Page images


From the Pastoral Fragment, entitled "The Sad Shepherd."


Know ye the witch's dell?

Scathlock. No more than I do know the walks of hell.

Alken. Within a gloomy dimble she doth dwell,

Down in a pit, o'ergrown with brakes and briars,

Close by the ruins of a shaken abbey,

Torn with an earthquake down unto the ground,
'Mongst graves and grots, near an old charnel-house,
Where you shall find her sitting in her form,

As fearful and melancholic as that

She is about; with caterpillars' kells,

And knotty cobwebs, rounded in with spells.
Then she steals forth to relief in the fogs,
And rotten mists, upon the fens and bogs,

Down to the drowned lands of Lincolnshire;

To make ewes cast their lambs, swine eat their farrow,
And housewives' tun not work, nor the milk churn!
Writhe children's wrists, and suck their breath in sleep,
Get vials of their blood! and where the sea
Casts up his slimy ooze, search for a weed
To open locks with, and to rivet charms,
Planted about her in the wicked feat
Of all her mischiefs; which are manifold.
John. I wonder such a story could be told
Of her dire deeds.

George. I thought a witch's banks

Had inclosed nothing but the merry pranks
Of some old woman.

[blocks in formation]

Scath. As it would quickly appear had we the store Of his collects.


Ay, this good learned man

Can speak her right.

Scar. He knows her shifts and haunts

Alken. And all her wiles and turns. The venom'd plants
Wherewith she kills! where the sad mandrake grows,
Whose groans are deathful; and dead-numbing night-shade,
The stupefying hemlock, adder's tongue,

And martagan: the shrieks of luckless owls
We hear, and croaking night-crows in the air!
Green-bellied snakes, blue fire-drakes in the sky,
And giddy flitter-mice with leather wings!
The scaly beetles, with their habergeons,
That make a humming murmur as they fly!
There in the stocks of trees, white fairies do dwell,
And span-long elves that dance about a pool,
With each a little changeling in their arms !
The airy spirits play with falling stars,
And mount the spheres of fire to kiss the moon!
While she sits reading by the glow-worm's light,
Or rotten wood, o'er which the worm hath crept,
The baneful schedule of her nocent charms.




From the Masque of Queens.

Charm. The owl is abroad, the bat and the toad,

And so is the cat-a-mountain ;

The ant and the mole both sit in a hole,

And the frog peeps out of the fountain :
The dogs they do bay, and the timbrels play,
The spindle is now a-turning;

The moon it is red, and the stars are fled,

But all the sky is a-burning.

1st Hag. I have been all day looking after
A raven, feeding upon a quarter;

And soon as she turn'd her beak to the south,
I snatch'd this morsel out of her mouth.

2nd Hag. I have been gathering wolves' hairs,
The mad dog's foam, and the adder's ears;
The spurging of a dead man's eyes,

And all since the evening star did rise.

3rd Hag. I, last night, lay all alone

On the ground to hear the mandrake groan ;
And pluck'd him up, though he grew full low,
And as had done, the cock did crow.

4th Hag. And I have been choosing out this skull
From charnel-houses that were full;

From private grots, and public pits;
And frighted a sexton out of his wits.

5th Hag. Under a cradle I did creep,

By day; and when the child was asleep
At night, I suck'd the breath; and rose,
And pluck'd the nodding nurse by the nose.

6th Hag. I had a dagger: what did I with that?
Kill'd an infant to have his fat.

I scratch'd out the eyes of the owl before,

I tore the bat's wing; what would you have more?

Dame. Yes, I have brought to help our vows

Horned poppy, cypress boughs,

The fig-tree wild that grows on tombs,
And juice that from the larch-tree comes,
The basilisk's blood and the viper's skin;

And now our orgies let us begin.

You fiends and fairies, if yet any be

Worse than ourselves, you that have quak'd to see

These knots untied (she unties them)-exhale earth's rottenest


And strike a blindness through these blazing tapers.

Charm. Deep, O deep we lay thee to sleep;

We leave thee drink by, if thou chance to be dry;
Both milk and blood, the dew and the flood;
We breathe in thy bed, at the foot and the head;
And when thou dost wake, Dame Earth shall quake
Such a birth to make, as is the Blue Drake.

Dame. Stay; all our charms do nothing win
Upon the night; our labour dies,

Our magic feature will not rise,
Nor yet the storm! We must repeat
More direful voices far, and beat

The ground with vipers, till it sweat.

Charm. Blacker go in, and blacker come out :

At thy going down, we give thee a shout;


At thy rising again thou shalt have two;
And if thou dost what we'd have thee do,
Thou shalt have three, thou shalt have four,
Hoo! har! har! hoo!

A cloud of pitch, a spur and a switch,
To haste him away, and a whirlwind play,
Before and after, with thunder for laughter
And storms of joy, of the roaring boy,

His head of a drake, his tail of a snake.

(A loud and beautiful music is heard, and the Witches vanish.)



Silenus bids his Satyrs awaken a couple of Sylvans, who have fallen asleep while they should have kept watch.

Buz, quoth the blue fly,

Hum, quoth the bee;

Bůz ǎnd hum they cry,

And so do we.

In his eàr, in his nòse,

Thùs, do you see?
Hè ate the dormouse;

Elsè it was hè.

"It is impossible that anything could better express than this, either the wild and practical joking of the satyrs, or the action of the thing described, or the quaintness and fitness of the images, or the melody and even the harmony, the intercourse, of the musical words, one with another. None but a boon companion with a very musical ear could have written it. It was not for nothing that Ben lived in the time of the fine old English composers, Bull and Ford, or partook his canary with his "lov'd Alphonso," as he calls him, the Signor Ferrabosco. -A Jar of Honey from Mount Hybla, in Ainsworth's Magazine, No. xxx. p. 86.

« PreviousContinue »