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THE BOOK OF

POETRY FOR

FOR SCHOOLS.

0

WILLIAM SHAKSPERE.

(1564-1616.) Born at Stratford-on-Avon, in Warwickshire. The house in which he was born still standing.

Educated at the Stratford Grammar School. Married when only eighteen years of age, and was compelled, either by the wants of his family or the fear of punishment for deer-stealing, to leave his native town for London, about the year 1586. It is said that he earned his living in London for some time by holding horses at the door of the theatre. However this may be, he soon became one of the proprietors of the theatre, and commenced his unrivalled career as a dramatic writer and poet. He realized a fortune, was specially noticed by Queen Elizabeth, and, having bought a house and land at his native Stratford, he retired there in 1612. Died in 1616, and was buried in Stratford Church.

Shakspere's dramatic works are thirty-seven in number, and are usually divided into tragedies, comedies, and historical plays. The great tragedies are King Lear, Macbeth, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, and Hamlet. The chief comedies are The Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice, As You Like It, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and All's Well that Ends Well. Among the historical plays, the finest perhaps are Julius Cæsar, Coriolanus, Richard II., Richard III., and Henry VIII,

THE SEVEN AGES OF MAN,

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players :
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,

B

Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then, the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then, the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then, the soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard ;
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then, the justice ;
In fair round belly, with good capon lined,
With

eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws, and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon ;
With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side ;
His youthful hose well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness, and mere oblivion ;
.Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

As You Like It. Act ii., Sc. 7.

MERCY.
The quality of mercy is not strained,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes.
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown :
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,

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