Lecture by Alan Chadwick in New Market, Virginia, 1979
Lecture 1, Part 1.5 (Excerpt: Friar Lawrence's Soliloquy from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.
An Introduction to Alan Chadwick's Lectures and a Glossary of Terms
Contents of this Segment:
Here Shakespeare expresses reverence for the powerful and mysterious forces that are carried by plants, both the healing and the poisonous. He suggests that the same polarity also exists within the souls of human beings. Alan frequently quoted this passage from memory. He used it often as a subject for study in the elocution classes that he gave at Covelo and Virginia. Almost 40 years later, one apprentice could still recite this piece with remarkably few errors considering the lapse of time.
The text from Shakespeare (Act ii Scene iii of Romeo and Juliet) appears below to aid the reader and to compensate for the deficiencies in the audio recording of Alan's rendition.
(Enter Friar Lawrence:)
"The grey-eyed morn smiles on the frowning night,
Chequering the eastern clouds with streaks of light,
And flecked darkness like a drunkard reels
From forth day's path and Titan's fiery wheels:
Now, ere the sun advance his burning eye,
The day to cheer and night's dank dew to dry,
I must up-fill this osier cage of ours
With baleful weeds and precious-juiced flowers.
The earth that's nature's mother is her tomb;
What is her burying grave that is her womb,
And from her womb children of divers kind
We sucking on her natural bosom find,
Many for many virtues excellent,
None but for some and yet all different.
O, mickle is the powerful grace that lies
In herbs, plants, stones, and their true qualities:
For nought so vile that on the earth doth live
But to the earth some special good doth give,
Nor aught so good but strain'd from that fair use
Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse:
Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied;
And vice sometimes by action dignified.
Within the infant rind of this small flower
Poison hath residence and medicine power:
For this, being smelt, with that part cheers each part;
Being tasted, slays all senses with the heart.
Two such opposed kings encamp them still
In man as well as herbs, grace and rude will;
And where the worser is predominant,
Full soon the canker death eats up that plant."