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Canst thou, O partial sleep! give thy repose
To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude;
And, in the calmest and most stillest night,
With all appliances and means to boot,
Deny it to a king ?*

Shakspeare was evidently fully aware of the greatness of the sea, its power, its intense sublimity-but I do not think his words exhibit that extreme love of the sea and of the roaring elements which we find (sometimes perhaps only simulated) in the writers of the present day. Nothing of the Westward Ho! character. At times a feeling of horror may be discovered when speaking of the mighty deep; for instance, in Richard III, Clarence says

Methought, that Gloster stumbled ; and, in falling,
Struck me, that thought to stay him, overboard,
Into the tumbling billows of the main.
O heaven! methought, what pain it was to drown!
What dreadful noise of water in mine ears!
What sights of ugly death within mine eyes !
Methought, I saw a thousand fearful wrecks ;
A thousand men, that fishes gnaw'd upon;
Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,
Inestimable stones, unvalu'd jewels,
All scattered in the bottom of the sea.
Some lay in dead men's skulls; and, in those holes
Where eyes did once inbabit, there were crept
(As 't were in scorn of eyes) reflecting gems,
That woo'd the slimy bottom of the deep,
And mock'd the dead bones that lay scatter'd by.+

In the time of Queen Elizabeth, the sea, with its evervarying adventures and opportunities for obtaining wealth, not always by the most honourable means, began to open a new profession for the younger sons of the gentry. Drake and Greenville and their associates were many of them men of lineage and name in the western counties-Raleigh was an accomplished courtier, and kindred spirits accompanied him

• 2 Henry IV, Act ii, Scene 1.

+ Richard III, Act i, Scene 4.

to found the first English colony in honour of the Virgin Queen, and to make buccaneering inroads on the Spanish Main. In one passage some reference is made to this. It is where the father of Proteus is reproached because he did not send his son from home

While other men, of slender reputation,
Put forth their sons to seek preferment out:
Some, to the wars, to try their fortune there ;
Some, to discover islands far away;
Some, to the studious universities.*

But at the close of the sixteenth century, the sea must have been chiefly regarded as the scene of the greatest contest in which England had ever been engaged

When that great fleet invincible against her brought in vain
The richest spoils of Mexico, the bravest hearts of Spain.

All the incidents of that death-struggle and that glorious victory were fresh in men’s minds when Shakspeare wrote his plays—the greatness of the preparations of Spain, the small means of defence which this country possessed beyond brave hearts and hardy English men. There is a passage in Twelfth Night which may have been taken from some of the tales of the naval encounters with the argosies of Spain

A bawb vessel was he captain of,
For shallow draught, and bulk, unprizable;
With which such scathful grapple did he make
With the most noble bottom of our fleet,
That very envy, and the tongue of loss,
Cry'd fame and honour on bim.+

There is another passage in Cymbeline which may have reference to the same tremendous trial

* Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act i, Scene 3. + Twelfth Night, Act v, Scene 1.

Remember, sir, my liege,

The natural bravery of your isle; which stands
As Neptune's park, ribbed and paled in
With rocks unscaleable, and roaring waters;
With sands, that will not bear your enemies' boats,
But suck them up to the top-mast.*

It is probable from this and other passages that our forefathers attributed the wonderful deliverance they had experienced, in no slight degree, to that ever moving barrier of waters which surrounds the cliffs of Albion, and keeps her free from hostile foes. The same idea appears in King John, when England is described as

That pale, that white-fac'd shore,
Whose foot spurns back the ocean's roaring tides,
And coops from other lands her islanders,
Even till that England, hedg’d in with the main,
The water-walled bulwark, still secure
And confident from foreign purposes.t

It may not be out of place to quote a parallel passage from the present laureate, in which he uses the same idea, though we cannot help feeling that the isolation of Britain is gradually becoming a thing of the past,

God bless the narrow sea,
Which keeps our Britain, whole within herself,
A nation yet, the rulers and the ruled-
Some se of duty, something of a faith,
Some reverence for the laws ourselves have made,
Some patient force to change them when we will,
Some civic manhood firm against the crowd -

God bless the narrow seas !
I wish they were a whole Atlantic broad. I

I shall conclude this paper with the dying words of one whose name will ever be connected with this county, the great son of a great king, John of Gaunt, "time-honour'd

+ King John, Act ii, Scene 1.

* Cymbeline, Act ii, Scene 1. | Tennyson's Princess.


“Lancaster,” - on his death-bed, with his bodily powers oozing away, his mind turns not so much to his own son, an exile in disgrace, but on the sorrows and dangers of his country, seeking to impart wholesome counsel to her rulers, and then, like “ a prophet new inspired,” pouring forth those noble words on the land of his nativity,

This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise ;
This fortress, built by nature for herself,
Against infection and the hand of war;
This happy breed of men, this little world;
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands;
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this ENGLAND,
This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,
Fear'd by their breed, and famous by their birth.

England, bound in with the triumphant sea,
Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege
Of watery Neptune.*

* Richard II, Act ii, Scene 1.


(READ 19TH JANUARY, 1865.)

I NOW come to the second part of my subject, the merry greenwood and its inhabitants, and Shakspeare's intense love of the beauties of the country and wonderful power in describing them,-a power so great that the Puritan poet of the next generation speaks of him as

Sweetest Shakspeare, Fancy's child,
Warbling bis native wood notes wild.

In the forest in that most poetical of plays, the MidsummerNight's Dream, the two bands of lovers meet with their extraordinary adventures; thither the rustics resort for their rehearsal, choosing a green plot for their stage, and a hawthorn brake for their tyring-house; there the Queen of the Amazons is led by her lover to hear the music of the hounds. Again, in As You Like It, the various characters find refuge in sylvan fastnesses from the tyranny of an usurping Duke, and there

Exempt from public haunt,
Found tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,

Sermons in stones, and good in everything.* To a similar scene Sir Valentine fled, having forfeited the favour of the Duke of Milan--there he became the leader of a band of outlaws, and found consolation for the disappointment of his hopes, as he says :

This shadowy desert, unfrequented woods,
I better brook, than flourishing peopled towns :
Here can I sit alone, unseen of any,
And, to the nightingale's complaining notes,

Tupe my distresses, and record my woes.t
As You Like It, Act ii, Scene 1.
+ Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act v, Scene 4.

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