymen, and be
added to the immense pile of human bones deposited in
Stratford charnel-house."
We shall now give a brief abstract of Shakspeare's will,
which is yet extant in the Prerogative Office. It bears
date, March 25, 1616, and commences with the following
"In the name of God, amen. I, William Shakspeare, at
Stratford-upon-Avon, in the county of Warwick, gent., in
perfect health and memory, (God be praised !) do make and'
ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form
following : that is to say :
"First, I commend my soul into the hands of God my
Creator, hoping, and assuredly believing, through the only
merits of Jesus Christ, my Saviour, to be made partaker of
life everlasting; and my body to the earth, whereof it is
It then proceeds to make the bequests enumerated below:
To his daughter Judith he gave 1501. of lawful English

; 8 Life of Shakspeare.
money; 1001. to be paid in discharge of her marriage-por-
tion within one year after his decease, and the remaining
501. upon her giving up to her elder sister, Susanna Hall, all
her right in a copyhold tenement and appurtenances, parcel
.of the manor of Rowington. To the said Judith he also
bequeathed 1501. more, if she or any of her issue were living
three years from the date of his will; but, in the contrary
event, then he directed that 1001. of the sum should be paid
to his niece, Elizabeth Hall, and the proceeds of the 501. to
his sister Joan, or Jone Hart, for life, with residue to her
children. He further gave to the said Judith a broad silver-
gilt bowl. To his sister Joan, beside the contingent bequest
above-mentioned, he gave 201. and all his wearing apparel;
also the house in Stratford, in which she was to reside for her
natural life, under the yearly rent of twelvepence. To her
three sons, William Hart, Hart, and Michael Hart, he
gave 51. a piece, to be paid within one year after his decease.
To his grand-daughter, Elizabeth Hall, he bequeathed all his
plate, the silver bowl above excepted. To the poor of Strat-
ford he bequeathed 101. ; to Mr. Thomas Cole, his sword;
to Thomas Russel, 51. ; to Francis Collins, esq., 131. 6s. 8d.;
to Hamlet (Hamnet), saddler, 11. 6s. 8d. to buy a ring; and
a like sum, for the same purpose, to William Renolds, gent.,
Anthony Nash, gent., John Hemynge, Richard Burbage, and
Henry Cundell, his fellows ;" also twenty shillings in gold
to his godson, William Walker. To his daughter, Susanna
Hall, he bequeathed New Place, with their appurtenances,
situated in Henley-street; also, all his "barns, stables,
orchards, gardens, lands, tenements and hereditaments what-
soever, situate, lying, and being, or to be had, received,
perceived, or taken, within the towns, hamlets, villages,
fields, and ground of Stratford-upon-Avon, Old Stratford,
Bishopton, and Welcombe, or in any of them in the said
county of Warwick ; and also all that message or tenement,
with the appurtenances, wherein one John Robinson dwelleth,
situated, lying, and being in the Blackfriars, London, near
the Wardrobe; and all my other lands, tenements, and here-
ditaments whatsoever, to have and to hold all and singular
the said premises, with their appurtenances, unto the said

Lffr e of e Shakspeare. nj
Susanna Hall, for and during the term of her natural life :
and, after her decease, to the first son of her body, lawfully
issuing; and to the heirs male of her said first son, law-
fully issuing; and for default of such issue, to the second
son of her body, lawfully issuing, and to the heirs male of the
said second son, lawfully issuing;" and so forth, as to third,
fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh sons of her body, and their
heirs male: "and for default of such issue, the said premises
to be and remain to my niece, Hall, and the heirs male of
her body, lawfully issuing; and for default of such issue, to
her daughter Judith, and the heirs male of her body, lawfully
issuing; and for default of such issue, to the right heirs of
me the said William Shakspeare." To the said Susanna
Hall and her husband, whom he appointed executors of his
will, under the direction of Francis Collins and Thomas
Russel, esqs. he further bequeathed all the rest of his "goods,
chattles, leases, plate, jewels, and household stuff whatso-
ever," after the payment of his debts, legacies, and funeral
expenses; with the exception of his "second-best bed, with
the furniture," which constituted the only bequest he made
to his wife, and that by insertion after the will was written
A few additional facts respecting Shakspeare's family may
be acceptable. His wife survived him seven years, and was
buried between his grave and the north wall of the chancel,
under a stone inlaid with brass, and inscribed thus :
"Heere lyeth interred the bodye of Anne, wife of Mr.
William Shakspeare, who departed this life the sixth day of
August, 1623, being at the age of sixty-seven yearss"
We have thus, as briefly as the importance of such a
memoir would permit, gone over the meagre biographical
remains of the noblest dramatic poet the world has ever
produced. Without attempting to draw the character of this
matchless writer, we have occasionally, in the course of
our narrative, endeavoured to mark the feeling of respect
and admiration by which we are influenced while con-
templating the mighty performances of a mind, which, with
little assistance from education, surpassed all the efforts of
ancient and modern genius.

20 Order of Shaksfeare's Dramas.


THE ensuing enumeration of Shakspeare's dramas with
the dates assigned by the most generally received authori-
ties, is merely given as a matter of curiosity; for the learned
commentators are so much at variance in their chronology,
that it deserves little or no attention. Indeed, when we
reflect that the first edition of our author did not appear till
several years after his death, and was then published by the
players, who it can scarcely be supposed, would pay any
regard to the order of time in their arrangement of the
dramas, it must be obvious, that, with a very few exceptions,
the dates given to those compositions are purely conjec-
tural. A cloud rests over Shakspeare's career as an author,
which is not now likely to be dispersed; those who were
most familiar with the operations of his extraordinary
genius, seem to have been hardly aware "that he was not
for a day, but for all time;" they paid their shillings and
applauded his productions on the stage, perhaps, but they
had little taste or inclination to do them justice in the
closet. Shakspeare himself appears to have been remark-
ably careless of his own fame : he produced his great works
without effort, and bequeathed them to his country, un-
conscious of their merit, and reckless of their fate.

M-alone. Chahners. XKight.
Pericles Not acknowledged. 1609
First Part of King Henry VI. 1589 1589 1592
Second ditto 1590 1590 1594
Third ditto ,1591 1595 1595

Order of Shaksfeare's Dramas. 21
Malone. Chalmers. Knight.
A Midsummer Night's Dream 1592 1598 1598
Comedy of Errors 1593 1591 1598
Taming of the Shrew 1594 1598 1607
Love's Labour's Lost 1594 1592 1598
Two Gentlemen of Verona .1595 1595 1598
Romeo and Juliet 1595 1592 1597
Hamlet 1596 1597 1603
King John 1596 1598 1598
King Richard II. 1597 1595 1596
King Richard III. .1597 1595 1597
First Part of King Henry IV. 1597 1596 1598
Second ditto .1598 1597 1600
Merchant of Venice 1598 1597 1598
All's Well that Ends Well 1598 1599 1598
King Henry V. 1599 1597 1600
Much Ado about Nothing .1600 1599 1600
As You Like It 1600 1599 1600
Merry Wives of Windsor .1601 1596 1602
King Henry VIII. .1601 1613 1613
Troilus and Cressida 1602 1600 1609
Measure for Measure 1603 1604 1604
The Winter's Tale 1604 1601 1611
King Lear 1605 1605 1607
Cymbeline 1605 1606 -
Macbeth 1606 1606 -
Julius Cmqar 1607 1607
Antony and Cleopatra 1608 1608 -
Timon of Athens 1609 1601
Coriolanus 1610 1609 -
Othello 1611 1614 1602
The Tempest 1612 1613 1611
Twelfth Night 1614 1608 1602
Titus Andronicus not acknowledged by these critics nor
indeed by any author of credit, but originally published
about 1589.

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V; :I :aj /i~i





THE two chief families in Verona were the rich Capulets
and the Montagues. There had been an old quarrel between
these families, which was grown to such a height, and so
deadly was the enmity between them, that it extended to
the remotest kindred, to the followers and retainers of both
sides, insomuch that a servant of the house of Montague
could not meet a servant of the house of Capulet, nor a
Capulet encounter with a Montague by chance, but fierce
words and sometimes bloodshed ensued; and frequent were
the brawls from such accidental meetings, which disturbed
the happy quiet of Verona's estate.
Old lord Capulet made a great supper, to which many fair
ladies and many noble guests were invited. All the admired
beauties of Verona were present, and all comers were made
welcome if they were not of the house of Montague. At this
feast of Capulets, Rosaline, beloved of Romeo, son to the old
lord Montague, was present; and though it was dangerous
for a Montague to be seen in this assembly, yet Benvolio, a
friend of Romeo, persuaded the young lord to go to this
assembly in the disguise of a mask, that he might see his
Rosaline, and seeing her, compare her with some choice
beauties of Verona, who (he said) would make him think his
swan a crow. Romeo had small faith in Benvolio's words;
nevertheless, for the love of Rosaline, he was persuaded to
go. For Romeo was a sincere and passionate lover, and on&

24 Tales from Szakspeare.
that lost his sleep for love, and fled society to be alone,
thinking on Rosaline, who disdained him, and never requited
his love with the least show of courtesy or affection.; and
Benvolio wished to cure his friend of this love by showing
him diversity of ladies and company. To this feast of
Capulets then young Romeo with Benvolio and their friend
Mercutio went masked. Old Capulet bid them welcome,
and told them that ladies who had their toes unplagued with
corns would dance with them. And the old man was light-
hearted and merry, and said that he had worn a mask when
he was young, and could have told a whispering tale in a
fair lady's ear. And they fell to dancing, and Romeo was
suddenly struck with the exceeding beauty of a lady that
danced there, who seemed to him to teach the torches to
burn bright, and her beauty to show by night like a rich
jewel worn by a blackamoor: beauty too rich for use, too
dear for earth like a snowy dove trooping with crows (he
said), so richly did her beauty and perfections shine above
the ladies her companions. While he uttered these praises,
he was overheard by Tybalt, a nephew of lord Capulet, who
knew him by his voice to be Romeo. And this Tybalt, being
of a fiery and passionate temper, could not endure that a
Montague should come under cover of a mask, to fleer and
scorn (as he said) at their solemnities. And he stormed and
raged exceedingly, and would have struck young Romeo
dead. But his uncle, the old lord Capulet, would not suffer
him to do any injury at that time, both out of respect to his
guests, and because Romeo had borne himself like a gentle-
man, and all tongues in Verona bragged of him to be a
virtuous and well-governed youth. Tybalt, forced to be
patient against his will, restrained himself, but swore that
this vile Montague should at another time dearly pay for
his intrusion.
The dancing being done, Romeo watched the place where
the lady stood; and under favour of his masking habit,
which might seem to excuse in part the liberty, he presumed
in the gentlest manner to take her by the hand, calling it a
shrine, which if he profaned by touching it, he was a blush-
ing pilgrim, and would kiss it for atonement. "Good

Romeo and Jlliet. 25
pilgrim," answered the lady, your devotion shows by far too
mannerly and too courtly : saints have hands, which pilgrims
may touch, but kiss not." "Have not saints lips, and pilgrims
too said Romeo. Ay," said the lady, lips which they
must use in prayer." 0 then, my dear saint," said Romeo,
" hear my prayer and grant it, lest I despair." In such like
allusions and loving conceits they were engaged, when the
lady was called away to her mother. And Romeo inquiring
who her mother was, discovered that the lady whose peerless
beauty he was so much struck with, was young Juliet,
daughter and heir to the lord Capulet, the great enemy of
the Montagues ; and that he had unknowingly engaged his
heart to his foe. This troubled him, but it could not dissuade
him from loving. As little rest had Juliet, when she found
that the gentleman that she had been talking with was
Romeo and a Montague, for she had been suddenly smit
with the same hasty and inconsiderate passion for Romeo,
which he had conceived for her; and a prodigious birth of
love it seemed to her, that she must love her enemy, and
that her affections should settle there, where family consider-
ations should induce her chiefly to hate.
It being midnight, Romeo with his companions departed;
but they soon missed him, for unable to stay away from the
house where he had left his heart, he leaped the wall of an
orchard which was at the back of Juliet's house. Here he
had not remained long, ruminating on his new love, when
Juliet appeared above at a window, through which her
exceeding beauty seemed to break like the light of the sun
in the east; and the moon, which shone in the orchard with
a faint light, appeared to Romeo as if sick and pale with
grief at the superior lustre of this new sun. And she lean-
ing her hand upon her cheek, he passionately wished himself
a glove upon that hand, that he might touch her cheek. She
all this while thinking herself alone, fetched a deep sigh, and
exclaimed, "Ah me !" Romeo was enraptured to hear her
speak, and said softly, unheard by her, "0 speak again,
bright angel, for such you appear, being over my head, like
a winged messenger from heaven whom mortals fall back to
gaze upon." She, unconscious of being overheard, and full
I. c

26 Tales from Shakspeare.
of the new passion which that night's adventure had given
birth to, called upon her lover by name (whom she supposed
absent): "0 Romeo, Romeo!" said she, "wherefore art
thou Romeo l Deny thy father, and refuse thy name, for my
sake; or if thou wilt not, be but my sworn love, and I no
longer will be a Capulet." Romeo, having this encourage-
ment, would fain have spoken, but he was desirous of
hearing more ; and the lady continued her passionate dis-
course with herself (as she thought), still chiding Romeo for
being Romeo and a Montague, and wishing him some other
name, or that he would put away the hated name, and for
that name, which was no part of himself, he should take all
herself. At this loving word Romeo could no longer refrain,
but taking up the dialogue as if her words had been addressed
to him personally, and not merely in fancy, he bade her call
him Love, or by whatever other name she pleased, for he
was no longer Romeo, if that name was displeasing to her.
Juliet, alarmed to hear a man's voice in the garden, did not
at first know who it was, that by favour of the night and
darkness had thus stumbled upon the discovery of her secret;
but when he spoke again, though her ears had not yet drunk
a hundred words of that tongue's uttering, yet so nice is a
lover's hearing, that she immediately knew him to be young
Romeo, and she expostulated with him on the danger to
which he had exposed himself by climbing the orchard walls,
for if any of her kinsmen should find him there, it would be
death to him, being a Montague. "Alack," said Romeo,
" there is more peril in your eye, than in twenty of their
swords. Do you but look kind upon me, lady, and I am
proof against their'enmity, Better my life should be ended
by their hate, than that hated life should be prolonged, to
live without your love." '" How came you into this place,"
said Juliet, and by whose direction ? Love directed me,"
answered Romeo : I am no pilot, yet wert thou as far apart
from me, as that vast shore which is washed with the
farthest sea, I should adventure for such merchandise." A
crimson blush came over the face of Juliet, yet unseen by
Romeo by reason of the night, when she reflected upon the
discovery which she had made, yet not meaning to make it,

Romeo and fuliet. 27
of her love to Romeo. She would fain have recalled her
words, but that was impossible: fain would she have stood
upon form, and have kept her lover at a distance, as the
custom of discreet ladies is, to frown and be perverse, and
give their suitors harsh denials at first; to stand off, and
affect a coyness or indifference, where they most love, that
their lovers may not think them too lightly or too easily won :
for the difficulty of attainment increases the value of the
object. But there was no room in her case for denials, or
putting off, or any of the customary arts of delay and pro-
tractive courtship. Romeo had heard from her own tongue,
when she did not dream that he was near her, a confession
of her love. So with an honest frankness, which the novelty
of her situation excused, she confirmed the truth of what he
had before heard, and addressing him by the name of fair
Montage (love can sweeten a sour name), she begged him
not to impute her easy yielding to levity or an unworthy
mind, but that he must lay the fault of it (if it were a fault)
upon the accident of the night which had so strangely dis-
covered her thoughts. And she added, that though her
behaviour to him might not be sufficiently prudent, measured
by the custom of her sex, yet that she would prove more
true than many whose prudence was dissembling, and their
modesty artificial cunning.
Romeo was beginning to call the heavens to witness, that
nothing was farther from his thoughts than to impute a
shadow of dishonour to such an honoured lady, when she
stopped him, begged him not to swear : for although she
joyed in him, yet she had no joy of that night's contract; it
was too rash, too unadvised, too sudden. But he being
urgent with her to exchange a vow of love with her that
night, she said that she already had given him hers before he
requested it; meaning, when he overheard her confession;
but she would retract what she then bestowed, for the
pleasure of giving it again, for her bounty was as infinite as
the sea, and her love as deep. From this loving conference
she was called away by her nurse, who slept with her, and
thought it time for her to be in bed, for it was near to day-
break; but hastily returning, she said three or four words

28 Tales from Shaksfeare.
more to Romeo, the purport of which was, that if his love
was indeed honourable, and his purpose marriage, she would
send a messenger to him to-morrow, to appoint a time for
their marriage, when she would lay all her fortunes at his
feet, and follow him as her lord through the world. While
they were settling this point, Juliet was repeatedly called for
by her nurse, and went in and returned, and went and
returned again, for she seemed as jealous of Romeo going
from her, as a young girl of her bird, which she will let hop
a little from her hand, and pluck it back with a silken
thread ; and Romeo was as loath to part as she : for the
sweetest music to lovers is the sound of each other's tongues
at night. But at last they parted, wishing mutually sweet
sleep and rest for that night.
The day was breaking when they parted, and Romeo, who
was too full of thoughts of his mistress and that blessed
meeting to allow him to sleep, instead of going home, bent
his course to a monastery hard by, to find friar Lawrence.
The good friar was already up at his devotions, but seeing
young Romeo abroad so early, he conjectured rightly that he
had not been abed that night, but that some distemper of
youthful affection had kept him waking. He was right in
imputing the cause of Romeo's wakefulness to love, but he
made a wrong guess at the object, for he thought that his
love for Rosaline had kept him waking. But when Romeo
revealed his new passion for Juliet, and requested the assist-
ance of the friar to marry them that day, the holy man
lifted up his eyes and hands in a sort of wonder at the sudden
change in Romeo's affections, for he had been privy to all
Romeo's love for Rosaline, and his many complaints of her
disdain; and he said that young men's love lay not truly in
their hearts, but in their eyes. But Romeo replying that he
himself had often chidden him for doting on Rosaline, who
could not love him again, whereas Juliet both loved and was
beloved by him, the friar assented in some measure to his
reasons ; and thinking that a matrimonial alliance between
young Juliet and Romeo might happily be the means of
making up the long breach between the Capulets and the
Montagues; which no one more lamented than this good

Romeo and Juliet. 29
friar, who was a friend to both the families, and had often
interposed his mediation to make up the quarrel without
effect; partly moved by policy, and partly by his fondness
for young Romeo, to whom he could deny nothing, the old
man consented to join their hands in marriage.
Now was Romeo blessed indeed, and Juliet, who knew his
intent from a messenger which she had despatched according
to promise, did not fail to be early at the cell of friar
Lawrence, where their hands were joined in holy marriage;
the good friar praying the heavens to smile upon that act,
and in the union of this young Montague and young
Capulet to bury the old strife and long dissensions of their
The ceremony being over, Juliet hastened home, where she
staid impatient for the coming of night, at which time Romeo
promised to come and meet her in the orchard, where they
had met the night before; and the time between seemed as
tedious to her, as the night before some great festival seems
to an impatient child, that has got new finery which it may
not put on till the morning.
That same day about noon, Romeo's friends, Benvolio and
Mercutio, walking through the streets of Verona, were met
by a party of the Capulets with the impetuous Tybalt-at
their head. This was the same angry Tybalt who would
have fought with Romeo at old Lord Capulet's feast. He
seeing Mercutio, accused him bluntly of associating with
Romeo, a Montague. Mercutio, who had as much fire and
youthful blood in him as Tybalt, replied to this accusation
with some sharpness; and in spite of all Benvolio could say
to moderate their wrath, a quarrel was beginning, when
Romeo himself passing that way, the fierce Tybalt turned
from Mercutio to Romeo, and gave him the disgraceful
appellation of villain. Romeo wished to avoid a quarrel with
Tybalt above all men, because he was the kinsman of Juliet,
and much beloved by her ; besides, this young Montague
had never thoroughly entered into the family quarrel, being
by nature wise and gentle, and the name of a Capulet, which
was his dear lady's name, was now rather a charm to allay
resentment than a watchword to excite fury. So he tried to

30 Tales from Shakspeare.
reason with Tybalt, whom he saluted mildly by the name of
good Capulet, as if he, though a Montague, had some secret
pleasure in uttering that name: but Tybalt, who hated all
Montagues as he hated hell, would hear no reason, but drew
his weapon ; and Mercutio, who knew not of Romeo's secret
'motive for desiring peace with Tybalt, but looked upon his
present forbearance as a sort of calm dishonourable sub-
mission, with many disdainful words provoked Tybalt to the
prosecution of his first quarrel with him; and Tybalt and
Mercutio fought, till Mercutio fell, receiving his death's
wound while Romeo and Benvolio were vainly endeavouring
to part the combatants. Mercutio being dead, Romeo kept
his temper no longer, but returned the scornful appellation
of villain which Tybalt had given hin ; and they fought till
Tybalt was slain by Romeo. This deadly broil falling out in
the midst of Verona at noonday, the news of it quickly
brought a crowd of citizens to the spot, and among them the
old lords Capulet and Montague, with their wives; and
soon after arrived the prince himself, who being related to
Mercutio, whom Tybalt had slain, and having had the
peace of his government often disturbed by these brawls of
Montagues and Capulets, came determined to put the law
in strictest force against those who should be found to be
offenders. Benvolio, who had been eyewitness to the fray,
was commanded by the prince to relate the origin of it,
which he did, keeping as near to the truth as he could with-
out injury to Romeo, softening and excusing the part which
his friends took in it. Lady Capulet, whose extreme grief
for the loss of her kinsman Tybalt made her keep no bounds
in her revenge, exhorted the prince to do strict justice upon
his murderer, and to pay no attention to Benvolio's repre-
sentation, who being Romeo's friend, and a Montague, spoke
partially. Thus she pleaded against her new son-in-law, but
she knew not yet that he was her son-in-law, and Juliet's
husband. On the other hand was to be seen lady Montague
pleading for her child's life, and arguing with some justice
that Romeo had done nothing worthy of punishment in
taking the life of Tybalt, which was already forfeited to the
law by his having slain Mercutio. The prince, unmoved by

Romeo and Juliet. 31
the passionate exclamations of these women, on a careful
examination of the facts, pronounced his sentence, and by
that sentence Romeo was banished from Verona.
Heavy news to young Juliet, who had been but a few
hours a bride, and now by this decree seemed everlastingly
divorced When the tidings reached her, she at first gave
way to rage against Romeo, who had slain her dear cousin :
she called him a beautiful tyrant, a fiend angelical, a ravenous
dove, a lamb with a wolf's nature, a serpent-heart hid with
a flowering face, and other like contradictory names, which
denoted the struggles in her mind between her love and her
resentment: but in the end love got the mastery, and the
tears which she shed for grief that Romeo had slain her
cousin, turned to drops of joy that her husband lived whom
Tybalt would have slain. Then came fresh tears, and they
were altogether of grief for Romeo's banishment. That
word was more terrible to her than the death of many
Romeo, after the fray, had taken refuge in friar Lawrence's
cell, where he was first made acquainted with the prince's
sentence, which seemed to him far more terrible than death.
To him it appeared there was no world out of Verona's walls,
no living out of the sight of Juliet. Heaven was there where
Juliet lived, and all beyond was purgatory, torture, hell. The
good friar would have applied the consolation of philosophy
to his griefs ; but this frantic young man would hear of none,
but like a madman he tore his hair, and threw himself all
along upon the ground, as he said, to take the measure of
Shis grave. From this unseemly state he was roused by a
message from his dear lady, which a little revived him, and
then the friar took the advantage to expostulate with him
on the unmanly weakness which he had shown. He had
slain Tybalt, but would he .also slay himself, slay his dear
lady who lived but in his life 1 The noble form of man, he
said, was but a shape of wax, when it wanted the courage
which should keep it firm. The law had been lenient to him,
that instead of death which he had incurred, had pronounced
by the prince's mouth only banishment. He had slain Tybalt,
but Tybalt would have slain him: there was a sort of

32 Tales from Shakspeare.
happiness in that. Juliet was alive, and (beyond all hope)
had become his dear wife, therein he was most happy All
these blessings, as the friar made them out to be, did Romeo
put from him like a sullen misbehaved wench. And the
friar bade him beware, for such as despaired (he said) died
miserable. Then when Romeo was a little calmed, he
counselled him that he should go that night and secretly
take his leave of Juliet, and thence proceed straightways to
Mantua, at which place he should sojourn, till the friar found
a fit occasion to publish his marriage, which might be a
joyful means of reconciling their families; and then he did
not doubt but the prince would be moved to pardon him, and
he would return with twenty times more joy than he went
forth with grief. Romeo was convinced by these wise
counsels of the friar, and took his leave to go and seek his
lady, purposing to stay with her that night, and by daybreak
pursue his journey alone to Mantua; to which place the good
friar promised to send him letters from time to time,
acquainting him with the state of affairs at home.
That night Romeo passed with his dear wife, gaining
secret admission to her chamber from the orchard in which
he had heard her confession of love the night before. That
had been a night of unmixed joy and rapture; but the
pleasures of this night, and the delight which these lovers
took in each other's society, were sadly allayed with the
prospect of parting, and the fatal adventures of the past day.
The unwelcome daybreak seemed to come too soon, and
when Juliet heard the morning song of the lark, she would
fain have persuaded herself that it was the nightingale,
which sings by night; but it was too truly the lark which
sung, and a discordant and unpleasing note it seemed to her;
and the streaks of day in the east too certainly pointed out
that it was time for these lovers to part. Romeo took his
leave of his dear wife with a heavy heart, promising to write
to her from Mantua every hour in the day, and when he had
descended from her chamber-window, as he stood below her
on the ground, in that sad foreboding state of mind, in which
she was, he appeared to her eyes as one dead in the bottom
of a tomb. Romeo's mind misgave him in like manner; but

Romeo and huliet. 33
now he was forced hastily to depart, for it was death for him
to be found within the walls of Verona after daybreak.
This was but the beginning of the tragedy of this pair of
star-crossed lovers. Romeo had not been gone many days,
before the old lord Capulet proposed a match for Juliet.
The husband he had chosen for her, not dreaming that she
was married already, was count Paris, a gallant, young, and
noble gentleman, no unworthy suitor to the young Juliet if
she had never seen Romeo.
The terrified Juliet was in a sad perplexity at her father's
offer. She pleaded her youth unsuitable to marriage, the
recent death of Tybalt, which had left her spirits too weak
to meet a husband with any face of joy, and how indecorous
it would show for the family of the Capulets to be celebrating
a nuptial-feast, when his funeral solemnities were hardly
over: she pleaded every reason against the match, but the
true one, namely, that she was married already. But lord
Capulet was deaf to all her excuses, and in a peremptory
manner ordered her to get ready, for by the following
Thursday she should be married to Paris: and having found
her a husband rich, young, and noble, such as the proudest
maid in Verona might joyfully accept, he could not bear
that out of an affected coyness, as he construed her denial,
she should oppose obstacles to her own good fortune.
In this extremity Juliet applied to the friendly friar,
always her counsellor in distress, and he asking her if she
had resolution to undertake a desperate remedy, and she
answering that she would go into the grave alive, rather
than marry Paris, her own dear husband living ; he directed
her to go home, and appear merry, and give her consent to
marry Paris, according to her father's desire, and on the
next night, which was the night before the marriage, to
drink off the contents of a phial which he then gave her, the
effect of which would be, that for two-and-forty hours after
drinking it she should appear cold and lifeless ; that when
the bridegroom came to fetch her in the morning, he would
find her to appearance dead; that then she would be borne,
as the manner in that country was, uncovered, on a bier, to
be buried in the family vault; that if she could put off

34 Tales firnm Shakseare.
womanish fear, and consent to this terrible trial, in forty-
two hours after swallowing the liquid (such was its certain
operation) she would be sure to awake, as from a dream;
and before she should awake, he would let her husband know
their drift, and he should come in the night, and bear her
thence to Mantua. Love, and the dread of marrying Paris,
gave young Juliet strength to undertake this horrible adven-
ture; and she took the phial of the friar, promising to
observe his directions.
Going from the monastery, she met the young count Paris,
and modestly dissembling, promised to become his bride. This
was joyful news to the lord Capulet and his wife. It seemed
to put youth into the old man; and Juliet, who had displeased
him exceedingly by her refusal of the count, was his darling
again, now she promised to be obedient. All things in the
house were in a bustle against the approaching nuptials. No
cost was spared to prepare such festival rejoicings, as Verona
had never before witnessed.
On the Wednesday night Juliet drank off the potion. She
had many misgivings, lest the friar, to avoid the blame which
might be imputed to him for marrying her to Romeo,
had given her poison; but then he was always known for a
holy man : then lest she should awake before the time that
Romeo was to come for her; whether the terror of the place,
a vault full of dead Capulets' bones, and where Tybalt, all
bloody, lay festering in his shroud, would not be enough
to drive her'distracted: again she thought of all the stories
she had heard of spirits haunting the places where their bodies
were bestowed. But then her love for Romeo, and her aversion
for Paris, returned, and she desperately swallowed the draught,
and became insensible.
When young Paris came early in the morning with music,
to awaken his bride, instead of a living Juliet, her chamber
presented the dreary spectacle of a lifeless corse. What
death to his hopes What confusion then reigned through
the whole house! Poor Paris lamenting his bride, whom
most detestable death had beguiled him of, had divorced
from him even before their hands were joined. But still more
piteous it was to hear the mourning of the old lord and lady

Romeo and Juliet. 35
Capulet, who having but this one, one poor loving child to
rejoice and solace in, cruel death had snatched her from their
sight, just as these careful parents were on the point of seeing
her advanced (as they thought) by a promising and advan-
tageous match. Now all things that were ordained for the
festival were turned from their properties to do the office of
a black funeral. The wedding cheer served for a sad burial
feast, the bridal hymns were changed to sullen dirges; the
sprightly instruments to melancholy bells, and the flowers
that should have been strewed in the bride's path, now served
but to strew her corse. Now instead of a priest to marry her,
a priest was needed to bury her ; and she was borne to church
indeed not to augment the cheerful hopes of the living, but
to swell the dreary numbers of the dead.
Bad news, which always travels faster than good, now
brought the dismal story of his Juliet's death to Romeo at
Mantua, before the messenger could arrive, who was sent from
friar Lawrence to apprise him that these were mock funerals
only, and but the shadow and representation of death, and
that his dear lady lay in the tomb but for a short while,
expecting when Romeo should'come to release her from that
dreary mansion. Just before, Romeo had been unusually
joyful and lighthearted. He had dreamed in the night that
he was dead (a strange dream, that gave a dead man leave to
think), and that his lady came and found him dead, and
breathed such life with kisses in his lips, that he revived, and
was an emperor! And now that a messenger came from
Verona, he thought surely it was to confirm some good news
which his dreams had presaged. But when the contrary to
this flattering vision appeared, and that itwas his ladywhowas
dead in truth, whom he could not revive by any kisses, he
ordered horses to be got ready, for he determined that night
to visit Verona, and to see his lady in her tomb. And as
mischief is swift to enter into the thoughts of desperate men,
he called to mind a poor apothecary, whose shop in Mantua
-lie had lately passed, and from the beggarly appearance of the
man, who seemed famished, and the wretched show in his
shop of empty boxes ranged on dirty shelves, and other tokens
of extreme wretchedness, he had said at the time (perhaps

36 Tales from Slaksfeare.
having some misgivings that his own disastrous life might
haply meet with a conclusion so desperate), "If a man were
to need poison, which by the law of Mantua it is death to
sell, here lives a poor wretch who would sell it him." These
words of his now came into his mind, and he sought out the
apothecary, who after some pretended scruples, Romeo
offering him gold which his poverty could not resist, sold him
a poison, which if he swallowed, he told him, if he had the
strength of twenty men, would quickly despatch him.
With this poison he set out for Verona, to have a sight of
his dear lady in her tomb, meaning, when he had satisfied his
sight, to swallow the poison, and be buried by her side. He
reached Verona at midnight, and found the churchyard, in
the midst of which was situated the ancient tomb of the
Capulets. He had provided a light, and a spade, and
wrenching iron, and was proceeding to break open the
monument, when he was interrupted by a voice, which by
the name of vile Montague, bade him desist from his unlaw-
ful business. It was the young count Paris, who had come
to the tomb of Juliet at that unseasonable time of the night,
to strew flowers, and to weep over the grave of her that should
have been his bride. He knew not what an interest Romeo
had in the dead, but knowing him to be a Montague, and
(as he supposed) a sworn foe to all the Capulets, he judged
that he was come by night to do some villanous shame to the
dead bodies; therefore in angry tone he bade him desist; and
as a criminal, condemned by the laws of Verona to die if he
were found within the walls of the city, he would have
apprehended him. Romeo urged Paris to leave him, and
warned him by the fate of Tybalt, who lay buried there, not
to provoke his anger, or draw down another sin upon his
head, by forcing him to kill him. But the count in scorn
refused his warning, and laid hands on him as a felon, which
Romeo resisting, they fought, and Paris fell. When Romeo,
by the help of a light, came to see who it was that he had
slain, that it was Paris, who (he learned in his way from
Mantua) should have married Juliet, he took the dead youth
by the hand, as one whom misfortune had made a companion,
and said that he would bury him in a triumphal grave,

Romeo and duie&t. 37
meaning in Juliet's- grave, which he now opened: and
there lay his lady, as one whom death had no power upon to
change a feature or complexion in her matchless beauty, or
as if Death were amorous, and the lean abhorred monster
kept her there for his delight; for she lay yet fresh and
blooming, as she had fallen to sleep when she swallowed that
benumbing potion: and near her lay Tybalt in his bloody
shroud, whom Romeo seeing, begged pardon of his lifeless
corse, and for Juliet's sake called him cousin, and said that
he was about to do him a favour by putting his enemy to
death. Here Romeo took his last leave of his lady's lips,
kissing them; and here he shook the burden of his cross stars
from his weary body, swallowing that poison which the
apothecary had sold him, whose operation was fatal and real,
not like that dissembling potion which Juliet had swallowed,
the effect of which was now nearly expiring, and she about to
awake to complain that Romeo had not kept his time, or that
he had come too soon.
For now the hour was arrived at which the friar had
promised that she should awake ; and he having learned that
his letters which he had sent to Mantua, by some unlucky
detention of the messenger, had never reached Romeo, came
himself, provided with a pickaxe and lantern, to deliver the
lady from her confinement; but he was surprised to find a
light already burning in the Capulets' monument, and to
see swords and blood near it, and Romeo and Paris lying
breathless by the monument.
Before he could entertain a conjecture, to imagine how
these fatal accidents had fallen out, Juliet awoke out of her
trance, and seeing the friar near her, she remembered the
place where she was, and the occasion of her being there,
and asked for Romeo : but the friar, hearing a noise, bade
her come out of that place of death, and of unnatural.sleep,
for a greater power than they could contradict had thwarted
their intents; and being frighted by the noise of people
coming, he fled; but when Juliet saw the cup closed in her
true love's hands, she guessed that poison had been the cause
of his end, and she would have swallowed the dregs if any
had been left, and she kissed his still warm lips to try if any

3'8 Tales from Shakspeare.
poison yet did hang upon them: then hearing a nearer noise
of people coming, she quickly unsheathed a dagger which
she wore, and stabbing herself, died by her true Romeo's
The watch by this time had come up to the place. A
page belonging to count Paris, who had witnessed the fight
between his master and Romeo, had given the alarm, which
had spread among the citizens, who went up and down the
streets of Verona confusedly, exclaiming, a Paris, a Romeo,
a Juliet, as the rumour had imperfectly reached them, till
the uproar brought lord Montague and lord Capulet out
of their beds, with the prince, to inquire into the causes of
the disturbance. The friar had been apprehended by some
of the watch, coming from the churchyard, trembling, sighing
and weeping, in a suspicious manner. A great multitude
being assembled at the Capulets' monument, the friar was
demanded by the prince to deliver what he knew of these
strange and disastrous accidents.
And there, in the presence of the old lords Montague and
Capulet, he faithfully related the story of their children's
fatal love, the part he took in promoting their marriage, in
the hope in that union to end the long quarrels between
their families': how Romeo, there dead, was husband to
Juliet; and Juliet, there dead, was Romeo's faithful wife :
how before he could find a fit opportunity to divulge their
marriage, another match was projected for Juliet, who to
avoid the crime of a second marriage swallowed the sleeping
draught (as he advised), and all thought her dead : how
meantime he wrote to Romeo, to come and take her thence
when the force of the potion should cease, and by what
unfortunate miscarriage of the messenger the letters never
reached Romeo: further than this the friar could not follow
the story, nor knew more than that, coming himself to
deliver Juliet from that place of death, he found the count
Paris and Romeo slain. The remainder of the transactions
was supplied by the narration of the page who had seen
Paris and Romeo fight, and by the servant who came with
Romeo to Verona, to whom this faithful lover had given
letters to be delivered to his father in the event of his death,

Romeo and Juliet. 39
which made good the friar's words, confessing his marriage
with Juliet, imploring the forgiveness of his parents, ac-
knowledging the buying of the poison of the poor apothecary,
and his intent in coming to the monument, to die, and lie
with Juliet. All these circumstances agreed together to clear
the friar from any hand he could be supposed to have had
in these complicated slaughters, further than as the unintended
consequences of his own well-meant, yet too artificial and
subtle, contrivances.
And the prince, turning to these old lords, Montague and
Capulet, rebuked them for their brutal and irrational
enmities, and showed them what a scourge heaven had laid
upon such offences, that it had found means even through
the love of their children to punish their unnatural hate.
And these old rivals, no longer enemies, agreed to bury their
long strife in their children's graves; and lord Capulet
requested lord Montague to give him his hand, calling him
by the name of brother, as if in acknowledgment of the
union of their families by the marriage of the young Capulet
and Montague; and saying that lord Montague's hand (in
token of reconcilement) was all he demanded for his
daughter's jointure : but lord Montague said he would give
him more, for he would raise her statue of pure gold, that
while Verona kept its name, no figure should be so esteemed
for its richness and workmanship as that of the true and
faithful Juliet. And lord Capulet in return said, that he
would raise another statue to Romeo. So did these poor old
lords, when it was too late, strive to outgo each other in
mutual courtesies : while so deadly had been their rage and
enmity in past times, that nothing but the fearful overthrow
of their children (poor sacrifices to their quarrels and
dissensions) could remove the rooted hates and jealousies of
the noble families.

40 Tales from Shakspeare.


LEAR, king of Britain, had three daughters; Goneril,
wife to the duke of Albany; Regan, wife to the duke of
Cornwall; and Cordelia, a young maid, for whose love the
king of France and duke of Burgundy were joint suitors, and
were at this time making stay for that purpose in the court
of Lear.
The old king, worn out with age and the fatigues of
government, he being more than fourscore years old, deter-
mined to take no further part in state affairs, but to leave
the management to younger strengths, that he might have
time to prepare for death, which must at no long period
ensue. With this intent he called his three daughters to
him, to know from their own lips which of them loved him
best, that he might part his kingdom among them in such
proportions as their affection for him should seem to deserve.
Goneril, the eldest, declared that she loved her father
more than words could give out, that he was dearer to her
than the light of her own eyes. dearer than life and liberty,
with a. deal of such professing stuff, which is easy to counter-
feit where there is no real love, only a few fine words
delivered with confidence being wanted in that case. The
king, delighted to hear from her own mouth this assurance
of her love, and thinking truly that her heart went with it,
in a fit of fatherly fondness bestowed upon her and her
husband one-third of his ample kingdom.
Then calling to him his second daughter, he demanded
what she had to say. Regan, who was made of the same
hollow metal as her sister, was not a whit behind in her
professions, but rather declared that what her sister had
spoken came short of the love which she professed to bear

Kinzg Lear. 41
for his highness : insomuch that she found all other joys
dead, in comparison with the pleasure which she took in the
love of her dear king and father.
Lear blessed himself in having such loving children, as he
thought: and could do no less, after the handsome assurances
which Regan had made, than bestow a third of his kingdom
upon her and her husband, equal in size to that which he
had already given away to Goneril.
Then turning to his youngest daughter Cordelia, whom he
called his joy, he asked what she had to say; thinking, no
doubt, that she would glad his ears with the same loving
speeches which her sisters had uttered, or rather that her
expressions would be so much stronger than theirs, as she
had always been his darling, and favoured by him above
either of them. But Cordelia, disgusted with the flattery
of her sisters, whose hearts she knew were far from their lips,
and seeing that all their coaxing speeches were only intended
to wheedle the old king out of his dominions, that they and
their husbands might reign in his lifetime, made no other
reply but this, that she loved his majesty according to her
duty, neither more nor less.
The king, shocked with this appearance of ingratitude in
his favourite child, desired her to consider her words, and to
mend her speech, lest it should mar her fortunes.
Cordelia then told her father, that he was her father, that
he had given her breeding, and loved her, that she returned
those duties back as was most fit, and did obey him, love him,
and most honour hini. But that she could not frame her
mouth to such large speeches as her sisters had done, or
promise to love nothing else in the world. Why had her
sisters husbands, if (as they said) they had no love for any-
thing but their father ? If she should ever wed, she was sure
the lord to whom she gave her hand would want half her love,
half her care and duty; she should never marry like her
sisters, to love her father all.
Cordelia, who in earnest loved her old father even almost
as extravagantly as her sisters pretended to do, would have
plainly told him so at any other time, in more daughter-like
and loving terms, and without these qualifications which did

42 Tales from Shakspeare.
indeed sound a little ungracious : but after the crafty flatter-
ing speeches of her sisters, which she had seen draw such
extravagant rewards, she thought the handsomest thing
she could do was to love and be silent. This put her
affection out of suspicion of mercenary ends, and showed that
she loved, but not for gain; and that her professions, the less
ostentatious they were, had so much the more of truth and
sincerity than her sisters'.
This plainness of speech, which Lear called pride, so enraged
the old monarch-who in his best of times always showed
much of spleen and rashness, and in whom the dotage inci-
dent to old age had so clouded over his reason, that he could
not discern truth from flattery, nor a gay painted speech from
words that came from the heart-that in a fury of resentment
he retracted the third part of his kingdom which yet remained,
and which he had reserved for Cordelia, and gave it away
from hersharing it equally between her two sisters and their
husbands, the dukes of Albany and Cornwall: whom he now
called to him, and in presence of all his courtiers, bestowing
a coronet between them, invested them jointly with all the
power, revenue, and execution of government, only retaining
to himself the name of king; all the rest of royalty he
resigned: with this reservation, that himself, with a hundred
knights for his attendants, was to be maintained by monthly
course in each of his daughter's palaces in turn.
So preposterous a disposal of his kingdom, so little guided
by reason, and so much by passion, filled all his courtiers with
astonishment and sorrow; but none of them had the courage
to interpose between this incensed king and his wrath, except
the earl of Kent, who was beginning to speak a good word for
Cordelia, when the passionate Lear on pain of death com-
manded him to desist: but the good Kent was not so to be
repelled. He had been ever loyal to Lear, whom he had
honoured as a king, loved as a father, followed as a master :
and had never esteemed his life further than as a pawn to
wage against his royal master's enemies, nor feared to lose it
when Lear's safety was the motive : nor now that Lear was
most his own enemy, did this faithful servant of the king
forget his old principles, but manfully opposed Lear, to do

King Lear. 43
Lear good; and was unmannerly only because Lear was mad.
He had been a most faithful counsellor, in times past, to the
king, and he besought him now, that he would see with his
eyes (as he had done in many weighty matters), and go by his
advice still; and in his best consideration recall this hideous
rashness: for he would answer with his life, his judgment,
that Lear's youngest daughter did not love him least, nor were
those empty-hearted whose low sound gave no token of
hollowness. When power bowed to flattery, honour was
bound to plainness. For Lear's threats, what could he do to
him, whose life was already at his service 1 That should not
hinder duty from speaking.
The honest freedom of this good earl of Kent only stirred
up the king's wrath the more, and like a frantic patient who
kills his physician, and loves his mortal disease, he banished
this true servant, and allotted him but five days to make his
preparations for departure; but if on the sixth his hated
person was found within the realm of Britain, that moment
was to be his death. And Kent bade farewell to the king,
and said, that since he chose to show himself in such fashion,
it was but banishment to stay there; and before he went, he
recommended Cordelia to the protection of the gods, the maid
who had so rightly thought, and so discreetly spoken; and
only wished that her sisters' large speeches might be answered
with deeds of love : and then he went, as he said, to shape
his old course to a new country.
The king of France and duke of Burgundy were now called
in to hear the determination of Lear about his youngest
daughter, and to know whether they would persist in their
courtship to Cordelia, now that she was under her father's
displeasure, and had no fortune but her own person to recom-
mend her; and the duke of Burgundy declined the match,
and would not take her to wife upon such conditions : but
the king of France, understanding what the nature of the
fault had, been which had lost her the love of her father, that
it was only a tardiness of speech, and the not being able to
frame her tongue to flattery like her sisters, took this young
maid by the hand, and saying that her virtues were a dowry
above a kingdom, bade Cordelia to take farewell of her

44 Tales from Shakspeare.
sisters, and of her father, though he had been unkind, and
she should go with him, and be queen of him and of fair
France, and reign over fairer possessions than her sisters :
and he called the duke of Burgundy in contempt a waterish
duke, because his love for this young maid had in a moment
run all away like water.
Then Cordelia with weeping eyes took leave of her sisters,
and besought them to love their father well, and make good
their professions; and they sullenly told her not to prescribe
to them, for they knew their duty; but to strive to content
her husband, who had taken her (as they tauntingly expressed
it) as Fortune's alms. And Cordelia with a heavy heart
departed, for she knew the cunning of her sisters, and she
wished her father in better hands than she was about to
leave him in.
Cordelia was no sooner gone, than the devilish disposition
of her sisters began to show themselves in their true colours.
Even before the expiration of the first month, which Lear
was to spend by agreement with his eldest daughter Goneril,
the old king began to find out the difference between promises
and performances. This wretch having got from her father
all that he had to bestow, even to the giving away of the
crown from off his head, began to grudge even those small
remnants of royalty which the old man had reserved to him-
self, to please his fancy with the idea of being still a king.
She could not bear to see him and his hundred knights.
Every time she met her father she put on a frowning
countenance; and when the old man wanted to speak with
her, she would feign sickness, or anything to be rid of the
sight of him; for it was plain that she esteemed his old age
a useless burden, and his attendants an unnecessary expense :
not only she herself slackened in her expressions of duty to
the king, but by her example, and (it is to be feared) not
without her private instructions, her very servants affected
to treat him with neglect, and would either refuse to obey
his orders, or still more contemptuously pretend not to hear
them. Lear could not but perceive this alteration in the
behaviour of his daughter, but he shut his eyes against it
as long as he could, as people commonly are unwilling to

King Lear. 45
believe the unpleasant consequences which their own mis-
takes and obstinacy have brought upon them.
True love and fidelity are no more to be estranged by ill,
than falsehood and hollow-heartedness can be conciliated by
good usage. This eminently appears in the instance of the
good earl of Kent, who, though banished by Lear, and his
life made forfeit if he were found in Britain, chose to stay
and abide all consequences, as long as there was a chance of
his being useful to the king his master. See to what mean
shifts and disguises poor loyalty is forced to submit some-
times ; yet it counts nothing base or unworthy, so as it can
but do service where it owes an obligation In the disguise
of a serving-man, all his greatness and pomp laid aside, this
good earl proffered his services to the king, who not knowing
him to be Kent in that disguise, but pleased with a certain
plainness, or rather bluntness, in his answers which the earl
put on (so different from that smooth oily flattery which he
had so much reason to be sick of, having found the effects
not answerable in his daughter), a bargain was quickly
struck, and Lear took Kent into his service by the name of
Caius, as he called himself, never suspecting him to be his
once great favourite, the high and mighty earl of Kent.
This Caius quickly found means to show his fidelity and
love to his royal master; for Goneril's steward that same
day behaving in a disrespectful manner to Lear, and giving
him saucy looks and language, as no doubt he was secretly
encouraged to do by his mistress, Caius not enduring to hear
so open an affront put upon majesty, made no more ado but
presently tripped'up his heels, and laid the unmannerly slave
in the kennel, for which friendly service Lear became more
and more attached to him.
Nor was Kent the only friend Lear had. In his degree,
and as far as so insignificant a personage could show his love,
the poor fool, or jester, that had been of his palace while
Lear had a palace, as it was the custom of kings and great
personages at that time to keep a fool (as he was called) to
make them sport after serious business : this poor fool clung
to Lear after he had given away his crown, and by his witty
sayings would keep up his good humour, though he could

46 Tales from Shakspeare.
not refrain sometimes from jeering at his master, for his
imprudence, in uncrowning himself, and giving all away to
his daughters : at which time, as he rhymingly expressed it,
these daughters
For sudden joy did weep,
And he for sorrow sung,
That such a king should play bo-pcep,
And go the fools among'.

And in such wild sayings and scraps of songs, of which
he had plenty, this pleasant honest fool poured out his heart
even in the presence of Goneril herself, in many a bitter
taunt and jest which cut to the quick: such as comparing
the king to the hedge-sparrow, who feeds the young of the
cuckoo till they grow old enough, and then has its head bit
off for its pains : and saying, that an ass may know when
the cart draws the horse (meaning that Lear's daughters,
that ought to go behind, now ranked before their father);
and that Lear was no longer Lear, but the shadow of Lear:
for which free speeches he was once or twice threatened to
be whipped.
The coolness and falling off of respect which Lear had
begun to perceive, were not all which this foolish fond father
was to suffer from his unworthy daughter: she now plainly
told him that his staying in her palace was inconvenient so
long as he insisted upon keeping up an establishment of a
hundred knights : that this establishment was useless and
expensive, and only served to fill her court with riot and
feastings; and she prayed him that he would lessen their
number, and keep none but old men about him, such as
himself, and fitting his age.
Lear at first could not believe his eyes or ears, nor that it
was his daughter who spoke so unkindly. He could not
believe that she who had received a crown from him could
seek to cut off his train, and grudge him the respect due to
his old age. But she persisting in her undutiful demand, the
old man's rage was so excited, that he called her a detested
kite, and said that she had spoke an untruth: and so indeed
she did, for the hundred knights were all men of choice

King Lear. 47
behaviour and sobriety of manners, skilled in all particulars
of duty, and not given to rioting and feasting as she said.
And he bid his horses to be prepared, for he would go to his
other daughter, Regan, he and his hundred knights : and
he spoke of ingratitude, and said it was a marble-hearted
devil, and showed more hideous in a child than the sea-
monster. And he cursed his eldest daughter Goneril so as
was terrible to hear: praying that she might never have a
child, or if she had, that it might live to return that scorn
and contempt upon her, which she had shown to him: that
she might feel how sharper than a serpent's tooth it was to
have a thankless child. And Goneril's husband, the duke
of Albany, beginning to excuse himself for any share which
Lear might suppose he had in the unkindness, Lear would
not hear him out, but in a rage ordered his horses to be
saddled, and set out with his followers for the abode of Regan,
his other daughter. And Lear thought to himself how small
the fault of Cordelia (if it was a fault) now appeared, in
comparison with her sister's, and he wept; and then he was
ashamed that such a creature as Goneril should have so
much power over his manhood as to make him weep.
Regan and her husband were keeping their court in great
pomp and state at their palace : and Lear despatched his
servant Caius with letters to his daughter, that she might be
prepared for his reception, while he and his train followed
after. But it seems that Goneril had been beforehand with
him, sending letters also to Regan, accusing her father of
waywardness and ill humours, and advising her not to
receive so great a train as he was bringing with him. This
messenger arrived at the same time with Caius, and Cains
and he met : and who should it be but Caius's old enemy the
steward, whom he had formerly tripped up by the heels for
his saucy behaviour to Lear. Caius not liking the fellow's
look, and suspecting what he came for, began to revile him,
and challenged him to fight, which the fellow refusing, Caius,
in a fit of honest passion, beat him soundly, as such a
mischief-maker and carrier of wicked messages deserved:
which coming to the ears of Regan and her husband, they
ordered Caius to be put in the stocks, though he was a

48 Tales from Shakspeare.
messenger from the king her father, and in that character
demanded the highest respect: so that the first thing the
king saw when he entered the castle, was his faithful servant
Caius sitting in that disgraceful situation.
This was but a bad omen of the reception which he was
to expect; but a worse followed, when upon inquiry for his
daughter and her husband, he was told they were weary
with travelling all night, and could not see him: and when
lastly, upon his insisting in a positive and angry manner to
see them, they came to greet him, whom should he see in
their company but the hated Goneril, who had come to
tell her own story, and set her sister against the king her
father !
This sight much moved the old man, and still more to see
Regan take her by the hand: and he asked Goneril if she
was not ashamed to look upon his old white beard. And
Regan advised him to go home again with Goneril and live
with her peaceably, dismissing half of his attendants, and to
ask her forgiveness; for lie was old and wanted discretion,
and must be ruled and led by persons that had more dis-
cretion than himself. And Lear showed how preposterous
that would sound, if he were to down on his knees, and beg
of his own daughter for food and raiment, and he argued
against such an unnatural dependence, declaring his resolu-
tion never to return with her, but to stay where he was with
Regan, he and his hundred knights: for he said that she
had not forgot the half of the kingdom which he had endowed
her with, and that her eyes were not fierce like Goneril's,
but mild and kind. And he said that rather than return to
Goneril with half his train cut off, he would go over to
France, and beg a wretched pension of the king there, who
had married his youngest daughter without a portion.
But he was mistaken in expecting kinder treatment of
Regan than he had experienced from her sister Goneril. As if
willing to outdo her sister in unfilial behaviour, she declared
that she thought fifty knights too many to wait upon him:
that five-and-twenty were enough. Then Lear, nigh heart-
broken, turned to Goneril, and said that he would go back
with her, for her fifty doubled five-and-twenty, and so her

King Lear. 49
love was twice as much as Regan's. But Goneril excused
herself, and said, what need of so many as five-and-twenty 1
or even ten ? or five 1 when he might be waited upon by her
servants or her sister's servants ? So these two wicked
daughters, as if they strove to exceed each other in cruelty
to their old father who had been so good to them, by little
and little would have abated him of all his train, all respect
(little enough for him that once commanded a kingdom),
which was left him to show that he had once been a king !
Not that a splendid train is essential to happiness, but from
a king to a beggar is a hard change, from- commanding
millions to be without one attendant; and it was the in-
gratitude in his daughters denying it, more than what he
would suffer by the want of it, which pierced this poor old
king to the heart: insomuch that with this double ill usage,
and vexation for having so foolishly given away a kingdom,
his wits began to be unsettled, and while he said he knew
not what, he vowed revenge against those unnatural hags,
and to make examples of them that should be a terror to the
earth !
While he was thus idly threatening what his weak arm
could never execute, night came on, and a loud storm of
thunder and lightning with rain; and his daughters still
persisting in their resolution not to admit his followers, he
called for his horses, and chose rather to encounter the
utmost fury of the storm abroad, than stay under the same
roof with these ungrateful daughters : and they, saying that
the injuries which wilful men procure to themselves are
their just punishment, suffered him to go in that condition,
and shut their doors upon him.
The winds were high, and the rain and storm increased,
when the old man sallied forth to combat with the elements,
less sharp than his daughters' unkindness. For many miles
about there was scarce a bush; and there upon a heath, ex-
posed to the fury of the storm in a dark night, did king
Lear wander out, and defy the winds and the thunder : and
he bid the winds to blow the earth into the sea, or swell the
waves of the sea, till they drowned the earth, that no token
might remain of any such ungrateful animal as man. The

50 Tales from Shaksyeare.
old king was now left with no other companion than the
poor fool, who still abided with him, with his merry conceits
striving to outjest misfortune, saying, it was but a naughty
night to swim in, and truly the king had better go in and
ask his daughter's blessing:
But he that has a little tiny wit,
With high ho, the wind and the rain!
Must make content with his fortunes fit,
Though the rain it raineth every day:
and swearing it was a brave night to cool a lady's pride.
Thus poorly accompanied, this once great monarch was
found by his ever-faithful servant the good earl of Kent,
now transformed to Caius, who ever followed close at his
side, though the king did not know him to be the earl; and
he said, "Alas sir, are you here 1 creatures that love night
love not such nights as these. This dreadful storm has
driven the beasts to their hiding-places. Man's nature can-
not endure the affliction or the fear." And Lear rebuked
him and said, these lesser evils were not felt, where a greater
malady was fixed. When the mind is at ease, the body has
leisure to be delicate; but the tempest in his mind did take
all feeling else from his senses, but of that which beat at his
heart. And he spoke of filial ingratitude, and said it was
all one as if the mouth should tear the hand for lifting food
to it; for parents were hands and food and everything to
But the good Caius still persisting in his entreaties that
the king would not stay out in the open air, at last persuaded
him to enter a little wretched hovel which stood upon the
heath, where the fool first entering, suddenly ran back terri-
fied, saying that he had seen a spirit. But upon examination
this spirit proved to be nothing more than a poor Bedlam
beggar, who had crept into this deserted hovel for shelter,
and with his talk about devils frightened the fool, one of
those poor lunatics who are either mad, or feign to be so, the
better to extort charity from the compassionate country
people, who go about the country, calling themselves poor
Tom and poor Turlygood, saying, Who gives anything to
poor Tom 1" sticking pins and nails and sprigs of rosemary

Iing Lear. 5
into their arms to make them bleed ; and with such horrible
actions, partly by prayers, and partly with lunatic curses,
they move or terrify the ignorant country-folks into giving
them alms. This poor fellow was such a one ; and the king
seeing him in so wretched a plight, with nothing but a
blanket about his loins to cover his nakedness, could not be
persuaded but that the fellow was some father who had
given all away to his daughters, and brought himself to that
pass; for nothing he thought could bring a man to such
wretchedness but the having unkind daughters.
And from this and many such wild speeches which he
uttered, the good Caius plainly perceived that he was not in
his perfect mind, but that his daughters' ill usage had really
made him go mad. And now the loyalty of this worthy earl of
Kent showed itself in more essential services than he had
hitherto found opportunity to perform. For with the assist-
ance of some of the king's attendants, who remained loyal,
he had the person of his royal master removed at daybreak
to the castle of Dover, where his own friends and influence,
as earl of Kent, chiefly lay: and himself embarking for
France, hastened to the court of Cordelia, and did there in
such moving terms represent the pitiful condition of her
royal father, and set out in such lively colours the inhumanity
of her sisters, that this good and loving child, with many
tears besought the king her husband, that he would give her
leave to embark for England with a sufficient power to sub-
due these daughters and their husbands, and restore the
king her father to his throne; which being granted, she
set forth, and with a royal army landed at Dover.
Lear having by some chance escaped from the guardians
which the good earl of Kent had put over him to take care
of him in his lunacy, was found by some of Cordelia's train,
wandering about the fields near Dover, in a pitiable con-
dition, stark mad and singing aloud to himself, with a crown
upon his head which he had made of straw, and nettles, and
other wild weeds that he had picked up in the corn-fields.
By the advice of the physicians, Cordelia, though earnestly
desirous of seeing her father, was prevailed upon to put off
the meeting, till, by sleep and the operation of herbs which

52 Tales from Shakspeare.
they gave him, he should be restored to greater composure.
By the aid of these skilful physicians, to whom Cordelia
promised all her gold and jewels for the recovery of the old
king, Lear was soon in a condition to see his daughter.
A tender sight it was to see the meeting between this
father and daughter: to see the struggles between the joy of
this poor old king at beholding again his once darling child,
and the shame at receiving such filial kindness from her
whom he had cast off for so small a fault in his displeasure ;
both these passions struggling with the remains of his
malady, which in his half-crazed brain sometimes made him
that he scarce remembered where he was, or who it was that
so kindly kissed and spoke to him: and then he would beg
the standers-by not to laugh at him, if he were mistaken in
thinking this lady to be his daughter Cordelia And then
to see him fall on his knees to beg pardon of his child; and
she, good lady, kneeling all the while to ask a blessing of
him, and telling him that it did not become him to kneel,
but it was her duty, for she was his child, his true and very
child Cordelia And she kissed him (as she said) to kiss
away all her sisters' unkindness, and said that they might
be ashamed of themselves, to turn their old kind father
with his white beard out into the cold air, when her enemy's
dog, though it had bit her (as she prettily expressed it),
should have stayed by her fire such a night as that, and
warmed himself. And she told her father how she had come
from France with purpose to bring him assistance ; and lie
said, that she must forget and forgive, for he was old and
foolish, and did not know what he did; but that to be sure
she had great cause not to love him, but her sisters had
none. And Cordelia said, that she had no cause, no more
than they had.
So we will leave this old king in the protection of this
dutiful and loving child, where, by the help of sleep and.
medicine, she and her physicians at length succeeded in
winding up the untuned and jarring senses which the cruelty
of his other daughters had so violently shaken. Let us re-
turn to say a word or two about those cruel daughters.
These monsters of ingratitude, who had been so false to

q," '`
.- 4q.

,i '"

54 Tales firom Shakspeare.
their own father, could not be expected to prove more faith-
ful to their own husbands. They soon grew tired of paying
even the appearance of duty and affection, and in an open
way showed they had fixed their loves upon another. It
happened that the object of their guilty loves was the same.
It was Edmund, a natural son of the late earl of Gloucester,
who by his treacheries had succeeded in disinheriting his
brother Edgar, the lawful heir, from his earldom, and by
his wicked practices was now earl himself : a wicked man,
and a fit object for the love of such wicked creatures as
Goneril and Regan. It falling out about this time that
the duke of Cornwall, Regan's husband, died, Regan im-
mediately declared her intention of wedding this earl of
Gloucester, which rousing the jealousy of her sister, to
whom as well as to Regan this wicked earl had at sundry
times professed love, Goneril found means to make away
with her sister by poison : but being detected in her prac-
tices and imprisoned by her husband the duke of Albany
for this deed, and for her guilty passion for the earl which
had come to his ears, she, in a fit of disappointed love and
rage, shortly put an end to her own life. Thus the justice
of Heaven at last overtook these wicked daughters.
While the eyes of all men were upon this event, admiring
the justice displayed in their deserved deaths, the same eyes
were suddenly taken off from this sight to admire at the
mysterious ways of the same power in the melancholy fate
of the young and virtuous daughter, the lady Cordelia,
whose good deeds did seem to deserve a more fortunate con-
clusion: but it is an awful truth, that innocence and piety
are not always successful in this world. The forces which
Goneril and Regan had sent out under the command of the
bad earl of Gloucester were victorious, and Cordelia, by the
practices of this wicked earl, who did not like that any
should stand between him and the throne, ended her life in
prison. Thus Heaven took this innocent lady to itself in
her young years, after showing her to the world an illus-
trious example of filial duty. Lear did not long survive
this kind child.
Before he died, the good earl of Kent, who had still at-

Iing Lear. 55
tended his old master's steps from the first of his daughters'
ill usage to this sad period of his decay, tried to make him
understand that it was he who had followed him under the
name of Caius; but Lear's care-crazed brain at that time
could not comprehend how that could be, or how Kent and
Caius could be the same person: so Kent thought it needless
to trouble him with explanations at such a time; and Lear
soon after expiring, this faithful servant to the king, between
age and grief for his old master's vexations, soon followed
him to the grave.
How the judgment of Heaven overtook the bad earl of
Gloucester, whose reasons were discovered, and himself
slain in single combat with his brother the lawful earl; and
how Goneril's husband, the duke of Albany, who was
innocent of the death of Cordelia, and had never encouraged
his lady in her wicked proceedings against her father,
ascended the throne of Britain after the death of Lear, is
needless here to narrate; Lear and his Three Daughters
being dead, whose adventures alone concern our story.

56 Tales from Shakspeare.


BRABANTIO, the rich senator of Venice, had a fair daughter
the gentle Desdemona. She was sought to by divers suitors,
both on account of her many virtuous qualities and for her
rich expectations. But among the suitors of her own clime
and complexion she saw none whom she could affect: for
this noble lady, who regarded the mind more than the
features of men, with a singularity rather to be admired
than imitated, had chosen for the object of her affections, a
Moor, a black, whom her father loved, and often invited to
his house.
Neither is Desdemona'to be altogether condemned for the
unsuitableness of the person whom she selected for her lover.
Bating that Othello was black, the noble Moor wanted
nothing which might recommend him to the affections of the
greatest lady. He was a soldier, and a brave one; and by
his conduct in bloody wars against the Turks had risen to
the rank of general in the Venetian service, and was esteemed
and trusted by the state.
He had been a traveller, and Desdemona (as is. the manner
of ladies) loved to hear him tell the story of his adventures,
which he would run through from his earliest recollection;
the battles, sieges, and encounters which he had passed
through; the perils he had been exposed to by land and by
water; his hair-breadth escapes when he had entered a
breach, or marched up to the mouth of a cannon; and how
he had been taken prisoner by the insolent enemy, and sold
to slavery: how he demeaned himself in that state, and how
he escaped: all these accounts, added to the narration of
the strange things he had seen in foreign countries, the vast
wildernesses and romantic caverns, the quarries, the rocks

Othello. 57
and mountains, whose heads are in the clouds; of the savage
nations, the cannibals who are man-eaters, and a race of
people in Africa whose heads do grow beneath their shoul-
ders : these travellers' stories would so enchain the attention
of Desdemona, that if she were called off at any time by
household affairs, she would despatch with all haste that
business, and return, and with a greedy ear devour Othello's
discourse. And once he took advantage of a pliant hour,
and drew from her a prayer, that he would tell her the whole
story of his life at large, of which she had heard so much,
but only by parts : to which he consented, and beguiled her
of many a tear, when he spoke of some distressful stroke
which his youth suffered.
His story being done, she gave him for his pains a world
of sighs: she swore a pretty oath, that it was all passing
strange, and pitiful, wondrous pitiful: she wished (she said)
she had not heard it, yet she wished that Heaven had made
her such a man: and then she thanked him, and told him,
if he had a friend who loved her, he had only to teach him
how to tell his story, and that would woo her. Upon this
hint, delivered not with more frankness than modesty,
accompanied with a certain bewitching prettiness, and
blushes, which Othello could not but understand, he spoke
more openly of his love, and in this golden opportunity
gained the consent of the generous lady Desdemona privately
to marry him.
Neither Othello's colour nor his fortune were such that it
could be hoped Brabantio would accept him for a son-in-law.
He had left his daughter free; but he did expect that, as
the manner of noble Venetian ladies was, she would choose
ere long a husband of senatorial rank or expectations: but
in this he was deceived; Desdemona loved the Moor, though
he was black, and devoted her heart and fortunes to his
valiant parts and qualities : so was her heart subdued to an
implicit devotion to the man she had selected for a husband,
that his very colour, which to all but this discerning lady
would have proved an insurmountable objection, was by her
esteemed above all the white skins and clear complexions of
the young Venetian nobility, her suitors.

58 Tales from Shaksfeare.
Their marriage, which, though privately carried, could
not long be kept a secret, came to the ears of the old man,
Brabantio, who appeared in a solemn council of the senate,
as an accuser of the Moor Othello, who by spells and witch-
craft (he maintained) had seduced the affections of the fair
Desdemona to marry him, without the consent of her father,
and against the obligations of hospitality.
At this juncture of time it happened that the state of
Venice had immediate need of the services of Othello, news
having arrived that the Turks with mighty preparation had
fitted out a fleet, which was bending its course to the Island
of Cyprus, with intent to regain that strong post from the
Venetians, who then held it: in this emergency the state
turned its eyes upon Othello, who alone was deemed adequate
to conduct the defence of Cyprus against the Turks. So
that Othello, now summoned before the senate, stood in
their presence at once as a candidate for a great state em-
ployment, and as a culprit, charged with offences which by
the laws of Venice were made capital.
The age and senatorial character of old Brabantio com-
manded a most patient hearing from that grave assembly;
but the incensed father conducted his accusation with so
much intemperance, producing likelihood and allegations
for proofs, that, when Othello was called upon for his de-
fence, he had only to relate a plain tale of the course of his
love; which he did with such an artless eloquence, recount-
ing the whole story of his wooing, as we have related it
above, and delivered his speech with so noble a plainness
(the evidence of truth), that the duke, who sat as chief judge,
could not help confessing, that a tale so told would have won
his daughter too: and the spells and conjurations, which
Othello had used in his courtship, plainly appeared to have
been no more than the honest arts of men in love; and the
only witchcraft which he had used, the faculty of telling a
soft tale to win a lady's ear.
This statement of Othello was confirmed by the testimony
of the lady Desdemona herself, who appeared in court, and
professing a duty to her father for life and education, chal-
lenged leave of him to profess a yet higher duty to her lord

Othello. 59
and husband, even so much as her mother had shown in
preferring him (Brabantio) above her father.
The old senator, unable to maintain his plea, called the*
Moor to him with many expressions of sorrow, and, as an
act of necessity, bestowed upon him his daughter, whom, if
he had been free to withhold her (he told him), he would
with all his heart have kept from him; adding, that he was
glad at soul that he had no other child, for this behaviour of
Desdemona would have taught him to be a tyrant, and hang
clogs on them for her desertion.
This difficulty being got over, Othello, to whom custom
had rendered the hardships of a military life as natural as
food and rest are to other men, readily undertook the man-
agement of the wars in Cyprus: and Desdemona, preferring
the honour of her lord (though with danger) before the in-
dulgence of those idle delights in which new-married people
usually waste their time, cheerfully consented to his going.
No sooner were Othello and his lady landed in Cyprus,
than news arrived, that a desperate tempest had dispersed
the Turkish fleet, and thus the island was secure from any
immediate apprehension of an attack. But the war, which
Othello was to suffer, was now beginning; and the enemies,
which malice stirred up against his innocent lady, proved in
their nature more deadly than strangers or infidels.
Among all the general's friends no one possessed the con-
fidence of Othello more entirely than Cassio. Michael
Cassio was a young soldier, a Florentine, gay, amorous, and
of pleasing address, favourite qualities with women; he was
handsome, and eloquent, and exactly such a person as might
alarm the jealousy of a man advanced in years (as Othello
in some measure was), who had married a young and
beautiful wife; but Othello was as free from jealousy as he
was noble, and as incapable of suspecting, as of doing, a
base action. He had employed this Cassio in his love affair
with Desdemona, and Cassio had been a sort of go-between
in his suit: for Othello, fearing that himself had not those
soft parts of conversation which please ladies, and finding
these qualities in his friend, would often depute Cassio to
go (as he phrased it) a courting for him: such innocent

60 Tales from Shakspeare.
simplicity being an honour rather than a blemish to the
character of the valiant Moor. So that no wonder, if next
to Othello himself (but at far distance, as beseems a virtuous
wife) the gentle Desdemona loved and trusted Cassio. Nor
had the marriage of this couple made any difference in their
behaviour to Michael Cassio. He frequented their house,
and his free and rattling talk was no unpleasing variety to
Othello, who was himself of a more serious temper: for such
tempers are observed often to delight in their contraries, as
a relief from the oppressive excess of their own: and Des-
demona and Cassio would talk and laugh together, as in the
days when he went a courting for his friend.
Othello had lately promoted Cassio to be the lieutenant, a
place of trust, and nearest to the general's person. This
promotion gave great offence to lago, an older officer, who
thought he had a better claim than Cassio, and would often
ridicule Cassio, as a fellow fit only for the company of ladies,
and one that knew no more of the art of war, or how to set
an army in array for battle, than a girl. Iago hated Cassio,
and he hated Othello, as well for favouring Cassio, as for an
unjust suspicion, which he had lightly taken up against
Othello, that the Moor was too fond of lago's wife Emilia.
From these imaginary provocations, the plotting mind of
Iago conceived a horrid scheme of revenge, which should
involve both Cassio, the Moor, and Desdemona in one com-
mon ruin.
Iago was artful, and had studied human nature deeply,
and he knew that of all the torments which afflict the mind
of man (and far beyond bodily torture), the pains of jealousy
were the most intolerable, and had the sorest sting. If he
could succeed in making Othello jealous of Cassio, he
thought it would be an exquisite plot of revenge, and
might end in the death of Cassio or Othello, or both; he
cared not.
The arrival of the general and his lady in Cyprus, meet-
ing with the news of the dispersion of the enemy's fleet,
made a sort of holiday in the island. Everybody gave
themselves up to feasting and making merry. Wine flowed
in abundance, and cups went round to the health of the
black Othello, and his lady the fair Desdemona.

Othello. 61
Cassio had the direction of the guard that night, with a
charge from Othello to keep the soldiers from excess in
drinking, that no brawl might arise, to fright the inhabitants
or disgust them with the new-landed forces. That night
lago began his deep-laid plans of mischief ; under colour of
loyalty and love to the general he enticed Cassio to make
rather too free with the bottle (a great fault in an officer
upon guard). Cassio for a time resisted, but he could not
long hold out against the honest freedom which lago knew
how to put on, but kept swallowing glass after glass (as
Iago still plied him with drink and encouraging songs), and
Cassio's tongue ran over in praise of the lady Desdemona,
whom he again and again toasted, affirming that she was a
most exquisite lady : until at last the enemy which he put
into his mouth, stole away his brains ; and upon some pro-
vocation given him by a fellow whom Iago had set on, swords
were drawn, and Montano, a worthy officer who interfered
to appease the dispute, was wounded in the scuffle. The
riot now began to be general, and Iago, who had set on foot
the mischief, was foremost in spreading the alarm, causing
the castle-bell to be rung as if some dangerous mutiny,
instead of a slight drunken quarrel, had arisen) : the alarm-
bell ringing awakened Othello, who, dressing in a hurry, and
coming to the scene of action, questioned Cassio of the
cause. Cassio was now come to himself, the effect of the
wine having a little gone off, but was too much ashamed to
reply; and Iago, pretending a great reluctance to accuse
Cassio, but as it were forced into it by Othello, who insisted
to know the truth, gave an account of the whole matter
(leaving out his own share in it, which Cassiowas too far
gone to remember) in such a manner, as while he seemed to
make Cassio's offence less, did indeed make it appear greater
than it was. The result was, that Othello, who was a strict
observer of discipline, was compelled to take away Cassio's
place of lieutenant from him.
Thus did Iago's first artifice succeed completely: he had
now undermined his hated rival, and thrust him out of his
place: but a further use was hereafter to be made of the
adventure of this disastrous night.
Cassio, whom this misfortune had entirely sobered, now

62 Tales from Shakspeare.
lamented to his seeming friend lago, that he should have
been such a fool as to transform himself into a beast. He
was undone, for how could he ask the general for his place
again he would tell him he was a drunkard. He despised
himself. Iago, affecting to make light of it, said that he, or
any man living, might be drunk upon occasion; it remained
now to make the best of a bad bargain; the general's wife
was now the general, and could do anything with Othello;
that he were best to apply to the lady Desdemona to mediate
for him with her lord ; that she was of a frank, obliging
disposition, and would readily undertake a good office of this
sort, and set Cassio right again in the general's favour; and
then this crack in their love would be made stronger than
ever. A good advice of lago, if it had not been given for
wicked purposes, which will after appear.
Cassio did as lago advised him, and made application to
the lady Desdemona, who was easy to be own over in any
honest suit; and she promised Cassio, that she would be his
solicitor with her lord, and rather die than give up his cause.
This she immediately set about in so earnest and pretty a
manner, that Othello, who was mortally offended with Cassio,
could not put her off. When he pleaded delay, and that it
was too soon to pardon such an offender, she would not be
beat back, but insisted that it should be the next night, or
the morning after, or the next morning to that at farthest.
Then she showed how penitent and humbled poor Cassio
was, and that his offence did not deserve so sharp a check.
And when Othello still hung back, What my lord," said
she, that I should have so much to do to plead for Cassio,
Michael Cassio, that came a courting for you, and oftentimes,
when I have spoken in dispraise of you, has taken your part?
I count this but a little thing to ask of you. When I mean to
try your love indeed, I shall ask a weighty matter." Othello
could deny nothing to such a pleader, and only requesting
that Desdemona would leave the time to him, promised to
receive Michael Cassio again into favour.
It happened that Othello and lago had entered into the
room where Desdemona was, just as Cassio, who had been
imploring her intercession, was departing at the opposite

Othello. 63
door; and Iago, who was full of art, said in a low voice, as
if to himself, I like not that." Othello took no great notice
of what he said ; indeed the conference which immediately
took place with his lady put it out of his head : but he
remembered it afterwards. For when Desdemona was gone,
lago, as if for mere satisfaction of his thought, questioned
Othello whether Michael Cassio, when Othello-was courting
his lady, knew of his love. To this the general answering in
the affirmative, and adding, that he had gone between them
-very often during the courtship, lago knitted his brow, as if
he had got fresh light of some terrible matter, and cried,
" Indeed! This brought into Othello's mind, the words
which lago had let fall upon entering the room, and seeing
Cassio with Desdemona ; and he began to think there was
some meaning in all this : for he deemed lago to be a just
man, and full of love and honesty, and what in a false knave
would be tricks, in him seemed to be the natural workings
of an honest mind, big with something too great for utter-
ance: and Othello prayed Iago to speak what he knew, and
to give his worst thoughts words. And what," said lago,
"if some thoughts very vile should have intruded into my
breast, as where is the palace into which foul things do not
enter ?" Then lago went on to say, what a pity it were, if
any trouble should arise to Othello out of his imperfect
observations; that it would not be for Othello's peace to
know his thoughts; that people's good names were not to
be taken away for slight suspicions; and when Othello's
curiosity was raised almost to distraction with these hints
and scattered words, lago, as if in earnest care for Othello's
peace of mind, besought him to beware of jealousy; with
such art did this villain raise suspicions in the unguarded
Othello, by the very caution which he pretended to give him
against suspicion. "I know," said Othello, that my wife is
fair, loves company and feasting, is free of speech, sings,
plays, and dances well: but where virtue is, these qualities
are virtuous. I must have proof before I think her dis-
honest." Then Iago, as if glad that Othello was slow to
believe ill of his lady, frankly declared that he had no proof,
but begged Othello to observe her behaviour well, when

64 Tales from Shakspeare.
Cassio was by; not to be jealous nor too secure neither, for
that he (lago) knew the dispositions of the Italian ladies, his
countrywomen, better than Othello could do; and that in
Venice the wives let heaven see many pranks they dared
not show their husbands. Then he artfully insinuated, that
Desdemona deceived her father in marrying with Othello,
and carried it so closely, that the poor old man thought that
witchcraft had been used. Othello was much moved with
this argument, which brought the matter home to him, for if
she had deceived her father, why might she not deceive her
husband ?
Iago begged pardon for having moved him; but Othello,
assuming an indifference, while he was really shaken with
inward grief at lago's words, begged him to go on, which
lago did with many apologies, as if unwilling to produce
anything against Cassio, whom he called his friend : he then
came strongly to the point, and reminded Othello how
Desdemona had refused many suitable matches of her own
clime and complexion, and had married him, a Moor, which
showed unnatural in her, and proved her to have a head-
strong will: and when her better judgment returned, how
probable it was she should fall upon comparing Othello with
the fine forms and clear white complexions of the young
Italians her countrymen. He concluded with advising
Othello to put off his reconcilement with Cassio a little
longer, and in the mean while to note with what earnestness
Desdemona should intercede in his behalf; for that much
would be seen in that. So mischievously did this artful
villain lay his plots to turn the gentle qualities of the inno-
cent lady into her destruction, and make a net for her out of
her own goodness to entrap her: first setting Cassio on to
entreat her mediation, and then oit of that very mediation
contriving stratagems for her ruin.
The conference ended with lago's begging Othello to
account his wife innocent until he had more decisive proof ;
and Othello promised to be patient; but from that moment
the deceived Othello never tasted content of mind. Poppy,
nor the juice of mandragora, nor all the sleeping potions in
the world, could ever again restore to him that sweet rest


(~T --- --

66 Tales from Shakspeare.
which he had enjoyed but yesterday. His occupation
sickened upon him. He no longer took delight in anus.
His heart, that used to be raised at the sight of troops, and
banners, and battle-array, and would stir and leap at the
sound of a drum, or a trumpet, or a neighing war-horse,
seemed to have lost all that pride and ambition, which are
a soldier's virtue; and his military ardour and all his old
joys forsook him. Sometimes he thought his wife honest,
and at times he thought her not so; sometimes he thought
lago just, and at times he thought him not so ; then he would
wish that he had never known of it; he was not the worse
for her loving Cassio, so long as he knew it not: torn in
pieces with these distracting thoughts, he once laid hold on
lago's throat, and demanded proof of Desdemona's guilt, or
threatened instant death for his having belied her. Iago,
feigning indignation that his honesty should be taken for a
vice, asked Othello; if he had not sometimes seen a hand-
kerchief spotted with strawberries in his wife's hand. Othello
answered, that he had given her such a one, and that it was
his first gift. That same handkerchief," said lago, did I
see Michael Cassio this day wipe his face with." If it be as
you say," said Othello, I will not rest till a wide revenge
swallow them up : and first, for a token of your fidelity, I
expect that Cassio shall be put to death within three days;
and for that fair devil (meaning his lady), I will withdraw
and devise some swift means of death for her."
Trifles, light as air, are to the jealous proofs as strong as
holy writ. A handkerchief of his wife's seen in Cassio's
hand, was motive enough to the deluded Othello to pass
sentence of death upon them both, without once inquiring
how Cassio came by it. Desdemona had never given such a
present to Cassio, nor would this constant lady have wronged
her lord with doing so naughty a thing as giving his presents
to another man; both Cassio and Desdemona were innocent
of any offence against Othello : but the wicked lago, whose
spirits never slept in contrivance of villany, had made his
wife (a good, but a weak woman) steal this handkerchief
from Desdemona, under pretence of getting the work copied,
but, in reality, to drop it in Cassio's way, where he might

Othello. 67

find it, and give a handle to Iago's suggestion that it was
Desdemona's present.
Othello, soon after meeting his wife, pretended that he had
a headache (as he might indeed with truth), and desired her
to lend him her handkerchief to hold his temples. She did
so. Not this," said Othello, but that handkerchief I gave
you." Desdemona had it not about her (for indeed it was
stolen as we have related). "How !" said Othello, "this is
a fault indeed. That handkerchief an Egyptian woman
gave to my mother; the woman was a witch, and could read
people's thoughts : she told my mother, while she kept it, it
would make her amiable, and my father would love her;
but, if she lost it, or gave it away, my father's fancy would
turn, and he would loathe her as much as he had loved her.
She dying gave it me, and bade me, if I ever married, to give
it to my wife. I did so; take heed of it. Make it a darling
as precious as your eye." "Is it possible l" said the frighted
lady. "'Tis true;" continued Othello; "it is a magical
handkerchief; a sibyl that had lived in the world two
hundred years, in a fit of prophetic fury worked it; the silk-
worms that furnished the silk were hallowed, and it was
dyed in mummy of maidens' hearts conserved." Desdemona,
hearing the wondrous virtues of the handkerchief, was ready
to die with fear, for she plainly perceived she had lost it, and
with it, she feared, the affections of her husband. Then
Othello started, and looked as if he were going to do some rash
thing, and still he demanded the handkerchief, which when
she could not produce, she tried to divert her husband from
too serious thoughts, and cheerfully told him, she saw all his
talk about the handkerchief was only to put her off from her
suit about Michael Cassio, whom she went on to praise (as
Iago had foretold), till Othello in perfect distraction burst
out of the room, and then Desdemona, though unwillingly,
began to suspect her lord was jealous.
What cause she could have ministered to him she knew
not, and then she accused herself for accusing the noble
Othello, and thought to be sure that some untoward news
from Venice, or some state troubles, had chafed his spirits,
and made his temper not so sweet as formerly. And she

68 Tales from Shakspeare.
said, "Men are not gods, and we must not look for that
observance from them when they are married, which they
show us on the bridal day." And she beshrewed herself
for so unkindly judging of his unkindness.
Again Othello and Desdemona met, and he accused her
more plainly of being unfaithful, and of loving another man,
but he did not name whom : and Othello wept, and Desde-
mona said, "Alas the heavy day why do you weepi"
And Othello told her, he could have borne all sorts of evils
with fortitude-poverty, and disease, and disgrace; but her
infidelity had broken his heart: and he called her a weed,
that looked so fair, and smelled so sweet, that the sense
ached at it; and wished she had never been born. And
when he had left her, this innocent lady was so stupefied
with wonder at her lord's untrue suspicion of her, that a
weight-like sleep came over her, and she only desired her
attendant to make her bed, and to lay her wedding-sheets
upon it, saying, that when people teach their babes, they do
it by gentle means and easy tasks, and Othello might have
chid her so; for in good faith she was but a child when she
was chidden. And this was all the complaint which this
gentle lady made.
Desdemona being retired to bed, expecting her lord would
follow her, soon fell into a slumber, the effect of her troubled
spirits, when Othello entered the chamber, full of the black
purpose which he had meditated of putting his lady to death.
But when he saw her asleep, he thought he would not shed
her blood, nor scar that white skin of hers, more white than
alabaster. But he was resolved she should die; else (as he
.said) she would live to betray more men, as she had done
him. Then he kissed her for the last time (as he said), and
that kiss was so sweet, he must needs kiss her again; and
he wept, but he said they were cruel tears.
Desdemona was awakened with his kisses, and she looked
upon Othello, and she saw him gnaw his under lip, and roll his
eyes, and she knew he was always fatal when he looked so :
and he bade her prepare for death, and to say her prayers,
for he would not kill her soul. And this innocent wife, as
she lay at his mercy, begged for compassion, and to know

Othello, 69
her fault; and then he named Cassio, and the handkerchief
which (he said) she had given him; and as the guiltless lady
was proceeding to clear herself, he suddenly would hear no
more, but covering her up in the bedclothes, stifled her till
she died.
In this instant of time was brought into the house Cassio,
wounded and bleeding, whom lago had set one of his ciea-
tures on to assassinate; but the fellow not succeeding in his.
attempt to kill Cassio (whom he wounded, but not mortally),
and being himself killed by lago to prevent discovery, in his
pockets were found certain letters, which made the guilt of
lago, and the innocence of Cassio, clear beyond all doubt:
and Cassio now came to beg pardon of Othello, and to ask
wherein he had offended him, that he had employed lago to
murder him.
This discovery was as a thunderstroke to Othello, who now
plainly saw that he was no better than a murderer, and that
his wife (poor innocent lidy) had been ever faithful to
him; the extreme anguish of which discovery making life
insupportable, he fell upon his sword, and throwing himself
upon the body of his dear injured lady, expired.
These rash acts raised much passion of horror and amaze-
ment in the bystanders, for Othello had borne a fair reputa-
tion, and till he was wrought upon by the arts of a villain,
which his own noble nature never gave him leave to suspect,
he was a loving and a doting husband. He had loved, not
wisely, but too well; and his manly eyes (when he learned
his mistake), though not used to weep on every small occa-
sion, dropped tears as, fast as the Arabian trees their gum.
And when he was dead all his former merits and his valiant
acts were remembered. Nothing now remained for his
successor, but to put the utmost censure of the law in force
against lago, who was executed with strict tortures ; and to
send word to the state of Venice of the lamentable death of
their renowned general.

70 Tales from Shakspeare.


TIMON, a lord of Athens, in the enjoyment of a princely
fortune, affected a humour of liberality which knew no limits.
His almost infinite wealth could not flow in so fast, but he
poured it out faster upon all sorts and degrees of people.
Not the poor only tasted of his bounty, but great lords did
not disdain to rank themselves among his dependents and
followers. His table was resorted to by all the luxurious
feasters, and his house was open to all comers and goers at
Athens. His large wealth combined with his free and pro-
digal nature to subdue all hearts to his love ; men of all
minds and dispositions tendered their services to lord Timon,
from the glass-faced flatterer, whose face reflects as in a
mirror the present humour of his patron, to the rough and
unbending cynic, who affecting a contempt of men's persons,
and an indifference to worldly things, yet could not stand
out against the gracious manners and munificent soul of lord
Timon, but would come (against his nature) to partake of his
royal entertainments, and return most rich in his own esti-
mation if he had received a nod or a salutation from Timon.
If a poet had composed a work which wanted a recom-
mendatory introduction to the world, he had no more to do
but to dedicate it to lord Timon, and the poem was sure of
a sale, besides a present purse from the patron, and daily
access to his house and table. If a painter had a picture to
dispose of, he had only to take it to lord Timon, and pretend
to consult his taste as to the merits of it; nothing more was
wanting to persuade the liberal-hearted lord to buy it. If a
jeweller had a stone of price, or a mercer rich costly stuffs,
which for their costliness lay upon his hands, lord Timon's
house was a ready mart always open, where they might get

Timon of Athens. 71
off their wares or their jewellery at any price, and the good-
natured lord would thank them into the bargain, as if they
had done him a piece of courtesy in letting him have the
refusal of such precious commodities. So that by this means
his house was thronged with superfluous purchases, of no use
but to swell uneasy and ostentatious pomp ; and his person
was still more inconveniently beset with a crowd of these
idle visitors, lying poets, painters, sharking tradesmen, lords,
ladies, needy courtiers, and expectants, who continually filled
his lobbies, raining their fulsome flatteries in whispers in his
ears, sacrificing to him with adulation as to a god, making
sacred the very stirrup by which he mounted his horse, and
seeming as though they drank the free air but through his
permission and bounty.
Some of these daily dependents were young men of birth,
who (their means not answering to their extravagance) had
been put in prison by creditors, and redeemed thence by
lord Timon ; these young prodigals thenceforward fastened
upon his lordship, as if by common sympathy he were neces-
sarily endeared to all such spendthrifts and loose livers, who,
not being able to follow him in his wealth, found it easier to
copy him in prodigality and copious spending of what was
not their own. One of these flesh-flies was Ventidius, for
whose debts unjustly contracted Timon but lately had paid
down the sum of five talents.
But among this confluence, this great flood of visitors,
none were more conspicuous than the makers of presents
and givers of gifts. It was fortunate for these men, if
Timon took a fancy to a dog or a horse, or any piece of cheap
furniture which was theirs. The thing so praised, whatever
it was, was sure to be sent the next morning with the com-
pliments of the giver for lord Timon's acceptance, and apolo-
gies for the unworthiness of the gift; and this dog or horse,
or whatever it might be, did not fail to produce, from
Timon's bounty, who would not be outdone in gifts, perhaps
twenty dogs or horses, certainly presents of far richer worth,
as these pretended donors knew well enough, and that their
false presents were but the putting out of so much money
at large and speedy interest. In this wiy lord Lucius had

72 Tales from Shzakspeare.
lately sent to Timon a present of four milk-white horses
trapped in silver which this cunning lord had observed
Timon upon some occasion to commend; and another lord,
Lucullus, had bestowed upon him in the same pretended
way of free gift a brace of greyhounds, whose make and fleet-
ness Timon had been heard to admire: these presents the
easy-hearted lord accepted without suspicion of the dishonest
views of the presenters; and the givers of course were
rewarded with some rich return, a diamond or some jewel
of twenty times the value of their false and mercenary
Sometimes these creatures would go to work in a more
direct way, and with gross and palpable artifice, which yet
the credulous Timon was too blind to see, would affect to
admire and praise something that Timon possessed, a bargain
that he had bought, or some late purchase, which was sure
to draw from this yielding and soft-hearted lord a gift of the
thing commended, for no service in the world done for it but
the easy expense of a little cheap and obvious flattery. In
this way Timon but the other day had given to one of these
mean lords the bay courser which he himself rode upon,
because his lordship had been pleased to say that it was a
handsome beast and went well; and Timon knew that no
man ever justly praised what he did not wish to possess.
For lord Timon weighed his friends' affection with his own,
and so fond was he of bestowing, that he could have dealt
kingdoms to these supposed friends, and never have been
Not that Timon's wealth all went to enrich these wicked
flatterers; he could do noble and praiseworthy actions ; and
when a servant of his once loved the daughter of a rich
Athenian, but could not hope to obtain her by reason that in
wealth and rank the maid was so far above him, lord Timon
freely bestowed upon his servant three Athenian talents, to
make his fortune equal to the dowry which the father of the
young maid demanded of him who should be her husband.
But for the most part, knaves and parasites had the com-
mand of his fortune, false friends whom he did not know to
be such, but, because they flocked around his person, he

\ \

I ,

-- _


74 Tales from Shaksfeare.
thought they must needs love him; and because they smiled
and flattered him, he thought surely that his conduct was
approved by all the wise and good. And when he was
feasting in the midst of all these flatterers and mock friends,
when they were eating him up, and draining his fortunes dry
with large draughts of richest wines drunk to his health and
prosperity, he could not perceive the difference of a friend
from a flatterer, but to his deluded eyes (made proud with
the sight), it seemed a precious comfort to have so many, like
brothers commanding one another's fortunes (though it was
his own fortune which paid all the costs), and with joy they
would run over at the spectacle of such, as it appeared to
him, truly festive and fraternal meeting.
But while he thus outwent the very heart of kindness, and
poured out his bounty, as if Plutus, the god of gold, had
been but his steward; while thus he proceeded without care
or stop, so senseless of expense that he would neither inquire
how he could maintain it, nor cease his wild flow of riot;
his riches, which were not infinite, must needs melt away
before a prodigality which knew no limits. But who should
tell him so ? his flatterers 1 they had an interest in shutting
his eyes. In vain did his honest steward Flavius try to
represent to him his condition, laying his accounts before
him, begging of him, praying of him, with an importunity
that on any other occasion would have been unmannerly in
a servant, beseeching him with tears, to look into the state
of his affairs. Timon would still put him off, and turn the
discourse to something else; for nothing is so deaf to remon-
strance as riches turned to poverty, nothing so unwilling to
believe its situation, nothing is so incredulous to its own true
state, and hard to give credit to a reverse. Often had this
good steward, this honest creature, when all the rooms of
Timon's great house have been choked up with riotous
feeders at his master's cost, when the floors have wept with
drunken spilling of wine, and every apartment has blazed
with lights and resounded with music and feasting, often
had he retired by himself to some solitary spot, and wept
faster than the wine ran from the wasteful casks within, to
see the mad bounty of his lord, and to think, when the

Timon of .4Atens. 75
means were gone which brought him praises from all sorts
of people, how quickly the breath would be gone of which
the praise was made; praises won in feasting would be lost
in fasting, and at one cloud of winter-showers these flies
would disappear.
But now the time was come that Timon could shut his
ears no longer to the representations of this faithful steward.
Money must be had: and when he ordered Flavius to sell
some of his land for that purpose, Flavius informed him,
what he had in vain endeavoured at several times before to
make him listen to, that most of his land was already sold or
forfeited, and that all he possessed at present was not enough
to pay the one half of what he owed. Struck with wonder
at this representation, Timon hastily replied, "My lands
extended from Athens to Lacedemon." 0 my good lord,"
said Flavius, "the world is but a world, and has bounds; were
it all yours to give it in a breath, how quickly were it gone! "
Timon consoled himself that no villanous bounty had yet
come from him, that if he had given his wealth .away un-
wisely, it had not been bestowed to feed his vices, but to
cherish his friends; and he bade the kind-hearted steward
(who was weeping) to take comfort in the assurance that his
master could never lack means, while he had so many noble
friends; and this infatuated lord persuaded himself that he
had nothing to do but to send and borrow, to use every man's
fortune (that had ever tasted his bounty) in this extremity,
as freely as his own. Then with a cheerful look, as if con-
fident of the trial, he severally despatched messengers to
lord Lucius. to lords Lucullus and Sempronius, men upon
whom he had lavished his gifts in past times without measure
or moderation; and to Ventidius, whom he had lately
released out of prison by paying his debts, and who by the
death of his father was now come into the possession of an
ample fortune, and well enabled to requite Timon's courtesy;
to request of Ventidius the return of those five talents which
he had paid for him, and to each of these noble lords the
loan of fifty talents : nothing doubting that their gratitude
would supply his wants (if he needed it) to the amount of
five hundred times fifty talents.

76 Tales from Shakspeare.
Lucullus was the first applied to. This mean lord had
been dreaming overnight of a silver basin and cup, and
when Timon's servant was announced, his sordid mind sug-
gested to him that this was surely the making out of his
dream, and that Timon had sent him such a present : but
when he understood the truth of the matter, and that Timon
wanted money, the quality of his faint and watery friendship
showed itself, for with many protestations he vowed to the
servant that he had long foreseen the ruin of his master's
affairs, and many a time had he come to dinner, to tell him
of it, and had come again to supper, to try to persuade him
to spend less, but he would take no counsel nor warning by
his coming : and true it was that he had been a constant
attender (as he said) at Timon's feasts, as he had in greater
things tasted his bounty, but that he ever came with that
intent, or gave good counsel or reproof to Timon, was a base
unworthy lie, which he suitably followed up with meanly
offering the servant a bribe, to go home to his master and
tell him that he had not found Lucullus at home.
As little success had the messenger who was sent to lord
Lucius. This lying lord, who was full of Timon's meat, and
enriched almost to bursting with Timon's costly presents,
when he found the wind changed, and the fountain of so
much bounty suddenly stopped, at first could hardly believe
it; but on its being confirmed, he affected great regret that
he should not have it in his power to serve lord Timon, for
unfortunately (which was a base falsehood) he had made a
great purchase the day before, which had quite disfurnished
him of the means at present, the more beast he, he called
himself, to put it out of his power to serve so good a friend;
and he counted it one of his greatest afflictions that his
ability should fail him to pleasure such an honourable
Who can call any man friend that dips in the same dish
with him l just of this metal is every flatterer. In the
recollection of everybody Timon had been a father to this
Lucius, had kept up his credit with his purse; Timon's
money had gone to pay the wages of his servants, to pay the
hire of the labourers who had sweat to build the fine houses

Timon of Altens. 77

which Lucius's pride had made necessary to him : yet, oh !
the monster which man makes himself when he proves
ungrateful this Lucius now denied to Timon a sum, which,
in respect of what Timon had bestowed on him, was less
than charitable men afford to beggars.
Sempronius and every one of those mercenary lords to
whom Timon applied in their turn, returned the same evasive
answer or direct denial; even Ventidius, the redeemed and
now rich Ventidius, refused to assist him with the loan of
those five talents which Timon had not lent but generously
given him in his distress.
Now was Timon as much avoided in his poverty as he had
been courted and resorted to in his riches. Now the same
tongues which had been loudest in his praises, extolling him
as bountiful, liberal, and openhanded, were not ashamed to
censure that very bounty as folly, that liberality as profuse-
ness, though it had shown itself folly in nothing so truly as
in the selection of such unworthy creatures as themselves for
its objects. Now was Timon's princely mansion forsaken,
and become a shunned and hated place, a place for men to
pass by, not a place as formerly where every passenger must
stop and taste of his wine and good cheer; now, instead of
being thronged with feasting and tumultuous guests, it was
beset with impatient and clamorous creditors, usurers, extor-
tioners, fierce and intolerable in their demands, pleading
bonds, interest, mortgages, iron-hearted men that would
take no denial nor putting off, that Timon's house was now
his jail, which he could not pass, nor go in nor out for them;
one demanding his due of fifty talents, another bringing in
a bill of five thousand crowns, which if he would tell out his
blood by drops, and pay them so, he had not enough in his
body to discharge, drop by drop.
In this desperate and irremediable state (as it seemed) of
his affairs, the eyes of all men were suddenly surprised at a
new and incredible lustre, which this setting sun put forth.
Once more lord Timon proclaimed a feast, to which he
invited his accustomed guests, lords, ladies, all that was
great or fashionable in Athens. Lords Lucius and Lucullus
came, Ventidius, Sempronius, and the rest. Who more sorry

78 Tales from Shakspeare.
now than these fawning wretches, when they found (as
they thought) that lord Timon's poverty was all pretence,
and had been only put on to make trial of their loves,
to think that they should not have seen through the arti-
fice at the time, and have had the cheap credit of obliging
his lordship ? yet who more glad to find the fountain of that
noble bounty, which they had thought dried up, still fresh
and running ? They came dissembling, protesting, expressing
deepest sorrow and shame, that when his lordship sent to
them, they should have been so unfortunate as to want the
present means to oblige so honourable a friend. But Timon
begged them not to give such trifles a thought, for he had
altogether forgotten it. And these base fawning lords,
though they had denied him money in his adversity, yet
could not refuse their presence at this new blaze of his
returning prosperity. For the swallow follows not summer
more .iliilv,- than men of these dispositions follow the
good fortunes of the great, nor more willingly leaves winter
than these shrink from the first appearance of a reverse: such
summer birds are men. But now with music and state the
banquet of smoking dishes was served up ; and when the
guests had a little done admiring whence the bankrupt
Timon could find means to furnish so costly a feast, some
doubting whether the scene which they saw was real, as
scarce trusting their own eyes ; at a signal given, the dishes
were uncovered, and Timon's drift appeared : instead of
those varieties and far-fetched dainties which they expected,
that Timon's epicurean table in past times had so liberally
presented, now appeared under the covers of these dishes a
preparation more suitable to Timon's poverty, nothing but a
little smoke and lukewarm water, fit feast for this knot of
mouth-friends, whose professions were indeed smoke, and
their hearts lukewarm and slippery as the water with which
Timon welcomed his astonished guests, bidding them, Un-
cover, dogs, and lap ;" and before they could recover their
surprise, sprinkling it in their faces, that they might have
enough, and throwing dishes and all after them, who now
ran huddling out, lords, ladies, with their caps snatched up
in haste, a splendid confusion, Timon pursuing them, still

Timon of Athens. 79
calling them what they were, Smooth smiling parasites,
destroyers under the mask of courtesy, affable wolves, meek
bears, fools of fortune, feast-friends, time-flies." They,
crowding out to avoid him, left the house more willingly
than they had entered it : some losing their gowns and caps,
and some their jewels in the hurry, all glad to escape out of
the presence of such a mad lord, and the ridicule of his
mock banquet.
This was the last feast which ever Timon made, and in
it he took farewell of Athens and the society of men, for
after that he betook himself to the woods, turning his back
upon the hated city and upon all mankind, wishing the
walls of that detestable city might sink, and their houses
fall upon their owners, wishing all plagues which infest
humanity, war, outrage, poverty, and diseases, might fasten
upon its inhabitants, praying the just gods to confound
all Athenians, both young and old, high and low; so wish-
ing, he went to the woods, where he said he should find
the unkindest beast much kinder than mankind. He
stripped himself naked, that he might retain no fashion
of a man, and dug a cave to live in, and lived solitary in
the manner of a beast, eating the wild roots, and drinking
water, flying from the face of his kind, and choosing rather
to herd with wild beasts, as more harmless and friendly than
What a change from lord Timon the rich, lord Timon the
delight of mankind, to Timon the naked, Timon the man-
hater Where were his flatterers now ? Where were his at-
tendants and retinue Would the bleak air, that boisterous
servitor, be his chamberlain, to put his shirt on warm u
Would those stiff trees, that had outlived the eagle, turn
young and airy pages to him, to skip on his errands when he
bade them ? Would the cold brook, when it was iced with
winter, administer to him his warm broths and candles when
sick of an overnight's surfeit ? Or would the creatures that
lived in those wild woods come and lick his hand and flatter
Here on a day, when he was digging for roots, his poor
sustenance, his spade struck against something heavy, which

So Tales from Shakspeare.
proved to be gold, a great heap which some miser had pro-
bably buried in a time of alarm, thinking to have come again
and taken it from its prison, but died before the opportunity
had arrived, without making any man privy to the conceal-
ment; so it lay, doing neither good nor harm, in the bowels
of the earth, its mother, as if it had never come from thence,
till the accidental striking of Timon's spade against it once
more brought it to light.
Here was a mass of treasure which, if Timon had retained
his old mind, was enough to have purchased him friends
and flatterers again ; but Timon was sick of the false world,
and the sight of gold was poisonous to his eyes; and he
would have restored it to the earth, but that, thinking of
the infinite calamities which by means of gold happen to
mankind, how the lucre of it causes robberies, oppression,
injustice, briberies, violence, and murder among them, he
had a pleasure in imagining (such a rooted hatred did he
bear to his species) that out of this heap which in digging he
had discovered, might arise some mischief to plague man-
kind. And some soldiers passing through the woods near to
his cave at that instant, which proved to be a part of the
troops of the Athenian captain Alcibiades, who upon some
disgust taken against the senators at Athens (the Athenians
were ever noted to be a thankless and ungrateful people,
giving disgust to their generals and best friends), was march-
ing at the head of the same triumphant army which he had
formerly headed in their defence, to war against them:
Timon, who liked their business well, bestowed upon their
captain the gold to pay his soldiers, requiring no other ser-
vice from him, than that he should with his conquering
army lay Athens level with the ground, and burn, slay, kill
all her inhabitants ; not sparing the old men for their white
beards, for (he said) they were usurers, nor the young
children for their seeming innocent smiles, for those (he
said) would live, if they grew up, to be traitors; but to steel
his eyes and ears against any sights or sounds that might
awaken compassion; and not to let the cries of virgins,
babes, or mothers, hinder him from making one universal
massacre of the city, but to confound them all in his con-

Timon of Athens. 81
quest; and when he had conquered, he prayed that the gods
would confound him also, the conqueror : so thoroughly
did Timon hate Athens, Athenians, and all mankind.
While he lived in this forlorn state, leading a life more
brutal than human, he was suddenly surprised one day with
the appearance of a man standing in an admiring posture at
the door of his cave. It was Flavius, the honest steward,
whom love and zealous affection to. his master had led to
seek him out at his wretched dwelling, and to offer his
services; and the first sight of his master, the once noble
Timon, in that abject condition, naked as he was born, living
in the manner of a beast among beasts, looking like his own
sad ruins and a monument of decay, so affected this good
servant, that he stood speechless, wrapped up in horror and
confounded. And when he found utterance at last to his
words, they were so choked with tears, that Timon had much
ado to know him again, or to make out who it was that had
come (so contrary to the experience he had had of mankind)
to offer him service in extremity. And being in the form
and shape of a man, he suspected him for a traitor, and his
tears for false; but the good servant by so many tokens
confirmed the truth of his fidelity, and made it clear that
nothing but love and zealous duty to his once dear master
had brought him there, that Timon was forced to confess
that the world contained one honest man; yet, being in the
shape and form of a man, he could not look upon his man's
face without abhorrence, or hear words uttered from his
man's lips without loathing; and this singly honest man
was forced to depart, because he was a man, and because,
with a heart more gentle and compassionate than is usual to
man, he bore man's detested form and outward feature.
But greater visitants than a poor steward were about to
interrupt the savage quiet of Timon's solitude. For now
the day was come when the ungrateful lords of Athens
sorely repented the injustice which they had done to the
noble Timon. For Alcibiades, like an incensed wild boar,
was raging at the walls of their city, and with his hot siege
threatened to lay fair Athens in the dust. And now
the memory of lord Timon's former prowess and military

82 Tales from Shaksfeare.

conduct came fresh into their forgetful minds, for Timon had
been their general in past times, and was a valiant and
expert soldier, who alone of all the Athenians was deemed
able to cope with a besieging army such as then threatened
them, or to drive back the furious approaches of Alcibiades.
A deputation of the senators was chosen in this emergency
to wait upon Timon. To him they come in their extremity,
to whom, when he was in extremity, they had shown but
small regard ; as if they presumed upon his gratitude whom
they had disobliged, and had derived a claim to his courtesy
from their own most discourteous and unpiteous treatment.
Now they earnestly beseech him, implore him with tears,
to return and save that city, from which their ingratitude
had so lately driven him; now they offer him riches, power,
dignities, satisfaction for past injuries, and public honours
and the public love; their persons, lives, and fortunes, to be
at his disposal, if he will but come back and save them.
But Timon the naked, Timon the man-hater, was no longer
lord Timon, the lord of bounty, the flower of valour, their
defence in war, their ornament in peace. If Alcibiades
killed his countrymen, Timon cared not. If he sacked fair
Athens, and slew her old men and her infants, Timon would
rejoice. So he told them; and that there was not a knife in
the unruly camp which he did not prize above the reverendest
throat in Athens.
This was all the answer he vouchsafed to the weeping
disappointed senators ; only at parting, he bade them com-
mend him to his countrymen, and tell them, that to ease
them of their griefs and anxieties, and to prevent the con-
sequences of fierce Alcibiades' wrath, there was yet a way
left, which he would teach them, for he had yet so much
affection left for his dear countrymen as to be willing to do
them a kindness before his death. These words a little
revived the senators, who hoped that his kindness for their
city was returning. Then Timon told them that he had a
tree, which grew near his cave, which he should shortly have
occasion to cut down, and he invited all his friends in
Athens, high or low, of what degree soever, who wished to
shun affliction, to come and take a taste of his tree before he

limon of Athens. 83
cut it down; meaning that they might come and hang
themselves on it, and escape affliction that way.
And this was the last courtesy, of all his noble bounties,
which Timon showed to mankind, and this the last sight of
him which his countrymen had : for not many days after, a
poor soldier, passing by the seabeach, which was at a little
distance from the woods which Timon frequented, found a
tomb on the verge of the sea, with an inscription upon it,
purporting that it was the grave of Timon the man-hater,
who, While he lived, did hate all living men, and dying,
wished a plague might consume all caitiffs left !"
Whether he finished his life by violence, or whether mere
distaste of life and the loathing he had for mankind brought
Timon to his conclusion, was not clear, yet all men admired
the fitness of his epitaph, and the consistency of his end;
dying, as he had lived, a hater of mankind : and some there
were who fancied a conceit in the very choice which he
made of the seabeach for his place of burial, where the vast
sea might weep for ever upon his grave, as in contempt for
the transient and shallow tears of hypocritical and deceitful

84 Tales from Shakspeare.


WHEN Duncan the Meek reigned king of Scotland, there
lived a great thane, or lord, called Macbeth. This Macbeth
was a near kinsman to the king, and in great esteem at court
for his valour and conduct in the wars; an example of which
he had lately given, in defeating a rebel army assisted by the
troops of Norway in terrible numbers.
The two Scottish generals, Macbeth and Banquo, returning
victorious from this great battle, their way lay ov6r a blasted
heath, where they were stopped by the strange appearance
of three figures like women except that they had beards, and
their withered skins and wild attire made them look not like
any earthly creatures. Macbeth first addressed them, when
they, seemingly offended, laid each one her choppy finger
upon her skinny lips, in token of silence: and the first of
them saluted Macbeth with the title of thane of Glamis.
The general was not a little startled to find himself known
by such creatures; but how much more, when the second of
them followed up that salute by giving him the title of thane
of Cawdor, to which honour he had no pretensions; and
again the third bid him, All hail king that shall be here-
after !" Such a prophetic greeting might well amaze him,
who knew that while the king's sons lived he could not hope
to succeed to the throne. Then turning to Banquo, they
pronounced him, in a sort of riddling terms, to be lesser than
liacbeth and greater not so happy, but much happier / and
prophesied that though he should never reign, yet his sons
after him should be kings in Scotland. They then turned
into air, and vanished : by which the generals knew them to
be the weird sisters, or witches.
While they stood pondering on the strangeness of this

Macbeth. 85
adventure, there arrived certain messengers from the king,
who were empowered by him to confer upon Macbeth the
dignity of thane of Cawdor. An event so miraculously
corresponding with the prediction of the witches astonished
Macbeth, and he stood wrapped in amazement, unable to
make reply to the messengers; and in that point of time
swelling hopes arose in his mind, that the prediction of the
third witch might in like manner have its accomplishment,
and that he should one day reign king in Scotland.
Turning to Banquo, he said, "Do you not hope that your
children shall be kings, when what the witches promised to
me has so wonderfully come to pass ?" "That hope,"
answered the general, "might enkindle you to aim at the
throne; but oftentimes these ministers of darkness tell us
truths in little things, to betray us into deeds of greatest
But the wicked suggestions of the witches had sunk too
deep into the mind of Macbeth to allow him to attend to the
warnings of the good Banquo. From that time he bent all
his thoughts how to compass the throne of Scotland.
Macbeth had a wife, to whom he communicated the
strange prediction of the weird sisters, and its partial
accomplishment. She was a bad ambitious woman, and so
as her husband and herself could arrive at greatness, she
cared not much by what means. She spurred on the
reluctant purpose of Macbeth, who felt compunction at the
thoughts of blood, and did not cease to represent the murder
of the king as a step absolutely necessary to the fulfilment
of the flattering prophecy.
It happened at this time that the king, who out of his
royal condescension would oftentimes visit his. principal
nobility upon gracious terms, came to Macbeth's house
attended by his two sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, and a
numerous train of thanes and attendants, the more to honour
Macbeth for the triumphal success of his wars.
The castle of Macbeth was pleasantly situated, and the
air about it was sweet and wholesome, which appeared by
the nests which the martlet, or swallow, had built under all
the jutting friezes and buttresses of the building, wherever


I i

I -I

'I ~I A -

Macbeth. 87
it found a place of advantage : for where those birds most
breed and haunt, the air is observed to be delicate. The
king entered well pleased with the place, and not less so
with the attentions and respect of his honoured hostess,
lady Macbeth, who had the art of covering treacherous pur-
poses with smiles; and could look like the innocent flower,
while she was indeed the serpent under it.
The king, being tired with his journey, went early to bed,
and in his state-room two grooms of his chamber (as was the
custom) slept beside him. He had been unusually pleased
with his reception, and had made presents before he retired
to his principal officers; and among the rest, had sent a rich
diamond to lady Macbeth, greeting her by the name of his
most kind hostess.
Now was the middle of night, when over half the world
nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse men's minds
asleep, and none but the wolf and the murderer is abroad.
This was the time when lady Macbeth waked to plot the
murder of the king. She would not have undertaken a deed
so abhorrent to her sex, but that she feared her husband's
nature, that it was too full of the milk of human kindness,
to do a contrived murder. She knew him to be ambitious,
but withal to be scrupulous, and not yet prepared for that
height of crime which commonly in the end accompanies
inordinate ambition. She had won him to consent to the
murder, but she doubted his resolution : and she feared that
the natural tenderness of his disposition (more humane than
her own) would come between, and defeat the purpose. So
with her own hands armed with a dagger, she approached
the king's bed; having taken care to ply the grooms of his
chamber so with wine, that they slept intoxicated, and care-
less of their charge. There lay Duncan, in a sound sleep
after the fatigues of his journey, and as she viewed him
earnestly there was something in his face, as he slept, which
resembled her own father, and she had not the courage to
She returned to confer with her husband. His resolution
had begun to stagger. He considered that there were strong
reasons against the deed. In the first place, he was not only

88 Tales from Shakspeare.
a subject, but a near kinsman to the king; and he had been
his host and entertainer that day, whose duty, by the laws of
hospitality, it was to shut the door against his murderers,
not bear the knife himself. Then he considered how just
and merciful a king this Duncan had been, how clear of
offence to his subjects, how loving to his nobility, and in
particular to him; that such kings are the peculiar care of
Heaven, and their subjects doubly bound to revenge their
deaths. Besides, by the favours of the king, Macbeth
stood high in the opinion of all sorts of men, and how
would those honours be stained by the reputation of so foul
a murder !
In these conflicts of the mind lady Macbeth found her
husband, inclining to the better part, and resolving to pro-
ceed no further. But she being a woman not easily shaken
from her evil purpose, began to pour in at his ears words
which infused a portion of her own spirit into his mind,
assigning reason upon reason why he should not shrink from
what he had undertaken; how easy the deed was ; how soon
it would be over; and how the action of one short night
would give to all their nights and days to come a sovereign
sway and royalty Then she threw contempt on his change
of purpose, and accused him of fickleness and cowardice;
and declared that she had given suck, and knew how tender
it was to love the babe that milked her, but she would, while
it was smiling in her face, have plucked it from her breast,
and dashed its brains out, if she had so sworn to do it, as he
had sworn to perform that murder. Then she added, how
practicable it was to lay the guilt of the deed upon the
drunken sleepy grooms. And with the valour of her tongue
she so chastised his sluggish resolutions, that he once more
summoned up courage to the bloody business.
So, taking the dagger in his hand, he softly stole in the
dark to the room where Duncan lay; and as he went, he
thought he saw another dagger in the air, with the handle
towards him, and on the blade and at the point of it, drops
of blood : but when he tried to grasp at it, it was nothing
but air, a mere phantasm proceeding from his own hot and
oppressed brain and the business he had in hand.

Macbeth. 89
Getting rid of this fear, he entered the king's room, whom
he dispatched with one stroke of his dagger. Just as he had
done the murder, one of the grooms, who slept in the
chamber, laughed in his sleep, and the other cried, "Murder,"
which woke them both; but they said a short prayer; one
of them said, "God bless us !" and the other answered,
"Amen; and addressed themselves to sleep again. Mac-
beth, who stood listening to them, tried to say, "Amen,"
when the fellow said, God bless us !" but, though he had
most need of a blessing, the word stuck in his throat, and he
could not pronounce it.
Again he thought he heard a voice which cried Sleep no
more : Macbeth doth murder sleep, the innocent sleep, that
nourishes life." Still it cried, "Sleep no more," to all the
house. Glamis hath murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor
shall sleep no more, Macbeth shall sleep no more."
With such horrible imaginations Macbeth returned to his
listening wife, who began to think he had failed of his pur-
pose, and that the deed was somehow frustrated. He came
in so distracted a state, that she reproached him with his
want of firmness, and sent him to wash his hands of the
blood which stained them, while she took his dagger, with
purpose to stain the cheeks of the grooms with blood, to
make it seem their guilt.
Morning came, and with it the discovery of the murder,
which could not be concealed; and though Macbeth and his
lady made great show of grief, and the proofs against the
grooms (the dagger being produced against them and their
faces smeared with blood) were sufficiently strong, yet the
entire suspicion fell upon Macbeth, whose inducements to
such a deed were so much more forcible than such poor silly
grooms could be supposed to have; and Duncan's two sons
fled. Malcolm, the eldest, sought for refuge in the English
court; and the youngest, Donalbain, made his escape to
The king's sons, who should have succeeded him, having
thus vacated the throne, Macbeth as next heir was crowned
king, and thus the prediction of the weird sisters was
literally accomplished.

90 Tales from Shaksfeare.
Though placed so high, Macbeth and his queen could not
forget the prophecy of the weird sisters, that though Mac-
beth should be king, yet not his children, but the children
of Banquo, should be kings after him. The thought of this,
and that they had defiled their hands with blood, and done
so great crimes, only to place the posterity of Banquo upon
the throne, so rankled within them, that they determined to
put to death both Banquo and his son, to make void the
predictions of the weird sisters, which in their own case had
been so remarkably brought to pass.
For this purpose they made a great supper, to which they
invited all the chief thanes; and, among the rest, with
marks of particular respect, Banquo and his son Fleance
were invited. The way by which Banquo was to pass to
the palace at night, was beset by murderers appointed by
Macbeth, who stabbed Banquo; but in the scuffle Fleance
escaped. From that Fleance descended a race of monarchs
who afterwards filled the Scottish throne, ending with James
the Sixth of Scotland and the First of England, under whom
the two crowns of England and Scotland were united.
At supper the queen, whose manners were in the highest
degree affable and royal, played the hostess with a graceful-
ness and attention which conciliated every one present, and
Macbeth discoursed freely with his thanes and nobles, say-
ing, that all that was honourable in the country was under
his roof, if he had but his good friend Banquo present,
whom yet he hoped he should rather have to chide for
neglect, than to lament for any mischance. Just at these
words the ghost of Banquo, whom he had caused to be
murdered, entered the room, and placed himself on the chair
which Macbeth was about to occupy. Though Macbeth was
a bold man, and one that could have faced the devil without
trembling, at this horrible sight his cheeks turned white
with fear, and he stood quite unmanned with his eyes fixed
upon the ghost. His queen and all the nobles, who saw
nothing, but perceived him gazing (as they thought) upon an
empty chair, took it for a fit of distraction; and she re-
proached him, whispering that it was but the same fancy
which had made him see the dagger in the air, when he was

MAacbeth. 91

about to kill Duncan. But Macbeth continued to see the
ghost, and gave no heed to all they could say, while he
addressed it with distracted words, yet so significant, that
his queen, fearing the dreadful secret would be disclosed, in
great haste dismissed the guests, excusing the infirmity of
Macbeth as a disorder he was often troubled with.
To such dreadful fancies Macbeth was subject. His
queen and he had their sleeps afflicted with terrible dreams,
and the blood of Banquo troubled them not more than the
escape of Fleance, whom now they looked upon as father to
a line of kings, who should keep their posterity out of the
throne. With these miserable thoughts they found no peace,
and Macbeth determined once more to seek out the weird
sisters, and know from them the worst.
He sought them in a cave upon the heath, where they,
who knew by foresight of his coming, were engaged in pre-
paring their dreadful charms, by which they conjured up
infernal spirits to reveal to them futurity. Their horrid
ingredients were toads, bats, and serpents, the eye of a newt,
and the tongue of a dog, the leg of a lizard, and the wing of
the night-owl, the scale of a dragon, the tooth of a wolf, the
maw of the ravenous salt sea shark, the mummy of a witch,
the root of the poisonous hemlock (this to have effect must
be digged in the dark), the gall of a goat, and the liver of a
Jew, with slips of the yew-tree that roots itself in graves,
and the finger of a dead child : all these were set on to boil
in a great kettle, or caldron, which, as fast as it grew too
hot, was cooled with a baboon's blood : to these they poured
in the blood of a sow that had eaten her young, and they
threw into the flame the grease that had sweaten from a
murderer's gibbet. By these charms they bound the infernal
spirits to answer their questions.
It was demanded of Macbeth, whether he would have his
doubts resolved by them, or by their masters, the spirits.
He, nothing daunted by the dreadful ceremonies which he
saw, boldly answered, "Where are they ? let me see them."
And they called the spirits, which were three. And the
first arose in the likeness of an armed head, and he called
Macbeth by name, and bid him beware of the thane of Fife;

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