But like still-pining Tantalus he sits,
And useless barns the harvest of his wits;

Having no other pleasure of his gain
But torment that it cannot cure his pain.

“ So then he hath it, when he cannot use it,
And leaves it to be master'd by his young,
Who in their pride do presently abuse it:
Their father was too weak, and they too strong,
To hold their cursed-blessed fortune long.

The sweets we wish for turn to loathed sours,
Even in the moment that we call them ours.

Unruly blasts wait on the tender spring;
Unwholesome weeds take root with precious flowers ;
The adder hisses where the sweet birds sing;
What virtue breeds iniquity devours :
We have no good that we can say is ours,

But ill-annexed Opportunity
Or kills his life, or else his quality.

“ O Opportunity! thy guilt is great: 'Tis thou that execut'st the traitor's treason; Thou sett'st the wolf where he the lamb may get; Whoever plots the sin, thou 'point'st the season; 'T is thou that spurn'st at right, at law, at reason;

And in thy shady cell, where none may spy him, Sits Sin, to seize the souls that wander by him.

« Thou mak'st the vestal violate her oath;
Thou blow'st the fire when temperance is thaw'd ;
Thou smother'st honesty, thou murther'st troth;
Thou foul abetter! thou notorious bawd!
Thou plantest scandal, and displacest laud:

Thou ravisher, thou traitor, thou false thief,
Thy honey turns to gall, thy joy to grief!

Thy secret pleasure turns to open shame, Thy private feasting to a public fast;

Thy smoothing" titles to a ragged" name;
Thy sugar'd tongue to bitter wormwood taste :
Thy violent vanities can never last.

How comes it then, vile Opportunity,
Being so bad, such numbers seek for thee?

“When wilt thou be the humble suppliant's friend,
And bring him where his suit may be obtain'd?
When wilt thou sorto an hour great strifes to end?
Or free that soul which wretchedness hath chain'd ?
Give physic to the sick, ease to the pain'd?

The poor, lame, blind, halt, creep, cry out for thee;
But they ne'er meet with Opportunity.

“The patient dies while the physician sleeps;
The orphan pines while the oppressor feeds;
Justice is feasting while the widow weeps ;
Advice is sporting while infection breeds; d
Thou grant'st no time for charitable deeds:

Wrath, envy, treason, rape, and murder's rages,
Thy heinous hours wait on them as their pages.

When truth and virtue have to do with thee,
A thousand crosses keep them from thy aid ;
They buy thy help: but Sin ne'er gives a fee,
He gratis comes; and thou art well appay'do
As well to hear as grant what he hath said.

My Collatine would else have come to me
When Tarquin did, but he was stay'd by thee.


Ragged is here used in the sense of contemptible. It means something broken , tom, and therefore worthless. See Note on · Henry IV., Part II.,' Act I. Scene 1. Sort-assign, appropriate. So in “ Richard III. :

“ But I will sort a pitchy day for thee." & The constant allusions of the Elizabethan poets to that familiar terror the plague show how completely the evil, whether present or absent, was associated with the habitual thoughts of the people. Advice is here used in the sense of government, municipal or civil; and the line too correctly describes the carelessness of those in high places, who abated not their feasting and their revelry while pestilence was doing its terrible work around them.

Appay'd—satisfied, pleased. Well appayed, ill appayed, are constantly used by Chaucer and other ancient writers.

Guilty thou art of murder and of theft;
Guilty of perjury and subornation;
Guilty of treason, forgery, and shift;
Guilty of incest, that abomination:
An accessary by thine inclination

To all sins past, and all that are to come,
From the creation to the general doom.

Mis-shapen Time, copesmate of ugly night,
Swift subtle post, carrier of grisly care,
Eater of youth, false slave to false delight,
Base watch of woes, sin's packhorse, virtue's snare;
Thou nursest all, and murtherest all that are.

O hear me then, injurious, shifting Time!
Be guilty of my death, since of my crime.

Why hath thy servant, Opportunity,
Betray'd the hours thou gav'st me to repose ?
Cancell'd my fortunes, and enchained me
To endless date of never-ending woes?
Time's office is to fine the hate of foes ;

To eat up errors by opinion bred,
Not spend the dowry of a lawful bed.

“ Time's glory is to calm contending kings,
To unmask falsehood, and bring truth to light,
To stamp the seal of time in aged things,
To wake the morn, and sentinel the night,
To wrong the wronger till he render right;

To ruinate proud buildings with thy hours,
And smear with dust their glittering golden towers:

“ To fill with worm-holes stately monuments,
To feed oblivion with decay of things,
To blot old books, and alter their contents,
To pluck the quills from ancient ravens' wings,
To dry the old oak's sap, and cherish springs;!

« To fine -- to bring to an end.
o Springs—shoots, saplings. Time, which dries up the old oak's

sap, the young plants.


Lending him wit that to bad debtors lends :

To spoil antiquities of hammer'd steel,

And turn the giddy round of Fortune's wheel;
" To show the beldame daughters of her daughter,
To make the child a man, the man a child,
To slay the tiger that doth live by slaughter,
To tame the unicorn and lion wild,
To mock the subtle, in themselves beguild;
To cheer the ploughman with increaseful crops,
And waste huge stones with little water-drops.
Why work'st thou mischief in thy pilgrimage,
Unless thou couldst return to make amends ?

poor retiringa minute in an age
Would purchase thee a thousand thousand friends,

O, this dread night, wouldst thou one hour come back,

I could prevent this storm, and shun thy wrack!
" Thou ceaseless lackey to eternity,
With some mischance cross Tarquin in his flight:
Devise extremes beyond extremity,
To make him curse this cursed crimeful night:
Let ghastly shadows his lewd eyes affright;

And the dire thought of his committed evil
Shape every bush a hideous shapeless devil.

[ocr errors]


“ Disturb his hours of rest with restless trances,
Afflict him in his bed with bedrid groans;
Let there bechance him pitiful mischances,
To make him moan, but pity not his moans:
Stone him with harden'd hearts, harder than stones;

And let mild women to him lose their mildness,

Wilder to him than tigers in their wildness. "Let him have time to tear his curled hair, Let him have time against himself to rave,

* Retiring is here used in the sense of coming back again. Curked hair is the characteristic of Tarquin, as it was of all men of high rank


Let him have time of Time's help to despair,
Let him have time to live a loathed slave,
Let him have time a beggar's orts to crave;

And time to see one that by alms doth live
Disdain to him disdained scraps to give.

Let him have time to see his friends his foes,
And merry fools to mock at him resort;
Let him have time to mark how slow time goes
In time of sorrow, and how swift and short
His time of folly and his time of sport:

And ever let his unrecalling crime
Have time to wail the abusing of his time.

“ O Time, thou tutor both to good and bad,
Teach me to curse him that thou taught'st this ill!
At his own shadow let the thief run mad!
Himself himself seek every hour to kill !
Such wretched hands such wretched blood should spill:

For who so base would such an office have
As slanderous death's-man to so base a slave?

“ The baser is he, coming from a king,
To shame his hope with deeds degenerate.
The mightier man, the mightier is the thing
That makes him honour'd, or begets him hate;
For greatest scandal waits on greatest state.

The moon being clouded, presently is miss'd,
But little stars may hide them when they list.

“The crow may bathe his coal-black wings in mire,
And unperceiv'd fly with the filth away;
But if the like the snow-white swan desire,
The stain upon his silver down will stay.
Poor grooms are sightless night, kings glorious day.

in Shakspere's time. Perhaps it implied a notion of luxuriousness. In this way we have “ the curled Antony;" and in Othello'

“ The wealthy curled darlings of our nation." Unrecallingnot to be recalled. The elder writers use the participle with much more licence than we do.

« VorigeDoorgaan »