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The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes-
When he himself might his quietus make,
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To groan and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death-
That undiscover'd country, from whose bourne
No traveller returns !-puzzles the will ;
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of!
Thus, conscience does make cowards of us all ;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought;
And enterprises of great pith and moment,
With this regard, their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action !
CATO ON THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL.
It must be so-Plato, thou reason'st well!
Else, whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire,
This longing after immortality ?
Or, whence this secret dread, and inward horror,
Of falling into nought? Why shrinks the soul
Back on herself, and startles at destruction ?
'Tis the Divinity that stirs within us,
'Tis Heaven itself, that points out an hereafter,
And intimates Eternity to man.
Eternity !-thou pleasing-dreadful thought!
Through what variety of untried being,
Through what new scenes and changes must we pass !
The wide, the unbounded prospect lies before me;
But shadows, clouds, and darkness, rest upon it.
Here will I hold. If there's a Power above us-
And that there is, all nature cries aloud
Through all her works—He must delight in virtue ;
And that which he delights in, must be happy.
But when? or where? This world was made for Cæsar.
I'm weary of conjectures—this must end them.
(Laying his hand on his sword.)
Thus I am doubly arm’d. My death, my life,
My bane and antidote, are both before me.
This—in a moment, brings me to an end ;
But this informs me I shall never die !
The soul, secured in her existence, smiles
At the drawn dagger, and defies its point.-
The stars shall fade away, the sun himself
Grow dim with age, and nature sink in
But thou shalt flourish in immortal youth,
Unhurt amidst the war of elements,
The wreck of matter, and the crash of worlds !
WOLSEY ON HIS FALLEN FORTUNES.
Farewell, a long farewell, to all my greatness !
This is the state of man; to day he puts forth
The tender leaves of hope, to morrow blossoms,
And bears his blushing honours thick upon him :
The third day, comes a frost, a killing frost;
And,—when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
His greatness is a ripening,-nips his root,
And then he falls, as I do. I have ventured,
Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders,
This many summers in a sea of glory;
But far beyond my depth; my high-blown pride
At length broke under me ; and now has left me,
Weary, and old with service, to the mercy
Of a rude stream, that must for ever hide me.
Vain pomp, and glory of this world, I hate ye ;
I feel my heart new opened : 0, how wretched
Is that poor man, that hangs on princes' favours !
There is, betwixt that smile we would aspire to,
That sweet aspect of princes, and their ruin,
More pangs and fears, than wars or woman have ;
And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer,
Never to hope again.
Oh, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven!
It hath the primal, eldest curse upon't-
A brother's murder !—Pray, I cannot,
Though inclination be as sharp as 'twill,
My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent;
And, like a man to double business bound,
I stand in pause where I shall first begin,
And both neglect. What if this cursed hand
Were thicker than itself with brother's blood ?
Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens
To wash it white as snow? Whereto serves mercy,
But to confront the visage of offence ?
And what's in prayer, but this twofold force,
To be forestalled ere we come to fall,
Or pardon'd, being down ? Then I'll look up;
My fault is past.-But, oh! what form of prayer
Can serve my turn? “ Forgive me my foul murder."
That cannot be, since I am still possessed
Of those effects for which I did the murder,
My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.
May one be pardon’d and retain the offence ?
In the corrupted currents of this world
Offence's gilded hand may shove by justice :
And oft ’tis seen the wicked prize itself
Buys out the laws. But 'tis not so above :
There is no shuffling; there the action lies
In its true nature; and we ourselves compell’d,
Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,
To give in evidence. What then? what rests ?
Try what repentance can : what can it not?
Yet wliat can it, when one cannot repent ?
Oh wretched state ! oh bosom black as death!
Oh limed soul, that, struggling to be free,
Art more engaged! Help, angels ! make essay!
Bow, stubborn knees ! and heart, with strings of steel,
Be soft as sinews of the new-born babe !
All, all may yet be well.
Go, bid thy mistress, when my drink is ready,
She strike upon the bell. Get thee to bed.
Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand ? Come, let me clutch thee.
I have thee not; and yet I see thee still.
Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To feeling, as to sight? or art thou but
A dagger of the mind ? a false creation,
Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain ?
I see thee yet, in form as palpable
As this which now I draw.-
Thou marshall'st me the way that I was going ;
And such an instrument I was to use.
Mine eyes are made the fools o'th' other senses,
Or else worth all the rest,—I see thee still ;
And on thy blade and dudgeon, gouts of blood,
Which was not so before. There's no such thing !-
It is the bloody business, which informs
Thus to mine eyes.—Now o'er one half the world
Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse
The curtain'd sleep : now witchcraft celebrates
Pale Hecate's offerings ; and wither’d Murder,
(Alarmed by his sentinel, the wolf,
Whose howl's his watch,) thus with his stealthy pace,
With Tarquin's ravishing strides toward his design
Moves like a ghost.—Thou sure and firm-set earth,
Hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fear
The very stones prate of my
And take the present horror from the time,
Which now suits with it. While I threat, he lives.
(A bell rings.) I go, and it is done ; the bell invites me. Hear it not, Duncan ! for it is a knell That summons thee to heaven, or to hell !
HENRY THE FOURTH, TO SLEEP. How many
thousands of my poorest subjects
Are at this hour asleep!-Oh, gentle Sleep,
Nature's soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down,
And steep my senses in forgetfulness?
Why rather, Sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs,
Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee,
And hush'd with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber,
Than in the perfum'd chambers of the great,
Under the canopies of costly state,
And lull’d with sounds of sweetest melody?
O thou dull god, why liest thou with the vile
In loathsome beds, and leav'st the kingly couch
A watch-case to a common ’larum bell?
Wilt thou upon the high and giddy mast
up the ship-boy's eyes, and rock his brains
In cradle of the rude imperious surge ;
And in the visitation of the winds,
Who take the ruffian billows by the top,