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Also in Shakspere's 29th Sonnet:--
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate." And again in “VENUS AND ADONIS :"-
"Lo, here the gentle lark, weary of rest,
From his moist cabinet mounts up on high,
"Your mother too :
She's my good lady."--Act II., Scene 3. This is said ironically. “My good lady” is equivalent to "my good friend." So in “Henry IV.," Part 2, Falstaff says to Prince John:-"And when you come to court, stand my good lord, pray, in your good report."
The press of boats, or pride."—Act II., Scene 4. Johnson observes of this scene, that "Iachimo's language is such as a skilful villain would naturally use,-a mixture of airy triumph and serious deposition. His gaiety shews his seriousness to be without anxiety; and his seriousness proves his gaiety to be without art."
" Mulmulius made our laws, Who was the first of Britain which did put His brows within a golden crown, and called
Himself a king."— Act III., Scene 1. The title of the first chapter of Holinshed's third book of the “HISTORY OF ENGLAND," is:"Of Mulmutius, the first King of Britain who was crowned with a golden crown, his laws, his foundations, &c.
“Mulmutius, the son of Cloten, got the upper hand of the other dukes or rulers; and, after his father's decease, began his reign over the whole monarchy of Britain in the year of the world 3529. He made many good laws, which were long after used, called Mulmutius' laws, turned out of the British speech into Latin by Gildas Priscus, and long time after translated out of Latin into English by Alfred, King of England, and mingled in his statutes. After he had established his land, he ordained him, by the advice of his lords, a crown of gold, and caused himself with great solemnity to be crowned and because he was the first that bare a crown here in Britain, after the opinion of some writers, he is named the first king of Britain, and all the other before rehearsed are named rulers, dukes, or governors. Among other of his ordinances, he appointed weights and measures, with the which men should buy and sell : and further, he caused sore and strait orders for the punishment of theft."
--" Thou art welcome, Caius. Thy Cæsar knighted me: my youth I spent
Much under him."-Act III., Scene 1. Holinshed throws light on this passage also:- Kymbeline (as some write) was brought up at Rome, and there was made knight by Augustus Cæsar, under whom he served in the wars, and was in such favour with him that he was at liberty to pay his tribute or not. Yet we find in the Roman writers, that after Julius Cæsar's death, when Augustus had taken upon him the rule of the empire, the Britons refused to pay that tribute.----But whether the controversy which appeared to fall forth between the Britons and Augustus was occasioned by Kymbeline, I have not a vouch.--Kymbeline reigned thirty-five years, leaving behind him two sons, Guiderius and Arviragus."
Depending on their brands."-Act II., Scene 4. The andirons of our ancestors were sometimes costly pieces of furniture; the standards were often, as in this instance, of silver, representing some terminal figure or device; the transverse or horizontal pieces, upon which the wood was supported, were what Shakspere here calls the brands, properly brandirons. Upon these the Cupids which formed the standards “nicely depended," seeming to stand on one foot.
"Her allendants are All sworn and honourable."-Act II., Scene 4. It was anciently the custom for attendants on the nobility (as it is now for the servants of the sovereign) to take an oath of fidelity, on their entrance into office.
- "Under her breast
(Worthy the pressing)."— Act II., Scene 4. The original folio reads, "worthy her pressing." Rowe made the correction. We mention the matter merely as it affords an opportunity of saying, in justice to Rowe, that in his edition he made many other verbal emendations of unquestionable taste and correctness, which are now incorporated with the received text.
- "Good wax, thy leave. Blessed be,
The meaning is, that the bees are not blessed by the man who is sent to prison for forfeiting a bond, which is sealed with their product-wax, as they are by lovers, for whom the same substance performs the more pleasing office of sealing letters.
- "What should we speak of, When we are old as you."-Act III., Scene 3. This dread of an old age unsupplied with matter for discourse and meditation, is a sentiment natural and noble. No state can be more destitute than that of him who, when the delights of sense forsake him, has no pleasures of the mind.-Johnson.
“Is there no way for men to be, but women
Must be half-workers.”—Act II., Scene 5. This bitter sarcasm of Posthumus (which, by the way, is in reality caused by the villany of a man, not by the frailty of a woman) probably suggested the similar sentiment that Milton has put into the mouth of Adam :
- "O why did God,
- "If it be summer neres,
Smile to 't before."— Act III., Scene 4. A similar phrase occurs in the Poet's 98th Sonnet:“ Yet not the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell
Of different flowers in odour and in hue,
--"Some jay of Italy,
Act III., Scene 4. Meaning, some beauty made by art; the creature, not of nature, but of painting. “In this sense,” says Johuson, “painting may be not improperly termed her mother."
“ Poor I am stale, a garment out of fashion;
And, for I am richer than to hang by the walls,
Act III., Scene 4. Clothes were not formerly, as at present, made of slight materials; they were not kept in drawers, or given away as soon a3 lapse of time or change of fashion had impaired their value. On the contrary, they were hung up on wooden pegs, in a room appropriated to the sole purpose of receiving them; and though such cast-off things as were composed of rich substances were occasionally riprod for domestic uses, articles of inferior quality were suffered to hang by the wall till age and moths had destroyed what pride would not permit to be worn by servants or poor relations. When Queen Elizabeth died, she was found to have left above three thousand dresses behind her. Steevens states himself to have seen, at an ancient mansion in Suffolk, one of these dress repositories, which had been preserved with superstitious reverence for almost a century and a half.
... I thought he slept; and put
Gui. Why, he but sleeps.
Arv. With fairest flowers,
I'll sweeten thy sad grave.' Tears alone can speak the touching simplicity of the whole scene."
---"The ruddock would
With charitable bill."-Act IV., Scene 2. The ruddock is the redbreast. It is so called by Chaucer and Spenser. The office of covering the dead is likewise ascribed to this bird by Drayton, in his poem called “TH Owl" (1604)
“ Covering with moss the dead's unclosed eye,
The little redbreast teacheth charity."
- "Come, here's my heart:Something's afore't: soft, soft; we'll no defence."
Act III., Scene 4. In this passage, we have another of Rowe's happy verbal corrections. The original copy reads, “Something's afoot.'
---" Reverence (That angel of the world)."-Act IV., Scene 2. Reverence, or due regard to subordination, is the power that keeps peace and order in the world.-Johnson.
" Hath Britain all the sun that shines ? Day, night,
Are they not but in Britain ?"-Act III., Scene 4. It seems probable that here, as also on a similar occasion in “RICHARD II.," Shakspere had in his thoughts a passage in Lily's "EUPHUES:"-"Nature hath given to no man a country, no more than she hath house, or lands, or living. Plato would never account him banished that had the sun, air, water, and earth, that he had before: where he felt the winter's blast, and the summer's blaze; where the same sun and the same moon shined: whereby he noted that every place was a country to a wise man, and all parts a palace to a quiet mind."
"Fear no more the heat o' the sun,
Nor the furious winter's rages ;
Act IV., Scene 2. “This," says Warburton, " is the topic of consolation that nature dictates to all men on these occasions. same farewell we have over the dead body in Lucian."--In the same strain of regret and tender envy, it may be added, Macbeth speaks of his slaughtered victim Duncan : feeling, at the very instant when he should rejoice in the consummation of his wishes, the utter nothingness of perturbed earthly pleasures, when compared with the peaceful slumbers of the innocent dead.
Collins has given an imitation, rather than a version, of this beautiful dirge. It exhibits his usual exquisite taste and felicity of expression, although inferior to the original in condensation and characteristic simplicity :
--" True to thee,
To him that is most true."- Act III., Scene 5. Pisanio, notwithstanding his master's letter commanding the murder of Imogen, considers him true ; supposing, as he has already said to her, that Posthumus was abused by some villain, equally an enemy to them both.
"The bird is dead That we have made so much on."
Act IV., Scene 2. The sweet and wholesome pathos of this scene has been thus noted by Mrs. Radcliffe :-“ No master ever knew how to touch the accordant springs of sympathy by small circumstances, like our own Shakspere. In 'CYMBELINE,' for instance, how finely such circumstances are made use of to awaken, at once, solemn expectation and tenderness, and, by recalling the softened remembrance of a sorrow long past, to prepare the mind to melt at one that was approaching; mingling at the same time, by means of a mysterious occur. rence, a slight tremor of awe with our pity. Thus, when Belarius and Arviragus return to the cave where they had left the unhappy and worn-out Imogen to repose, while they are yet standing before it, and Arviragus-speaking of her with tenderest pity as 'poor sick Fidele'--goes out to inquire for her, solemn music is heard from the cave, sounded by that harp of which Guiderius says, 'Since the death of my dearest mother, it did not speak before. All solemn things should answer solemn accidents.' Immediately Arviragus enters with Fidele senseless in his arms :
“To fair Fidele's grassy tomb
Soft maids and village hinds shall bring Each opening sweet of earliest bloom,
And rifle all the breathing spring. “No wailing ghost shall dare appear
To vex with shrieks this quiet grove: But shepherd lads assemble here,
And melting virgins own their love. "No withered witch shall here be seen ;
No goblins lead their nightly crew : The female fays shall haunt the green,
And dress thy grave with pearly dew. “The redbreast oft, at evening hours,
Shall kindly lend his little aid,
To deck the ground where thou art laid. " When howling winds and beating rain
In tempests shake the sylvan cell; Or, midst the chase, on every plain,
The tender thought on thee shall dwell.
“Each lonely scene shall thee restore;
For thee the tear be truly shed; Beloved till life can charm no more,
And mourned till pity's self be dead."
Arp. The bird is dead that we have made so much on.
“Yca, bloody cloth, I'll keep thee; for I wished
Thou shouldst be coloured thus."-Act V., Scene 1. The handkerchief spoken of is the token of Imogen's death, which Pisanio, in the foregoing Act, determined to
send to Posthumus.- This is a soliloquy of nature, uttered when the effervescence of a mind agitated, and perturbed, spontaneously and inadvertently discharges itself in words. The speech, throughout all its tenour, if the last conceit be excepted, seems to issue warm from the heart. He first condemns his own violence; then tries to disburden himself, by imputing part of the crime to Pisanio; he next soothes his mind to an artificial and momentary tranquillity, by trying to think that he has been only an instrument of the gods for the happiness of Imogen. He is now grown reasonable enough to determine that, having done so much evil, he will do no more; that he will not fight against the country which he has already injured; but, as life is not longer supportable, he will die in a just cause, and die with the obscurity of a man who does not think himself worthy to be remembered. -Johnsox.
“Why did you throw your wedded lady from you?
Think that you are upon a rock; and now
" Athwart the lane,
Act V., Scene 3. This stoppage of the Roman army by three persons is probably an allusion to the story of the Hays, as related by Holinshed, in his “HISTORY OF SCOTLAND:"
“There was, near to the place of the battle, a long lane, fenced on the sides with ditches and walls made of turf, through the which the Scots which fled were beaten down by the enemies on heaps. Here Hay, with his sons, supposing they might best stay the flight, placed themselves overthwart the lane, beat them back whom they met fleeing, and spared neither friend nor foe, but down they went all such as came within their reach; wherewith divers hardy personages cried unto their fellows to return back unto the battle."
On this little loving incident a pleasant comment has been written by Mr. Pye:-" Imogen comes up to Posthumus, as soon as she knows that the error is cleared up; and, hanging fondly on him, says (not as upbraiding him, but with kindness and good-humour), 'How could you treat your wife thus ?'-in that endearing tone which most readers who are fathers and husbands will understand, who will add poor to wife. She then adds, Now you know who I am, suppose ve were on the edge of a precipice, and throw me from you:meaning, in the same endearing irony, to say, 'I am sure it is as impossible for you to be intentionally unkind to me, as it is for you to kill me.' Perhaps some very wise persons may smile at part of this note: but however much black-letter book's may be necessary to elucidate Shakspere, there are others which require some acquaintance with those familiar pages of the book of nature,
Which learning may not understand,
" JUPITER descends in thunder and lightning."
Act V., Scene 4. It appears from “ACOLASTUS," a comedy by T. Palsgrave, chaplain to King Henry VIII. (bl. I. 1540), that the descent of deities was common to our stage in its earliest state :"Of which the like thing is used to be shewed nowa-days in stage-plays, when some god or some saint is made to appear forth of a cloud, and succoureth the parties which seemed to be towards some great danger through the Soudan's cruelty."
In reference to this scene of the apparitions, Schlegel ingeniously reasons thus :-"Pope, as is well known, was strongly disposed to declare whole scenes to be interpolations of the players ; but his opinions were not much listened to. However, Steevens still accedes to the opinion of Pope, respecting the apparition of the ghosts and of Jupiter in Cymbeline, while Posthumus is sleeping in the dungeon. But Posthumus finds, on waking, a tablet on his breast, with a prophecy on which the dénouement of the piece depends. Is it to be imagined that Shakspere would require of his spectators the belief in a wonder without a visible cause ? Is Posthumus to dream this tablet with the prophecy? But these gentlemen do not descend to this objection. The verses which the apparitions deliver do not appear to them good enough to be Shakspere's. I imagine I can discover why the Poet has not given them more of the splendour of diction. They are the aged parents and brothers of Posthumus, who, from concern for his fate, return from the world below: they ought, consequently, to speak the language of more simple olden time, and their voices ought also to appear as a feeble sound of wailing, when contrasted with the thundering oracular language of Jupiter. For this reason, Shakspere chose a syllabic measure, which was very common before his time, but which was then getting out of fashion, though it still continued to be frequently used, especially in translations of classical poets. In some such
• Something approaching to an adequate eulogy is also given by Schlegel to the general merits of “CYMBELINE." He pronounces it to be “one of Shakspere's most wonderful compositions, in which the Poet has contrived to blend together, into one harmonious whole, the social manners of the latest times with heroic deeds, and even with appearances of the gods. In the character of Imogen not a feature of female excellence is forgotten :-her chaste tenderness, her softness, and her virgin pride; her boundless resignation, and her magnanimity towards her mistakes husband, by whom she is unjustly persecuted; her adventures in disguise, her apparent death, and her recovery,form altogether a picture equally tender and affecting.
"The two princes, Guiderius and Arviragus, both educated in the wilds, form a noble contrast to Miranda and Perdita. In these two young men, to whom the chase has iinparted vigour and hardihood, but who are unacquainted with their high destination, and have always been kept far from human society, we are enchanted by a naive heroism, which leads them to anticipate and to dream of deeds of valour, till an occasion is offered which they are irresistibly impelled to embrace. When Imogen comes in disguise to their cave; when Guiderius and Arviragus form an impassioned friendship, with all the innocence of childhood, for the tender boy (in whom they neither suspect a female nor their own sister); when, on returning from the chase, they find her dead, sing her to the ground, and cover the grave with flowers ;-these scenes might give a new life for poetry to the most deadened imagination.
"The wise and virtuous Belarius, who, after living long as a hermit, again becomes a hero, is a venerable figure; the dexterous dissimulation and quick presence of mind of the Italian, Iachimo, is quite suitable to the bold treachery he plays;-Cymbeline, the father of Imogen (and even her husband, Posthumus), during the first half of the piece, are somewhat sacrificed, but this could not be otherwise ;-the false and wicked Queen is merely an instrument of the plot; she and her stupid son Cloten, whose rude arrogance is pourtrayed with much humour, are got rid of, by merited punishment, before the conclusion."