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JAMES SHIRLEY
English dramatist
(1596 - 1666)

All buildings are but monuments of death,
  All clothes but winding-sheets for our last knell,
    All dainty fattings for the worms beneath,
      All curious music but our passing bell:
        Thus death is nobly waited on, for why?
          All that we have is but death's livery.
      - [Death]

Death lays his icy hand on kings.
      - [Death]

Divinity bath oftentimes descended
  Upon our slumbers, and the blessed troupes
    Have, in the calm and quiet of the soule,
      Conversed with us.
      - [Dreams]

He is an adorer of chaste truth,
  And speaks religiously of ev'ry man:
    He will not trust obscure traditions,
      Or faith implicit, but concludes of things
        Within his own clear knowledge: what he says
          You may believe, and pawn your soul upon 't.
      - [Truth]

Heav'n, that knows
  The weakness of our natures, will forgive,
    Nay, must applaud love's debt, when decent paid:
      Nor can the bravest mortal blame the tear
        Which glitters on the bier of fallen worth.
      - [Tears]

Heaven, the perfection of all that can
  Be said, of thought, riches, delight or harmony,
    Health, beauty; and all those not subject to
      The waste of time, but in their height eternal.
      - [Heaven]

Her eye did seem to labour with a tear,
  Which suddenly took birth, but overweigh'd
    With its own weight, swelling, dropp'd upon her bosom,
      Which, by reflection of her light, appear'd
        As nature meant her sorrow for an ornament.
      - [Tears]

How wise are we in thought! how weak in practice! our very virtue, like our will, is nothing.
      - [Conceit]

Knaves will thrive when honest plainness knows not how to live.
      - [Knavery]

Sceptre and crown must tumble down
  And in the dust be equal made
    With the poor crooked scythe and spade.
      - [Proverbs]

Take heed what you say, sir.
  An hundred honest men! why, if there were
    So many 'i th' city, 'twere enough to forfeit
      Their charter.
      - [Cities]

The honor is overpaid when he that did the act is commentator.
      - [Boasting]

The sin of excessive length.
      - [Tediousness]

This fellow must have a rare understanding;
  For nature recompenseth the defects
    Of one part with redundance in another;
      Blind men have excellent memories, and the tongue
        Thus indisposed, there's treasure in the intellect.
      - [Blindness]

When our souls shall leave this dwelling, the glory of one fair and virtuous action is above all the 'scutcheons on our tomb, or silken banners over us.
      - [Action]

Only the actions of the just
  Smell sweet and blossom in their dust.
      - Contention of Ajax and Ulysses (sc. 3)
        [Action]

The glories of our blood and state
  Are shadows, not substantial things;
    There is no armour against fate,
      Death lays his icy hand on kings.
        Scepter and crown
          Must tumble down,
            And, in the dust, be equal made
              With the poor crooked scythe and spade.
      - Contention of Ajax and Ulysses (sc. 3)
        [Death]

Death calls ye to the crowd of common men.
      - Cupid and Death [Death]

Hark, how chimes the passing bell!
  There's no music to a knell;
    All the other sounds we hear,
      Flatter, and but cheat our ear.
        This doth put us still in mind
          That our flesh must be resigned,
            And, a general silence made,
              The world be muffled in a shade.
                [Orpheus' lute, as poets tell,
                  Was but moral of this bell,
                    And the captive soul was she,
                      Which they called Eurydice,
                        Rescued by our holy groan,
                          A loud echo to this tone.]
      - The Passing Bell [Bells]

He that on his pillow lies,
  Fear-embalmed before he dies
    Carries, like a sheep, his life,
      To meet the sacrificer's knife,
        And for eternity is prest,
          Sad bell-wether to the rest.
      - The Passing Bell [Death]


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