« PreviousContinue »
But count the world a stranger for thy sake.
'Mongst all foes, that a friend should be the worst !” Proteus, struck to the heart, exclaims :
• My shame and guilt confound me.
As e'er I did commit."
“ Then I am paid;
By penitence the Eternal's wrath's appeased.” Next comes the pairing communion of Helena and Hermia, so inimitably described by the former, when shrinking from a threatened breach:
“ Is all the counsel that we two have shared,
The sisters' vows, the hours that we have spent,
And will you rend our ancient love asunder ?” A still more charming instance of female friendship " whose loves were dearer than the natural bond of sisters is that which joins Celia and Rosalind in “ As You Like It.” When Oliver asks “if Rosalind, the Duke's daughter, be banished with her father,” Charles answers, “0, no; for the Duke's daughter, her cousin, so loves her, - being ever from their cradles bred together, – that she would have followed
her exile, or have died to stay behind her.” A delicious, confidential dialogue follows between the two friends. "Cel. Why, cousin ; why, Rosalind; Cupid have mercy! - Not a word ? " Ros. Not one to throw at a dog. "Cel. No, thy words are too precious to be cast away upon curs, throw some of them at me ; come, lame me with reasons. * Ros. Then there were two cousins laid up." The
usurper now comes in, full of anger.
“ Duke. Mistress, despatch you with your safest haste, And get you from our court.
Me, uncle ?
“ Cel. Dear sovereign, hear me speak.
“ Duke. Ay, Celia ; we stayed her for your sake,
“ Cel. I did not then entreat to have her stay;
" Duke. She is too subtle for thee; and her smoothness,
When she is gone. Then open not thy lips.” It is beautiful to see how utterly the detestable meanness of this appeal fails of its intended effect on the noble and indignant Celia. As soon as the Duke retires, she embraces her friend, and cries :
“O my poor Rosalind ! whither wilt thou go?
Thou hast not, cousin :
“ Ros. That he hath not.
“ Cel. No ? hath not ? Rosalind lacks then the love Which teacheth me that thou and I am one:
Shall we be sundered ? Shall we part, sweet girl ?
Say what thou canst, I 'll go along with thee." In the “ Merchant of Venice,” the friendship of the sad, noble, good, old Antonio, and the bright, graceful, high, young Bassanio, is every way rich in beauty ; but there is nothing connected with it more delightful, than the manner in which it is reflected in the bearing and remarks of those around. Although entirely unobtrusive, it is so profound, exerts such a charm, that they all unconsciously become mirrors of it. And the exhibition of their direct relation and intercourse may challenge comparison with anything else of the kind in literature. Not a word is above or below the moderation of nature and life, and every line seems to breathe the very fragrance of truth and love into the soul of the reader. How finely their first appearance and conversation, at the close of the first scene, prepare us for what is to come! Through the aid of Antonio, Bassanio gets an outfit from Shylock, and goes to Belmont. He is fortunate, and wins the hand of Portia. In the midst of his joy, Salerio brings a letter from Antonio. Bassanio eagerly cries to him:
"Ere I ope
his letter, I pray you, tell me how my good friend doth.” Gratiano converses with Salerio, and Portia watches Bassanio while he reads.
“ Portia. There are some shrewd contents in yon same paper,
O sweet Portia
Rating myself at nothing, you shall see
every word in it a gaping wound,
Not one, my
“ Por. Is it your dear friend that is thus in trouble ?
“ Bass. The dearest friend to me, the kindest man,
that draws breath in Italy.
What, no more?
But let me hear the letter of your friend.”
Bassanio then reads the letter from Antonio, pathetic enough to distil tears out of stones :
“ Sweet Bassanio, my ships have all miscarried, my creditors grow cruel, my estate is very low, my bond to the Jew is forfeit ; and since, in paying it, it is impossible I should live, all debts are cleared between you and I, if I might but see you at my death : notwithstanding, use your pleasure ; if your love do not persuade you to come, let not my letter."
Well might Portia burst forth :
“ O love, despatch all business, and be gone." VOL. LXXIII. 5TH S. VOL. XI. NO. II.
In the next scene Antonio says:
“ These griefs and losses have so 'bated me,
That I shall hardly spare a pound of flesh
To see me pay his debt, and then I care not.” After Bassanio's departure with the money, Lorenzo says to Portia :
“ Madam, knew you to whom you show this honor,
Than customary bounty can enforce you."
"I never did repent for doing good,
Nor shall not now ; for in companions
lord.” In the trial scene, ere the fatal sentence falls, the disguised Portia asks Antonio :
“ Come, merchant, have you anything to say ?
“ Ant. But little ; I am armed, and well prepared. Give me your hand, Bassanio; fare
shall lose your friend,