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Shakespeare occasionally uses more than one epithet descriptive of an object; generally for the sake of giving emphatic effect (See PleoNASMS), or to denote emotion in the speaker :
To be detected with a jealous rotten bell-wether.—Merry W., iii. 5.
For every pelting petty officer would use his.-M. for M., i. 2.
That I should love a bright particular star.--All's W., i. 1.
But such a headstrong potent fault it is.-Tw. N., iii. 4.
Where the warlike Smalus, that noble honour'd lord.-W.T., v. I.
Rough cradle for such little pretty ones !
Rude ragged nurse, old sullen playfellow for.-R. III., iv. I.
And, when he thinks, good easy man, full surely.-H. VIII., ii. 2.
And sleep in dull cold marble, where no mention.-Ibid., iii. 2.
Thou idle immaterial skein of sleave silk.-Tr. & Cr., v. 1.
To bear with those that say you are reverend grave men.-Coriol., ii. 1.
When you cast your stinking greasy caps, in hooting.--Ibid., iv. 6.
Commend me to thy honourable virtuous lord.—Timon, iii. 2.
Pluck the grave wrinkled senate from the bench,
Pluck the lin'd crutch from thy old limping sire.-Ibid., iv. I.
A subtle slippery knave, a pestilent complete knave.-Oth., ii. 1.
One may smell in such a will most rank foul disproportion.-Ibid., ii. 3.
He sometimes uses even a triple descriptive epithet :-
So are those crisped snaky golden locks.-Mer. of V., iii. 2.
A world of pretty fond adoptious christendoms.-All's W., i. 1.
When holy and devout religious men. -R. III., iii. 7.
Compassing of his salt and most hidden loose affection.-Oth., ii. 1. And in the following passage he has put into the mouth of the peppery Menenius a quadruple epithet :
A brace of unmeriting, proud, violent, testy magistrates.-Coriol., ii. 1.
In two instances he gives a specimen of heaped-up epithets. The one as a pedantic affectation :
After his undressed, unpolished, uneducated, unpruned, untrained, or rather, unlettered, or ratherest, unconfirmed fashion.—Love's L. L., iv. 2. And the other as an outpouring of indignant scorn :
A base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered, action-taking knave; a whoreson, glass-gazing, superserviceable, finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting slave.—Lear, ii. 2.
It is to be noted that Shakespeare often, as in the above passage, uses an additional epithet with a compound epithet : We must supplant those rough rug-headed kerns.—R. II., ii. 1.
In the play from which we have last quoted, there are two passages where some annotators have supposed a compound word is intended;
but where we believe a double epithet is intended in the first passage, and a double participle in the second :
The sly slow hours shall not determinate
The dateless limit of thy dear exile.-R. II., i. 3.
So, weeping, smiling, greet I thee, my earth.-Ibid., iii. 2. We think that the instances of double epithets used by Shakespeare, as above cited, and the instances of double participle, cited by us as follow, serve to confirm our view :
And so in progress to be hatch'd and born.-M. for M., ii. 2.
Why should I write this down, that's riveted,
Screw'd to my memory ?-Cym., ii. 2.
DRAMATIC LAWS AND ART. Shakespeare has demonstrated not only that he knew the classical and already existing laws of dramatic art, but that he was also capable of inventing an original code for his own use, and for that of other dramatists who should come after him. His system of dramatic time we have shown at great length, and under a separate heading devoted to that subject [See DRAMATIC TIME); while his contrivance of verisimilitude in dramatic place is also original and ingenious. As an instance of this, we would point out the remarkably numerous scenes into which his drama of “ Antony and Cleopatra” is divided, aiding to impart the effect of long time and varied place required for this play, which, historically, extends over a period of ten years, and which demands the alternate display of his characters at Rome, in Egypt, &c. Although in the fifth act there are but two scenes, in the first act of “ Antony and Cleopatra” there are five scenes; in the second act, seven scenes ; in the third act, eleven scenes ; and in the fourth act, no fewer than thirteen scenes.
He has various excellent methods of denoting place in his dramas, that serve to keep well before the mind of the spectator the spot where are supposed to transpire the incidents witnessed; and, be it remembered, this was essentially necessary at the time when our great dramatist wrote, there then being none of the modern scenic aids to imagination on the stage where his plays were enacted. He had to give vivacity to their representation, as well as to give life to their composition; and this he effected by his admirably artistic skill. Sometimes he effects this by poetically picturesque touches, marking the actual presence of the surroundings amid which the speaker is stationed :
If by your art, my dearest father, you have
Put the wild waters in this roar, allay them.
The sky, it seems, would pour down stinking pitch,
But that the sea, mounting to the welkin's cheek,
Dashes the fire out.—Temp., i. 2.
How lush and lusty the grass looks! how green !-Ibid., ii. 1.
For me, by this pale queen of night I swear.—Two G. of V., iv. 2.
The sun begins to gild the western sky;
And now it is about the very hour,
That Silvia at Friar Patrick's cell should meet mea-Two G. of V., V. I.
Whisper her ear, and tell her, I and Ursula
Walk in the orchard, and our whole discourse,
Is all of her : say that thou overheard'st us;
And bid her steal into the pleached bower,
Where honeysuckles, ripen'd by the sun,
Forbid the sun to enter.
Now, Ursula, when Beatrice doth come,
As we do trace this alley up and down,
Our talk must only be of Benedick.
So angle we for Beatrice; who even now
Is couched in the woodbine coverture.—M. Ado, iii. 1..
And look, the gentle day,
Before the wheels of Phoebus, round about
Dapples the drowsy east with spots of grey.-Ibid., v. 2.
Yet you, the murderer, look as bright, as clear
As yonder Venus her glimmering sphere.—Mid. N. D., üi. 2.
Fair Helena; who more engilds the night
Than all yon fiery oes and eyes of light.-Ibid., iii. 2.
My fairy lord, this must be done with haste,
For night's swift dragons cut the clouds full fast,
And yonder shines Aurora's harbinger.-Ibid., iii. 2.
Come, sit thee down upon this flowery bed,
While I thy amiable cheeks do coy,
And stick musk-roses in thy sleek smooth head,
And kiss thy fair large ears, my gentle joy.-Ibid., iv, I.
How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank !
Here will we sit, and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears : soft stillness and the night
Become the touches of sweet harmony.
Sit, Jessica : look, how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold.-Mer. of V., V. I.
That light we see is burning in my hall.-Ibid., v. I.
This night methinks is but the daylight sick;
It looks a little paler : 'tis a day,
Such as the day is when the sun is hid.-Ibid., v. I.
Well, I 'll end the song. Sirs, cover the while; the duke will drink under this tree.
As You L., ii. 5.
Stay yet, look back with me unto the Tower.
Pity, you ancient stones, those tender babes,
Whom envy hath immur'd within your walls !
Rough cradle for such little pretty ones !
Rude ragged nurse, old sullen playfellow
For tender princes, use my babies well !
So foolish sorrow bids your stones farewell.—R. III., iv. I.
My prophecy is but half his journey yet ;
For yonder walls, that pertly front your town.
Yond' towers, whose wanton tops do buss the clouds,
Must kiss their own feet.—Tr. & Cr., iv. 5.
By all Diana's waiting-women yond',
And by herself, I will not tell you whose.—Ibid., v. 2.
See you yond coign o' the Capitol—yond corner-stone ?-Coriol., v. 4.
But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun!
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon.-R. & Yul., ii. 2.
O, speak again, bright angel! for thou art
As glorious to this night, being o'er my head,
As is a winged messenger of heaven
Unto the white upturned wond'ring eyes
Of mortals, that fall back to gaze on him,
When he bestrides the lazy-pacing clouds,
And sails upon the bosom of the air.-R. & Jul., ii. 2.
The orchard walls are high, and hard to climb,
And the place death, considering who thou art,
If any of my kinsmen find thee here.-
With love's light wings did I o'erperch these walls.-Ibid., ii. 2.
Lady, by yonder blessed moon I swear,
That tips with silver all these fruit-tree tops.- Ibid., ii. 2.
The grey-ey'd morn smiles on the frowning night,
Checkering the eastern clouds with streaks of light;
And flecked darkness like a drunkard reels
From forth day's path and Titan's fiery wheels:
Now, ere the sun advance his burning eye,
The day to cheer, and night's dank dew to dry,
I must up-fill this osier-cage of ours
With baleful weeds and precious-juiced Aowers.-Ibid., ii. 3.
Wilt thou be gone? it is not yet near day:
It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
That pierc'd the fearful hollow of thine ear;
Nightly she sings on yon pomegranate tree :
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale.-
It was the lark, the herald of the morn,
No nightingale: look, love, what envious streaks
Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east :
Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain-tops.-Ibid., iii. 5.
I'll say, yon grey is not the morning's eye,
'Tis but the pale reflex of Cynthia's brow ;
Nor that is not the lark, whose notes do beat
The vaulty heaven so high above our heads.—Ibid., iii, 5.
O, now be gone; more light and light it grows.-Ibid., iii. 5.
Give me thy torch, boy: hence, and stand aloof;
Yet put it out, for I would not be seen.
Under yond' yew-trees lay thee all along,
Holding thine ear close to the hollow ground;
So shall no foot upon the churchyard tread
(Being loose, unfirm, with digging up of graves),
But thou shalt hear it.-Ibid., v. 3.
I'll bury thee in a triumphant grave-
A grave? O, no, a lantern, slaughter'd youth;
For here lies Juliet, and her beauty makes
This vault a feasting presence full of light.
O my love! my wife !
Death, that hath suck'd the honey of thy breath,
Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty:
Thou art not conquer'd; beauty's ensign yet
Is crimson in thy lips, and in thy cheeks,
And death's pale flag is not advanced there.-Ibid., v. 3.
What torch is yond', that vainly lends his light
To grubs and eyeless skulls ? as I discern,
It burneth in the Capels' monument.-Ibid., v. 3.
As I did sleep under this yew-tree here,
I dreamt my master and another fought, ..
Alack, alack, what blood is this, which stains
The stony entrance of this sepulchre ?
What mean these masterless and gory swords
To be discolourd by this place of peace ?--R. & Jul., v. 3.
Let me look back upon thee. O, thou wall,
That girdlest in those wolves, dive in the earth,
And fence not Athens. . . . Nothing I'll bear from thee,
But nakedness, thou detestable town!
Take thou that too, with multiplying bans !
Timon will to the woods; where he shall find
Th' unkindest beast more kinder than mankind.
The gods confound (hear me, you good gods all)
The Athenians both within and out that wall !--Timon., iv, 1.
Why this spade ? this place ?
This slave-like habit? and these looks of care?
Thy flatterers yet wear silk, drink wine, lie soft;
Hug their diseas'd perfumes, and have forgot
That ever Timon was. Shame not these woods
By putting on the cunning of a carper..
That the bleak air, thy boisterous chamberlain,
Will put thy shirt on warm? Will these moss'd trees
That have outliv'd the eagle, page thy heels,
And skip when thou point'st out. Will the cold brook,
Candied with ice, caudle thy morning taste,
To cure thy o'ernight's surfeit?-Ibid., iv. 3.
Here lies the east : doth not the day break here ?
O, pardon, sir, it doth; and yon grey lines
That fret the clouds, are messengers of day.-
You shall confess that you are both deceiv'd.
Here, as I point my sword, the sun arises ;
Which is a great way growing on the south,
Weighing the youthful season of the year.
Some two months hence, up higher toward the north
He first presents his fire; and the high east
Stands, as the Capitol, directly here.- 7ul. C., ii. 1.
Say from whence
You owe this strange intelligence; or why
Upon this blasted heath you stop our way
With such prophetic greeting.–Macb., i. 3.
This castle hath a pleasant seat ; the air
Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself
Unto our gentle senses.-
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, or coign 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.-Ibid., i. 6.
Thou see'st the heavens, as troubled with man's act,
Threaten his bloody stage : by the clock 'tis day,
And yet dark night strangles the travelling lamp :
Is 't night's predominance, or the day's shame,
That darkness does the face of earth entomb,
When living light should kiss it ?-Ibid., ii. 4.
Last night of all,
When yond' same star, that's westward from the pole,