Imatges de pÓgina


O war, thou son of hell,

angry heavens do make their minister.

King Henry VI., Part II., v. 2.

Thou know'st

The end of war's uncertain.1-Coriolanus, v. 3.
O Thou! whose captain I account myself,
Look on my forces with a gracious eye;
Put in their hands thy bruising-irons of wrath,
That they may crush down with a heavy fall
Th' usurping helmets of our adversaries!
Make us thy ministers of chastisement,
That we may praise thee in thy victory.?

King Richard III., v. 3.

Both in Scripture, and in Shakspere, the sword is supposed to be, in the time of peace, as it were sleeping in its scabbard, and to awake at the noisy din of war.3 In the Bible, we read of the sword that devoureth: and the same forcible metaphor is used by our Poet when he says that

Hungry war opens his vasty jaws.-King Henry V., ii. 4.

But it is needless to multiply examples to show the correspondence of Shakspere's language with that of the Inspired Writings, on every circumstance connected with War and Peace. The self-same images are constantly employed, and they are employed because no others could be used with equal force and appropriateness.

It is gratifying to observe that not only on the subjects already mentioned, but also on the profoundest mysteries of our Holy Religion, a like correspondence between Holy Scripture and Shakspere is clearly discernible. Our Poet tells us of

That dread King, that took our state upon Him
To free us from His Father's wrathful curse.5
King Henry VI., Part II., iii. 2.

1 1 Kings, xx. 11. 21 Chronicles, xxix. 11.

4 2 Samuel, xi. 25.

3 Zechariah, xiii. 7. 5 Romans, v. 9.


And of

Christ's dear blood, shed for our grievous sins.1
King Richard III., i. 4.

Allusions are found in his writings to the "sepulchre of Christ;" to the "holy fields of Palestine over whose acres walked those blessed feet which were nail'd for our redemption to the bitter cross"2-Henry IV., Part I., i. 1; of "the death of Him that died for all."-King Henry VI., Part II., i. 1.

We find there also such passages as the following, whose resemblance to Holy Scripture we need scarcely more than mention :

If ever I were traitor,

My name be blotted from the book of life.-King Richard II., i. 3. Cf. Philippians, iv. 3; Revelation, xxii. 19.

With Cain go wander through the shade of night.3

King Richard II., v. 6.

We'll set thee to school to an ant, to teach thee there's no labouring in the winter.-King Lear, ii. 4.

We read there of "blood," which,

Like sacrificing Abel's, cries,

Even from the tongueless caverns of the earth.5—Richard II., i. 1.


Ignorance is the curse of God,

Knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.7

Again :

King Henry VI., Part II., iv. 7.

God shall be my hope,8

My stay, my guide,1o and lantern i1 to my feet.-ii. 3.

1 Mark, xiv. 24.

4 Proverbs, xxx. 25. 6 Proverbs, xix. 2. 9 Psalm xviii. 18.

2 Mark, vi. 6.

5 Genesis, iv.;
7 Genesis, iii. 5.
10 Psalm xlviii. 14.

3 Genesis, iv. 12, 16.
Hebrews, xii. 24.
8 Psalm lxxi. 5.
11 Psalm cxix. 105.

Now God be praised! that to believing souls

Gives light in darkness, comfort in despair.1―ii. 1.

Withhold thy indignation, Mighty Heaven,

And tempt us not to bear above our power.2-King John, v. 6.

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We are there told, of "Wisdom crying out in the streets and no man regarding it,"3—Henry IV., Part I., i. 2; of "Heaven the widow's champion and defence,' Richard II., i. 1; "A widow cries Be husband to me Heavens,"-King John, iii. 1, in exact accordance with God's consoling assurance, by the mouth of Isaiah, "Thy Maker is thy husband; the Lord of Hosts is His name ; " but on this subject I shall say no more in this place.

The will of Heaven

Be done in this and all things.-King Henry VIII., i. 1.

Here we have a clear and distinct echo from the Prayer which our Lord Himself has taught us.


O God, thy arm was here,

And not to us, but to thy arm alone
Ascribe we all .. Take it, God,

For it is only thine.-King Henry V., iv. 8.

The duty which is so often imposed upon us in the Bible, of "examining our own selves," is echoed in the words of Shakspere.-As You Like It, iii. 2 :

I will chide no breather in the world, but myself against whom I know most faults.


Though some of you, like Pilate, wash your hands
Showing an outward pity; yet you, Pilates

Have here delivered me to my sour cross,

And water cannot wash away your sin.5-King Richard II., iv. 1.

1 2 Samuel, xxii. 29; 2 Corinthians, vii. 6. Proverbs, i. 20, 21.

4 Isaiah, liv. 5.

2 1 Corinthians, x. 13.

" Matthew, xxvii. 24.

It is as hard . . . . as for a camel

To thread the postern of a needle's eye.1—v. 5.

Confess yourselves to heaven,

Repent what's past, avoid what is to come.2-Hamlet, iii. 4.
Then God forgive the sin of all those souls
That to their everlasting residence

Before the dew of evening fall, shall fleet

In dreadful trial of our kingdom's king.-King John, ii. 1.

O what may man within him hide,

Though angel on the outward side!—Measure for Measure, iii. 2.

Again; as a sort of commentary on the mote and the beam, mentioned by our Blessed Lord, Shakspere says:


Go to your bosom;

Knock there, and ask your heart, what it doth know

That's like my brother's fault; if it confess

A natural guiltiness, such as is his,

Let it not sound a thought upon your tongue
Against my brother.-Measure for Measure, ii. 2.

The trust I have is in mine innocence,

And therefore am I bold and resolute.5

King Henry VI., Part II., iv. 4.

Again: "in the managing of quarrels you may see he is wise; for either he avoids them with great discretion, or undertakes them with a Christian-like fear.6-Much Ado about Nothing, ii. 3.

In Shakspere we read of "Slander's venom spear,"7— King Richard II., i. 1; and of one of whom it is said, "Is he a lamb? his skin is surely lent him, For he's inclined as is the ravenous wolf,"8-King Henry VI., Part II., iii. 1 ; and of a tongue more poisonous than an adder's tooth," -King Henry VI., Part III., i. 4; of one who "could smile and murder while he smiled," 10-iii. 2; "the words


1 Matthew, xix. 24.

3 Matthew, xxiii. 37.

5 Proverbs, xxviii. 1; Nehemiah, vi. 11;

6 Proverbs, xvii. 14. 8 Matthew, vii. 15.

2 Isaiah, i. 16, 17.
4 Matthew, vii. 3.
Proverbs, xxviii. 1.
Ecclus., xxviii. 18, 19.
10 Matthew, xxvi. 49.

7 Proverbs, x. 18;
9 Psalm cxl. 3.

of whose mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords."1

In another place we discover a manifest allusion to the Parable of the Tares of the Field: 2

His foes are so enrooted with his friends,
That, plucking to unfix an enemy,

He doth unfasten so, and shake a friend.3

Henry IV., Part II., ii. 1.

Again; the scriptural allusions in the following passages are evident:

purpose; 4

The devil can cite Scripture for his
An evil soul producing holy witness
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek;
A goodly apple rotten at the heart;

O what a goodly outside falsehood hath.5

Merchant of Venice, i. 3.

Our thoughts here turn instinctively to the whited sepulchres, (mentioned by our Lord,) fair to look upon, but full of rottenness and corruption."

What again can be more scriptural than this?

You have too much respect upon the world;

They lose it that do buy it with much care.

Or than these?

Merchant of Venice, i. 1.

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Truth will come to light.7-Merchant of Venice, ii. 2.

To do a great right do a little wrong,

It must not be.-iv. 1.

How strictly in accordance with Scripture is the expression in Shakspere, "the muddy vesture of decay," as

3 Matthew, xiii. 29.


4 Matthew, iv. 6. 5 Deuteronomy, xxxii. 32. Matthew, xxiii. 27.

1 Psalm lv. 21.

2 Matthew, xiii. 25.

7 Numbers, xxxii. 23.

8 2 Corinthians, v. 1, &c.

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