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AGAM. The nature of the sickness found, Ulysses, What is the remedy? Ulyss. The great Achilles,—whom opinion
crowns The sinew and the forehand of our host,Having his ear full of his airy fame, Grows dainty of his worth, and in his tent Lies mocking our designs: With him, Patroclus, Upon a lazy bed the livelong day, Breaks scurril jests; And with ridiculous and aukward action (Which, slanderer, he imitation calls,) He pageants us. Sometime, great Agamemnon, Thy topless deputation he puts on; And, like a strutting player,--whose conceit Lies in his hamstring, and doth think it rich To hear the wooden dialogue and sound 'Twist his stretch'd footing and the scaffoldage,' Such to-be-pitied and o'er-wrested seeming?
his airy fame,] Verbal elogium; what our author, in Macbeth, has called mouth honour. See p. 264, note.
MALONE. Thy topless deputation--] Topless is that which has nothing topping or overtopping it; supreme; sovereign.
JOHNSON, So, in Doctor Faustus, 1604:
“ Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships,
“ And burnt the topless towers of Ilium ?” Again, in The Blind Beggar of Alexandria, 1598:
“ And topless honours be bestow'd on thee." STEEVENS. 1 'Twixt his stretch'd footing and the scaffoldage,] The galleries of the theatre, in the time of our author, were sometimes termed the scaffolds. See The Account of the ancient Theatres, Vol. III. MALONE.
? —o'er-wrested seeming-] i. e. wrested beyond the truth ; overcharged. Both the old copies, as well as all the modern editions, have-o'er-rested, which affords no meaning.
MALONE. VOL. XV.
He acts thy greatness in: and when he speaks, 'Tis like a chime a mending;: with terms un
squar'd, Which, from the tongue of roaring Typhon dropp’d, Would seem hyperboles. At this fusty stuff, The large Achilles, on his press'd bed lolling, From his deep chest laughs out a loud applause; Cries-Excellent !—'tis Agamemnon just. Now play me Nestor ;-hem, and stroke thy beard, As he, being 'drest to some oration. That's done ;-as near as the extremest ends Of parallels; 5 as like as Vulcan and his wife: Yet good Achilles still cries, Excellent ! 'Tis Nestor right! Now play him me, Patroclus, Arming to answer in a night alarm. And then, forsooth, the faint defects of age Must be the scene of mirth; to cough, and spit, And with a palsy-fumblingo on his gorget,
Over-wrested is—wound up too high. A wrest was an instrument for tuning a harp, by drawing up the strings. See Mr. Douce's note on Act III. sc. iii. STEEVENS.
La chime a mending;] To this comparison the praise of originality must be allowed. He who, like myself, has been in the
tower of a church while the chimes were repairing, will never wish a second time to be present at so dissonantly noisy an operation. STEVENS.
unsquar'd,] i. e. unadapted to their subject, as stones are unfitted to the purposes of architecture, while they are.yet unsquar'd. Steevens.
as near as the extremest ends Of parallels ;] The parallels to which the allusion seems to be made, are the parallels on a map.
As like as east to west.
JOHNSON. a palsy-fumbling-] Old copies gives this as two distinct words. But it should be written-palsy-fumbling, i. e. paralytick fumbling. TYRWHITT.
Fumbling is often applied by our old English writers to the speech. So, in King John, 1591 :
Shake in and out the rivet:
-and at this sport, Sir Valour dies; cries, 0!_enough, Patroclus ;Or give me ribs of steel! I shall split all In pleasure of my spleen.' And in this fashion, All our abilities, gifts, natures, shapes, Severals and generals of grace exact, Achievements, plots,' orders, preventions, Excitements to the field, or speech for truce, Success, or loss, what is, or is not, serves As stuff for these two to make paradoxes.S
NEST. And in the imitation of these twain (Whom, as Ulysses says, opinion crowns With an imperial voice,) many are infect. Ajax is grown self-will'd; and bears his head In such a rein, in full as proud a place As broad Achilles : keeps his tent like him; Makes factious feasts ; rails on our state of war, Bold as an oracle: and sets Thersites
he fumbleth in the mouth; “ His speech doth fail.” Again, in North’s translation of Plutarch: "he heard his wife Calphurnia being fast asleepe, weepe and sigh, and put forth many fumbling lamentable speaches."
Shakspeare, I believe, wrote---in his gorget. MALONE.
On seems to be used for—at. So, p. 285: “ Pointing on him.” i. e. at him. STEEVENS. ? All our abilities, gifts, natures, shapes, Severals and generals of grace exact
Achievements, plots, &c.] All our good grace exact, means our excellence irreprehensible. JOHNSON.
to make paradoxes. ] Paradoxes may have a meaning, but it is not clear and distinct. I wish the copies had given :
to make parodies. JOHNSON. -bears his head In such a rein,) That is, holds up his head as haughtily. We still say of a girl, she bridles. Johnson.
(A slave, whose gall coins slanders like a mint,')
Ulyss. They tax our policy, and call it cow.
Count wisdom as no member of the
war ; Forestall prescíence, and esteem no act But that of hand: the still and mental parts,That do contrive how many hands shall strike, When fitness calls them on; and know, by measure Of their observant toil, the enemies' weight, Why, this hath not a finger’s dignity: They call this—bed-work, mappery, closet-war: So that the ram, that batters down the wall, For the great swing and rudeness of his poize, They place before his hand that made the engine; Or those, that with the fineness of their souls By reason guide his execution.
Nest. Let this be granted, and Achilles' horse Makes many Thetis' sons. [Trumpet sounds.
whose gall coins slanders like a mint,] i. e. as fast as a mint coins
money. See Vol. XI. p. 240, n. 7. MALONE. ? How rank soever rounded in with danger.] A rank weed is a high weed. The modern editions silently read:
How hard soever- JOHNSON.
and know, by measure Of their observant toil, the enemies' weight,] I think it were better to read :
and know the measure,
Johnson. -by measurem] That is, “ by means of their observant toil.” M. MASON,
What trumpet ? look, Menelaus.
Men. From Troy.
Even this. Æne. May one, that is a herald, and a prince, Do a fair message to his kingly ears ?5
AGAM. With surety stronger than Achilles'armo 'Fore all the Greekish heads, which with one yoice Çall Agamemnon head and general.
ÆNE. Fair leave, and large security. How may A stranger to those most imperial looks?
* What trumpet ? look, Menelaus.] Surely, the name of Menelaus only serves to destroy the metre, and should therefore, be omitted. STEEVENS. -kingly ears ?] The quarto:
-kingly eyes. Johnson.
Achilles' arm-] So the copies. Perhaps the author wrote: Alcides' arm.
JOHNSON. ? A stranger to those most imperial looks-] And yet this was the seventh year of the war.'* Shakspeare, who so wonderfully preserves character, usually confounds the customs of all nations, and probably supposed that the ancients (like the heroes of chivalry) fought with beavers to their helmets. So, in the fourth Act of this play, Nestor says to Hector :
“ But this thy countenance, still lock'd in steel,
56 I never saw till now.” Shakspeare might have adopted this error from the wooden cuts to ancient books, or from the illuminators of manuscripts, who never seem to have entertained the least idea of habits, manners, or customs more ancient than their