Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “[Excerpts from Shakespeare],” manuscript, undated but possibly @1829, 1 page, 2 sides


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[front:]

Shakspeare.

[column 1:]

The very rats

Instinctively had quit it.   Tempest.

 

Nothing of him that doth fade

But doth suffer a sea-change

Into something rich and strange.

Ib.

 

And but he’s something stained

With grief that’s beauty’s canker, thou mighst [[might’st]] call him

A goodly person.   Ib.

 

Most sure the Goddess

On whom these airs attend.   Ib.

 

Look! He’s winding up the watch of his wits

And by and bye it will strike.   Ib

 

But these sweet thoughts do even refresh my labors

Most busyless when I do it.

Ib.

 

I do beseech you

Chiefly that I may set it in my prayers

What is your name?

Ib

 

Every third tho’t shall be my grave

Ib

 

Yet writers say as in the sweetest bud

The eating canker dwells, so eating Love

Inhabits in the finest wits of all

2 Gentl: Of Verona.

 

Muse not that I thus suddenly proceed

For what I will I will — and there’s an end

Ib

 

And when that hour oerslips me in the day

Wherein I sigh not Julia for thy take

The next ensuing hour some foul mischance

Torment me for my love’s forgetfulness.  Ib

 

For Orpheus’ lute was strung with poet’s sinews.

Ib

 

Are you content to be our general

To make a virtue of necessity

And live as we do in this wilderness?

Ib

 

What say you to young master Fenton

he capers, he dances, he has eyes of youth

he writes verses, he speaks holiday, he

smells April and May — he will every

he will carry’t, tis in his buttons, he will

carry’t.

Merry Wives of Windsor

 

Besides these other bars he lays before me

My riots past — my wild societies

Ib.

 

Hence bashful cunning

And promt [[prompt]] me plain and holy innocence

I am your wife if you will marry me.

Tempest

[column 2:]

For I can sing

And speak to him in many sorts of music.

12th Night

 

He plays on the viol de gambo, and speaks

3 or 4 languages word for word without

book — and hath all the good gifts

of nature.

Ib

 

It shall become thee well to act my woes

Ib

 

And these that are foods let them use

their talents.

Ib

 

Two faults madonna

That drink and counsel will amend

Ib

 

Misprison in the highest degree

Ib

 

I think his soul is in hell madonna —

I know his soul is in heaven, fool

Ib

 

Lady you are the cruellest she alive

If you will lead these graces to the grave

And leave the world no copy.

Ib

 

I see you what you are — you are too proud

But if you were the devil you are fair

Ib

 

I am a gentleman — I’ll be sworn thou art.

Ib

 

Antonio: let me but know of you whither

you are bound. Sebastian: No sooth, Sir,

My determinate voyage is mere extravagancy.   Ib

 

Poor lady! She were better love a dream!

Ib

 

Do not our lives consist of the 4 elements?

I’ faith so they say — but I think

it rather consists of eating and drinking.

Ib

 

O what a deal of scorn looks beautiful

In the contempt and anger of his lip

Ib

 

I pray you let us satisfy our eyes

With the memorials, and the things of fame

That do renown this city.

Ib

 

There comes the countess — now heaven walks on Earth

Ib

 

More than I love these eyes — more than my life

More by all mores than e’er I shall love wife.

Ib

 

A contract of eternal bond of love

Attest by the holy close of lips

Ib

[back:]

[column 1:]

Since when my watch hath told me towards my grave,

I have travelled but 2 hours.

Ib

 

We took him for a coward

But he’s the very devil incarnate

Ib

 

Pardon me sweet one even for the vows

We made each other yet so late ago

Ib

 

One face — one voice — one habit — and 2 persons

Ib

 

What countryman? what name? what parentage?

Ib

 

But we do learn

His givings out were of an infinite distance

From his true meant design.

Measure for Measure

 

Falling in the flames of her own youth.

Ib

 

Lets write good angel on the devil’s horn.

Ib

 

An’ he had been a dog that should have

howled thus — they would have hanged him.

Much Ado about nothing.

 

O what me may do! what men dare do!

what men daily do — not knowing what

they do!

Ib

 

The idea of her life shall sweetly creep

Into his study of imagination.

Ib

 

Done to death by slanderer’s tongues

Was the hero that here lies.

Ib

 

And in the spiced Indian air by night

Full often has she gossip’d by my side

Mid: Night’s Dream

 

How came her eyes so bright? Not with salt tears.

Ib

 

And those things do best please me

Which befall preposterously

Ib

 

The thrice 3 muses mourning for the death

Of Learning late deceased in beggary.

Ib

 

And one in all the world’s new fashions planted

That hath a mint of phrases in his brain

Love’s Labor Lost

 

But I protest I love to hear him lie

And I will use him for my minstrelsy

Ib

 

Devise wit — write pen — for I am for whole

volumes in folio

Ib

 

What judgement shall I dread doing no wrong?

Merchant of Venice.

[column 2:]

Here will we sit and let the sounds of music

Creep in our ears — soft stillness and the night

Becomes the touches of sweet harmony

Ib

 

And this our life exempt from public haunts

Finds tongues in trees — books in the running brooks

Sermons in stones — and good in every thing

As You Like It

 

Tho’ in thy youth thou wert as true a lover

As ever sighed upon a midnight pillow

Ib

 

If he compact of jars turn musical

We soon shall hear of discord in the spheres

Ib

 

What fool is this

O worthy fool one that hath been a courtier

Ib

 

Wast ever in court shepherd? No truly:

Then thou art d——d— Nay I hope — truly

thou art d——d.

Ib

 

The heathen philosopher when he had a

desire to eat a grape would open his

lips when he put it into his mouth — meaning

thereby that grapes were made top eat and

lips to open.

Ib

 

And hath been tutored in the rudiments

Of many desperate studies.

Ib

 

What shall Cordelia do? Love and be silent.

King Lear

 

Let me if not by birth have lands by wit

Ib

 

Some time I shall sleep out — the rest I’ll whistle

Ib

 

Mishapen [[Mishapen]] chaos of well-seeming forms!

Romeo and Juliet

 

O teach me how I should forget to think.

Ib

 

Turning his face to the dew-dropping South.

Ib

 

O she doth teach the torches to burn bright

Ib

 

Your worship in that sense may call him man

Ib

 

Heaven and yourself

Had part in the fair maid — now Heaven hath all.

Ib

 

I saw her laid low in her kindred’s vault

Ib

 

O here

Will I set up my everlasting rest.

Ib

 


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Notes:

This one-page document is reprinted here, with permission, from the collection of the Poe Foundation in Richmond, Virginia.

The page has been folded in half horizontally, then in half vertically, then in half vertically again, so the page is divided by folds into eight rectangular segments of equal size. Poe may have carried this in a pocket. It is possible that he may have used it as part of one of his lectures, along with his excerpts from Milton. On the back of the page, in the panel that forms the upper right quadrant is considerably more age toned than the rest of the page, indicating that it was probably stored folded in such a way that this portion was in contact with other materials or exposed more directly to the elements. Overall, the manuscript is much yellower than the equivalent page of excerpts from Milton.

The spelling of Shakespeare’s name was not yet standardized in Poe’s day, hence Poe’s use of “Shakspeare,” without the “e” following the “k.”

Mabbott comments that these notes are probably from about 1829 (Poems, 1969, p. xxvi, note 6) though without explanation.  These 73 extracts appear to have been first printed by Burton Pollin in “Shakespeare in the Works of Edgar Allan Poe,” Studies in the American Renaissance 1985, Charlottesville: The University Press of Virginia, 1985, pp. 157-186. Specifically, the excerpts are reprinted on pp. 182-186. Pollin retains the original order except for entry 16, which he moves so that all of the excerpts from The Tempest are together.

In 1866, Lambert A. Wilmer recalled that “On Literary subjects Poe held some singularly heterodox opinions. As for Milton, Shakspeare, and the whole array of illustrious British poets, he professed to hold them in great contempt” (L. A. Wilmer, “Recollections of Edgar A. Poe,” Baltimore Daily Commercial, May 23, 1866, vol. I, no. 200., p. 1, col. 5. Reprinted in Mabbott, 1941, p. 31.). Mabbott comments, “Poe may have inveighed against the faults of Shakespeare and Milton, but many references in his works show he admired them for all that” (Mabbott, “notes to ‘Wilmer’s Recollections of Edgar A. Poe,” Merlin, Together with Recollections of Edgar A. Poe, New York: Scholar’s Facsimiles & Reprints, 1941, p. 28).

Sources for the quotations:

For each excerpt, the name of the character speaking and the first line of that section of dialogue is given.

Front page, column 1 (various plays):

1 - “The very rats . . .”   The Tempest, act I, scene ii  (Prospero: “Well demanded, wench; My tale . . .”)

2 - “Nothing of him that doth . . .”    The Tempest, act I, scene ii  (Ariel, singing: “Full fathom five thy father lies . . .”)

3 - “And but he’s something stained . . .”    The Tempest, act I, scene ii  (Prospero: “No, wench; it eats and sleeps . . .”)

4 - “Most sure the Goddess . . .”     The Tempest, act I, scene ii  (Ferdinand: “Most sure the goddess on whom . . .”)

5 - “Look! he’s winding up the watch . . .”     The Tempest, act II, scene i   (Sebastian: “Look, he’s winding up the watch . . .”)

6 - “But these sweet thoughts do even . . .”     The Tempest, act III, scene i   (Ferdinand: “There be some sports are painful . . .”)

7 - “I do beseech you . . .”     The Tempest, act III, scene i   (Ferdinand: “No, noble mistress; ‘tis fresh morning . . .”)

8 - “Every third tho’t shall be . . .”     The Tempest, act V, scene i   (Prospero: “Sir, I invite your highness and . . .”)

9 - “Yet writers say as in the sweetest . . .”   Two Gentlemen of Verona, act I, scene ii  (Proteus: “Yet writers say, As in the sweetest . . .”)

10 - “Muse not that I thus suddenly . . .” Two Gentlemen of Verona, act I, scene iii  (Antonio: “My will is something sorted with his wish . . .”)

11 - “And when that hour oerslips . . .”   Two Gentlemen of Verona, act II, scene ii   (Proteus: “Here is my hand for my true constancy . . .”)

12 - “For Orpheus’ lute was strung . . .”   Two Gentlemen of Verona, act III, scene ii  (Proteus: “Say that upon the altar of her beauty . . .”)

13 - “Are you content ot be our general . . .”   Two Gentlemen of Verona, act IV, scene i  (Second Outlaw: “Indeed, because you are a banish’d . . .”)

14 - “What say you to young master Fenton . . .” The Merry Wives of Windsor, act III, scene ii  (Host, of the inn: “What say you to young master . . .:)

15 - “Besides these other bars he lays . . .” The Merry Wives of Windsor, act III, scene iv  (Fenton: “Why, thou must be thyself . . .”)

16 - “Hence bashful cunning . . .”    The Tempest, act III, scene i   (Miranda: “At mine unworthiness, that dare not offer . . .”)

Front page, column 2 (Twelfth Night):

17 - “For I can sing . . .”   Twelfth Night, act I, scene ii  (Viola: “There is a fair behaviour in thee, captain . . .”)

18 - “He plays on the viol de gambo . . .”   Twelfth Night, act I, scene iii  (Sir Toby: “Fye, that you’ll say so! he plays . . .”)

19 - “It shall become thee well . . .”   Twelfth Night, act I, scene iv  (Duke Orsino: “O, then unfold the passion of my love . . .”)

20 - “And those that are fools . . .”   Twelfth Night, act I, scene v  (Clown: “Well, God give them wisdom that have . . .”)

21 - “Two faults madonna . . .”   Twelfth Night, act I, scene v  (Clown: “Two faults madonna . . .”)

22 - “Misprision in the highest . . .”   Twelfth Night, act I, scene v  (Clown: “Misprision in the highest . . .”)

23 - “I think his soul is in . . .”   Twelfth Night, act I, scene v  (Clown: “I think his soul . . .” and Olivia: “I know his soul . . .”)

24 - “Lady you are the cruellest . . .”   Twelfth Night, act I, scene v  (Viola: “ ‘Tis beauty truly blent, whose red . . .”)

25 - “I see you what you are . . .”   Twelfth Night, act I, scene v  (Viola: “I see you what you are . . .”)

26 - “I am a gentleman — I’ll be sworn . . .”   Twelfth Night, act I, scene v  (Olivia: “What is your parentage? . . .”)

27 - “Antonio: Let me but know . . .” Twelfth Night, act II, scene i  (Antonio: “Let me yet know of you . . .”)

28 - “Poor Lady! she were better . . .”   Twelfth Night, act II, scene ii  (Viola: “I left no ring with her . . .”)

29 - “Do not our lives consist of . . .”   Twelfth Night, act II, scene iii  (Sir Toby, “A false conclusion; I hate it as . . .”)

30 - “O what a deal of scorn looks . . .”   Twelfth Night, act III, scene i  (Olivia: “O what a deal of scorn looks . . .”)

31 - “I pray you let us satisfy our eyes . . .”   Twelfth Night, act III, scene iii  (Sebastian: “I am not weary, and ‘tis long to night . . .”)

32 - “There comes the countess . . .”   Twelfth Night, act V, scene i  (Duke Orsino: “Here comes the countess; now . . .”)

33 - “More than I love these eyes . . .”   Twelfth Night, act V, scene i  (Viola: “After him I love more than I love these eyes . . .”)

34 - “A contract of eternal bond . . .”   Twelfth Night, act V, scene i  (Priest: “A contract of eternal bond of love . . .”)

Back page, column 1 (various plays):

35 - “Since when my watch hath  told . . .”   Twelfth Night, act V, scene i  (Priest: “A contract of eternal bond of love . . .”)

36 - “We took him for a coward . . .”   Twelfth Night, act V, scene i  (Sir Andrew Ague-Cheek: “The count’s gentleman, one Cesario . . .”)

37 - “Pardon me sweet one even for . . .”   Twelfth Night, act V, scene i  (Sebastian: “I am sorry, madame, I have hurt . . .”)

38 - “One face — one voice — one habit . . .”   Twelfth Night, act V, scene i  (Duke Orsino: “One face, one voice, one habit . . .”)

39 - “What countryman? what name . . .”   Twelfth Night, act V, scene i  (Sebastian: “Do I stand there? I never had a brother . . .”)

40 - “But we do learn . . .”   Measure for Measure, act I, scene iv  (Some editions give this as scene v. It takes place in “A Nunnery”) (Lucio:This is the point. The duke is . . .”)

41 - “Falling in the flames . . .”   Measure for Measure, act II, scene iii  (Provost: “I would do more than that, if more [enter Juliet] Look, here comes . . .” Most authoritative texts for this play follow early editions, reading: “Falling in the flawes of her owne youth. . .”)

42 - “Lets write good angel on . . .”   Measure for Measure, act II, scene iv  (Angelo: “When I would pray and think, I think and pray . . .”)

43 - “An’ he had been a dog that . . .”   Much Ado about Nothing, act II, scene iii  (Benedict: “An he had been a dog that . . .”)

44 - “O what men may do! what men . . .”   Much Ado about Nothing, act IV, scene i  (Claudio: “O, what men dare do! what men may do . . .”)

45 - “The idea of her life shall sweetly. . .”   Much Ado about Nothing, act IV, scene i  (Friar: “Marry, this well carried shall on her behalf . . .”)

46 - “Done to death by slanderer’s tongues . . .”   Much Ado about Nothing, act V, scene iii  (Claudio, reading from a scroll: “Done to death by slanderous tongues . . .”) (Most printed texts of the play give “slanderous” rather than “slanderer’s”)

47 - “And in the spiced Indian air by night . . .”   Midsummer Night’s Dream, act II, scene i  (Titania: “Set your heart at rest . . .”)

48 - “How came her eyes so bright? . . .”   Midsummer Night’s Dream, act II, scene ii  (Helena: “O, I am out of breath in this fond chase! . . .”)

49 - “And those things do best please me . . .”   Midsummer Night’s Dream, act III, scene ii  (Puck: “Then will two at once woo one . . .”)

50 - “The thrice 3 muses mourning for . . .”   Midsummer Night’s Dream, act V, scene i  (Theseus, reading: “The battle with the Centaurs, to be sung . . .”)

51 - “And one in all the world’s . . .”   Love’s Labor’s Lost, act I, scene i  (King Ferdinand: “Ay, that there is. Our court, you know, is haunted . . . “) (Most printed texts of the play give “A man in all the world’s . . .” rather than “And one in all the world’s . . .”)

52 - “But I protest I love to hear . . .”   Love’s Labor’s Lost, act I, scene i  (King Ferdinand: “Ay, that there is. Our court, you know, is haunted . . . “)

53 - “Devise wit — write pen — for . . .”   Love’s Labor’s Lost, act I, scene ii  (Don Adriano de Armado: “I do affect the very ground, which is base, where . . . ”)

54 - “What judgment shall I dread . . .”   The Merchant of Venice, act IV, scene i  (Shylock: “What judgment shall I dread, doing no wrong? . . .”)

Back page, column 2 (various plays):

55 - “Here will we sit and let the sounds . . .”   The Merchant of Venice, act V, scene i  (Lorenzo: “Sweet soul, let’s in, and there expect their coming . . .”)

56 - “And this our life exempt from public . . .”   As You Like It, act II, scene i  (Duke Senior: “Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile . . .”)

57 - “Tho’ in thy youth thou wert as true . . .”   As You Like It, act II, scene iv  (Silvius: “No, Corin, being old, thou canst not guess . . .”)

58 - “If he compact of jars turn . . .” As You Like It, act II, scene vii  (Duke Senior: “If he, compact of jars, grow musical . . .”)

59 - “What fool is this . . .” As You Like It, act II, scene vii  (Duke Senior: “What fool is this?” and Jacques: “O worthy fool . . .”)

60 - “Wast ever in court shepherd . . .” As You Like It, act III, scene ii  (Touchstone: “Wast ever in court shepherd?” and Corin: “No, truly,” etc.)

61 - “The heathen philosopher when he had . . .” As You Like It, act V, scene i  (Touchstone: “Why, thou sayest well. I do now remember a saying . . .”)

62 - “And hath been tutored in the rudiements . . .” As You Like It, act V, scene iv  (Orlando: “My lord, the first time that I ever saw him . . .”)

63 - “What shall Cordelia do? . . .”   King Lear, act I, scene i  (Cordelia, aside: “What shall Cordelia do?”)

64 - “Let me if not by birth have lands . . .” King Lear, act I, scene ii  (Edmund: “I do serve you in this business . . .”)

65 - “Some time I shall sleep out . . .” King Lear, act II, scene ii  (Kent: “Pray, do not, sir: I have watched and travell’d hard . . .”)

66 - “Misshapen chaos of well-seeming . . .” Romeo and Juliet, act I, scene i  (Romeo: “Alas, that love, whose view is muffled still . . .”)

67 - “O teach me how I should forget . . .” Romeo and Juliet, act I, scene i  (Romeo: “O, teach me how I should forget to think.”)

68 - “Turning his face to the dew-dropping . . .” Romeo and Juliet, act I, scene iv  (Mercutio: “True, I talk of dreams . . .”)

69 - “O she doth teach the torches . . .” Romeo and Juliet, act I, scene v  (Romeo: “O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright . . .”)

70 - “Your worship in that sense may call . . .” Romeo and Juliet, act III, scene i  (Mercutio: “But I’ll be hanged, sir, if he wear your livery . . .”)

71 - “Heaven and yourself . . .” Romeo and Juliet, act IV, scene v  (Friar Laurence: “Peace, ho, for shame! confusion’s cure lives not . . .”)

72 - “I saw her laid low in her . . .” Romeo and Juliet, act V, scene i  (Balthasar: “Then she is well, and nothing can be ill . . .”)

73 - “O here will I set up . . .” Romeo and Juliet, act V, scene iii  (Romeo: “In faith, I will. Let me peruse this face . . .”)

 

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[S:0 - MS, 1829] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Misc - Excerpts from Shakespeare (MS notes)