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Perhaps Shakspeare is rarely more successful in any of his illustrations than in those taken from the habits of birds. For instance, in Titus Andronicus, the wicked Queen of the Goths declares

The eagle suffers little birds to sing,
And is not careful what they mean thereby;

Knowing that with the shadow of his wings,
He can at pleasure stint their melody.*

Again, in Macbeth, where Lady Macduff speaks of the flight

of her husband, she says—

He loves us not;

He wants the natural touch: for the poor wren,
The most diminutive of birds, will fight,

Her young ones in her nest, against the owl.+

In Richard III, when the spiteful hump-backed Gloster denounces his enemies, he says

The world is grown so bad,
That wrens may prey where eagles dare not perch.‡

In Henry IV, where Westmoreland brings the king intelligence of the utter defeat of his enemies, the latter replies

O Westmoreland, thou art a summer-bird,
Which ever in the haunch of winter sings
The lifting up of day.§

In the closing scene of the life of the gentle monarch Henry VI, he turns on the murderer of his son, with bolder words than were his wont :

The bird, that hath been limed in a bush,

With trembling wings misdoubteth every bush :

And I, the hapless male to one sweet bird,
Have now the fatal object in my eye,

Where my poor young was lim'd, was caught, and kill'd.

As the altercation becomes warmer, he upbraids Gloster with

all the evil omens which attended his birth:

* Titus Andronicus, Act iv, Scene 4. Richard III, Act i, Scene 3.

+ Macbeth, Act iv, Scene 2.

§ 2 Henry IV, Act iv, Scene 4.

The owl shriek'd at thy birth, an evil sign;

The night-crow cried, aboding luckless time;


Dogs howl'd, and hideous tempests shook down trees;
The raven rook'd her on the chimney's top,
And chattering pies in dismal discords sung.*

One of the most beautiful passages relating to birds is in Macbeth, a play which contains more allusions to the feathered fowl than any other; it is where Banquo speaks of Macbeth's castle :

This guest of summer,
The temple-haunting martlet, does approve,
By his lov'd mansionry, that the heaven's breath,
Smells wooingly here: no jutty, frieze, buttress,
Nor coigne of vantage, but this bird hath made
His pendent bed, and procreant cradle: Where they
Most breed and haunt, I have observ'd, the air
Is delicate.+

But Shakspeare's illustrations are not confined to the beautiful songsters of the grove, the harbingers of spring, the sign to man that he must soar upwards to another and a purer world. The crawling things of the ground, the insects flitting through the air, find a place in his verses. Thus he mentions "the tender horns of cockled snails," "the poor harmless fly "with his pretty buzzing melody," "the red-hipp'd humble-bee

on the top of a thistle," "the gilded butterflies," "the shard"borne beetle with his drowsy hums," "the snake and her "enamell'd skin," "the adder's fork and blind-worm's sting." The band of fairies in their chorus warn the hosts of insects from the haunt of their sylvan queen; the two bands seem to be brought together for the sake of comparison, and they seem in some respects to dispute the rule of the night.

Perhaps the finest passage on any branch of the insect world is Shakspeare's account of the social policy of the "bees. Many poets ancient and modern have described their order and industry and economy and regal form of government,

* 3 Henry VI, Act v, Scene 6.

+ Macbeth, Act i, Scene 6.

but they have none of them produced anything more beautiful than the following. It occurs in the scene in Henry V, where the young King and his council discuss the foreign policy of the kingdom; the Archbishop speaks of the order and obedience of the body politic, and thus compares it

For so work the honey bees;
Creatures, that, by a rule in nature, teach
The act of order to a peopled kingdom.
They have a king, and officers of sorts:
Where some, like magistrates, correct at home;
Others, like merchants, venture trade abroad;
Others, like soldiers, armed in their stings,
Make boot upon the summer's velvet buds;
Which pillage they with merry march bring home

To the tent-royal of their emperor:

Who, busied in his majesty, surveys

The singing masons building roofs of gold;
The civil citizens kneading up the honey;
The poor mechanick porters crowding in
Their heavy burdens at his narrow gate;
The sad-ey'd justice, with his surly hum,
Delivering o'er to éxecutors pale
The lazy yawning drone.*

Flowers are so often introduced in Shakspeare's plays, that it has been suggested that his original calling was that of a gardener. I think, however, that he as frequently brings in the wild flowers of the fields and the woods, the village maiden's wreaths and posies, as those of the highly cultivated garden. Wherever they appear, they give proof that they are more the offspring of nature than of art. For instance, in the Winter's Tale, at the sheep shearing feast, where Perdita receives the guests and gives them flowers, she says—

Here's flowers for you;
Hot lavender, mints, savory, marjoram;
The marigold, that goes to bed with the sun,
And with him rises weeping; these are flowers
Of middle summer, and I think, they are given
To men of middle age.

• Henry V, Act i, Scene 2.

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Poor Ophelia, the sometime rose of May, her mind overpowered by her father's death, her head fantastically crowned with flowers, presents us with a scene which Shakspeare evidently painted from the life. "There's rosemary, that's "for remembrance; pray you, love, remember; and there is 'pansies, that's for thoughts. There's fennel for you, and "columbines:-there's rue for you; and here's some for me:


we may call it, herb of grace o' Sundays:-you may wear "your rue with a difference.-There's a daisy :--I would give you some violets; but they withered all, when my father "died."t

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That come before the swallow dares, and take
The winds of March with beauty; violets dim
But sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes,
Or Cytherea's breath; pale primroses,
That die unmarried, ere they can behold
Bright Phoebus in his strength; bold oxlips, and
The crown imperial; lilies of all kinds,
The flower-de-luce being one! O, these, I lack,
To make you garlands of.*

Again, in the lines describing Ophelia's death, we have a very pretty piece of floral scenery, which has probably been suggested to Shakspeare by some actual scene.

There is a willow grows ascaunt the brook,

That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream;
There with fantastick garlands did she make
Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,
And on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds,
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke,
When down her weedy trophies, and herself,
Fell in the weeping brook.t

Lear, his poor brain cracked by his elder daughters' unkindness and by the bodily sufferings he had undergone, replaces the royal crown he had lost by one of another kind.

+ Hamlet, Act iv, Scene 5.

Winter's Tale, Act iv, Scene 3.
Hamlet, Act iv, Scene 7.

As mad as the vex'd sea: singing aloud;
Crown'd with rank fumiter, and furrow weeds,
With harlocks, hemlock, nettles, cuckoo-flowers,
Darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow
In our sustaining corn.*

When the sons of Cymbeline find Imogen, as they suppose, dead, they lament her loss, and, to show their grief, propose to scatter flowers over her tomb.

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From these passages it is curious to see how much Shakspeare has associated flowers with sorrow: he has brought them in to give a tone and colouring to some picture of human melancholy, quite as often as to deck some festive scene or occasion for rejoicing.

He seems to have been really fond of employing figures taken from the common weeds of the field. For instance, when the angry Hotspur broods over the rebellion he is plotting, he exclaims, "but I tell you, my lord fool, out of "this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety." Again, in Henry V, when the grave bishops discuss the character of their new king and his previous riotous career, Ely says

The strawberry grows underneath the nettle;
And wholesome berries thrive and ripen best,
Neighbour'd by fruit of baser quality.§

I will now quote two or three of the most beautiful

* Lear, Act iv, Scene 4.
1 Henry IV, Act ii, Scene 3.

+ Cymbeline, Act iv, Scene 2.

§ Henry V, Act i, Scene 1.


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