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24 A FEW MEMORIES
understood nothing of the subtle thought and beauty of the tragedy, the mere story, characters, and, above all, that wonderful though nameless atmosphere that pervades all of Shakespeare's dramatic works, delighted and thrilled me. For days I could think of nothing but the pale face and inky cloak of the melancholy prince. The old red volume had suddenly become like a casket filled with jewels, whose flames and flashes, I thought, might glorify a life. I often stopped to look at it with longing eyes, and one day could not resist climbing up to take it from its shelf. From that time most of my play hours were spent poring over it.
One night, not long after, the family were surprised to see me enter the parlor enveloped in one of Dr. Griffin's army cloaks. I was scowling tragically, and at once began the speech,
" Angels and ministers of grace, defend us! Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damned/'
my version being,
" Angels and minstrels of grace, defend us ! Be thou a spirit of health, or goblirfs dame"
The latter innovation was made to evade having on my conscience so sinful a " swear " as damned.