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Text on one page: Few Medium Many
TALES FROM SHAKESPEARE

By CHARLES & MARY LAMB




ILLUSTRATED BY ARTHUR RACKHAM




_WEATHERVANE BOOKS NEW YORK_

Copyright MCMLXXV by Crown Publishers, Inc.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 75-18860

All rights reserved.

This edition is published by Weathervane Books, a division of Barre
Publishing Company, Inc.

Manufactured in the United States of America




PREFACE


The following Tales are meant to be submitted to the young reader as an
introduction to the study of Shakespeare, for which purpose his words
are used whenever it seemed possible to bring them in; and in whatever
has been added to give them the regular form of a connected story,
diligent care has been taken to select such words as might least
interrupt the effect of the beautiful English tongue in which he wrote:
therefore, words introduced into our language since his time have been
as far as possible avoided.

In those tales which have been taken from the Tragedies, the young
readers will perceive, when they come to see the source from which these
stories are derived, that Shakespeare's own words, with little
alteration, recur very frequently in the narrative as well as in the
dialogue; but in those made from the Comedies the writers found
themselves scarcely ever able to turn his words into the narrative form:
therefore it is feared that, in them, dialogue has been made use of too
frequently for young people not accustomed to the dramatic form of
writing. But this fault, if it be a fault, has been caused by an earnest
wish to give as much of Shakespeare's own words as possible: and if the
"_He said_," and "_She said_," the question and the reply, should
sometimes seem tedious to their young ears, they must pardon it, because
it was the only way in which could be given to them a few hints and
little foretastes of the great pleasure which awaits them in their elder
years, when they come to the rich treasures from which these small and
valueless coins are extracted; pretending to no other merit than as
faint and imperfect stamps of Shakespeare's matchless image. Faint and
imperfect images they must be called, because the beauty of his language
is too frequently destroyed by the necessity of changing many of his
excellent words into words far less expressive of his true sense, to
make it read something like prose; and even in some few places, where
his blank verse is given unaltered, as hoping from its simple plainness
to cheat the young readers into the belief that they are reading prose,
yet still his language being transplanted from its own natural soil and
wild poetic garden, it must want much of its native beauty.

It has been wished to make these Tales easy reading for very young
children. To the utmost of their ability the writers have constantly
kept this in mind; but the subjects of most of them made this a very
difficult task. It was no easy matter to give the histories of men and
women in terms familiar to the apprehension of a very young mind. For
young ladies too, it has been the intention chiefly to write; because
boys being generally permitted the use of their fathers' libraries at a
much earlier age than girls are, they frequently have the best scenes of
Shakespeare by heart, before their sisters are permitted to look into
this manly book; and, therefore, instead of recommending these Tales to
the perusal of young gentlemen who can read them so much better in the
originals, their kind assistance is rather requested in explaining to
their sisters such parts as are hardest for them to understand: and when
they have helped them to get over the difficulties, then perhaps they
will read to them (carefully selecting what is proper for a young
sister's ear) some passage which has pleased them in one of these
stories, in the very words of the scene from which it is taken; and it
is hoped they will find that the beautiful extracts, the select
passages, they may choose to give their sisters in this way will be much
better relished and understood from their having some notion of the
general story from one of these imperfect abridgments;--which if they
be fortunately so done as to prove delightful to any of the young
readers, it is hoped that no worse effect will result than to make them
wish themselves a little older, that they may be allowed to read the
Plays at full length (such a wish will be neither peevish nor
irrational). When time and leave of judicious friends shall put them
into their hands, they will discover in such of them as are here
abridged (not to mention almost as many more, which are left untouched)
many surprising events and turns of fortune, which for their infinite
variety could not be contained in this little book, besides a world of
sprightly and cheerful characters, both men and women, the humour of
which it was feared would be lost if it were attempted to reduce the
length of them.

What these Tales shall have been to the _young_ readers, that and much
more it is the writers' wish that the true Plays of Shakespeare may
prove to them in older years--enrichers of the fancy, strengtheners of
virtue, a withdrawing from all selfish and mercenary thoughts, a lesson
of all sweet and honourable thoughts and actions, to teach courtesy,
benignity, generosity, humanity: for of examples, teaching these
virtues, his pages are full.




CONTENTS


PAGE

THE TEMPEST 1

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM 14

THE WINTER'S TALE 27

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING 39

AS YOU LIKE IT 53

THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA 71

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 85

CYMBELINE 102

KING LEAR 117

MACBETH 136

ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL 148

THE TAMING OF THE SHREW 162

THE COMEDY OF ERRORS 174

MEASURE FOR MEASURE 190

TWELFTH NIGHT; OR, WHAT YOU WILL 206

TIMON OF ATHENS 221

ROMEO AND JULIET 236

HAMLET, PRINCE OF DENMARK 255

OTHELLO 272

PERICLES, PRINCE OF TYRE 287




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


PERDITA

WHEN CALIBAN WAS LAZY AND NEGLECTED HIS WORK,
ARIEL WOULD COME SLILY AND PINCH HIM

WHERE IS PEASE-BLOSSOM?

PAULINA DREW BACK THE CURTAIN WHICH CONCEALED
THIS FAMOUS STATUE

GANYMEDE ASSUMED THE FORWARD MANNERS OFTEN
SEEN IN YOUTHS WHEN THEY ARE BETWEEN BOYS
AND MEN

IMOGEN'S TWO BROTHERS THEN CARRIED HER TO A
SHADY COVERT

CORDELIA

THEY WERE STOPPED BY THE STRANGE APPEARANCE
OF THREE FIGURES

PETRUCHIO, PRETENDING TO FIND FAULT WITH EVERY
DISH, THREW THE MEAT ABOUT THE FLOOR

SHE BEGAN TO THINK OF CONFESSING THAT SHE WAS
A WOMAN

AT THE CELL OF FRIAR LAWRENCE

TO THIS BROOK OPHELIA CAME




[Illustration]

THE TEMPEST


There was a certain island in the sea, the only inhabitants of which
were an old man, whose name was Prospero, and his daughter Miranda, a
very beautiful young lady. She came to this island so young, that she
had no memory of having seen any other human face than her father's.

They lived in a cave or cell, made out of a rock; it was divided into
several apartments, one of which Prospero called his study; there he
kept his books, which chiefly treated of magic, a study at that time
much affected by all learned men: and the knowledge of this art he found
very useful to him; for being thrown by a strange chance upon this
island, which had been enchanted by a witch called Sycorax, who died
there a short time before his arrival, Prospero, by virtue of his art,
released many good spirits that Sycorax had imprisoned in the bodies of
large trees, because they had refused to execute her wicked commands.
These gentle spirits were ever after obedient to the will of Prospero.
Of these Ariel was the chief.

[Illustration: WHEN CALIBAN WAS LAZY AND NEGLECTED HIS WORK, ARIEL WOULD
COME SLILY AND PINCH HIM]

The lively little sprite Ariel had nothing mischievous in his nature,
except that he took rather too much pleasure in tormenting an ugly
monster called Caliban, for he owed him a grudge because he was the son
of his old enemy Sycorax. This Caliban, Prospero found in the woods, a
strange misshapen thing, far less human in form than an ape: he took him
home to his cell, and taught him to speak; and Prospero would have been
very kind to him, but the bad nature which Caliban inherited from his
mother Sycorax, would not let him learn anything good or useful:
therefore he was employed like a slave, to fetch wood, and do the most
laborious offices; and Ariel had the charge of compelling him to these
services.

When Caliban was lazy and neglected his work, Ariel (who was invisible
to all eyes but Prospero's) would come slily and pinch him, and
sometimes tumble him down in the mire; and then Ariel, in the likeness
of an ape, would make mouths at him. Then swiftly changing his shape, in
the likeness of a hedgehog, he would lie tumbling in Caliban's way, who
feared the hedgehog's sharp quills would prick his bare feet. With a
variety of such-like vexatious tricks Ariel would often torment him,
whenever Caliban neglected the work which Prospero commanded him to do.

Having these powerful spirits obedient to his will, Prospero could by
their means command the winds, and the waves of the sea.



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