« PreviousContinue »
other, and so numerous that no one counts or discrimi
A wooer, nates them ? and can we not, etc.
More bateful than the foul expulsion is
Of thy dear husband. Then that horrid act “ Not so allur'd to feed”—Iachimo, in this counter
of the divorce heel'd make the heavens hold firm feited rapture, has shown how the eyes and the judg.
The walls of thy dear honour, etc. ment would determine in favour of Imogen, comparing This is manifestly incorrect, and the conjectural corher with the supposed mistress of Posthumus, and pro rection which the present text retains has been preceeds to say, that appetite too would give the same suf ferred by all the editors since Theobald, except Knight, frage. Desire, says he, when it approached sluttery, who proposes to readand considered it in comparison with such neal excel. lence, would not only be not so allured to feed, but,
More hateful than the foul expulsion is seized with a fit of loathing, would vomit emptiness,
Of thy dear husband. From that horrid act
Of the divorce he'd make, the heavens hold firm would feel the convulsions of disgust, though, being un The walls of thy dear honour, etc. fed, it had no object.-Jonsson.
Thus, a clear sense is attained. The 2 Lord im“ Thus Raps you”-i. e. Absorbs and carries away plores that the honour of Imogen may be held firm, your thoughts : a word familiar to the older poets, but to resist the horrid act of the divorce from her husband now obsolete except in the participle, which is still used which Cloten would make. in poetic and oratorical language; as, in Pope, “ Rapt into future times, the bard began,” and “ the rapt
SCENE II. seraph."
“ – our Tarquin thus “- then BY-PEEPING in an eye"-This is the original Did softly press the rushes," etc. reading of the folios, and seems a bold and not inex “The whole of this scene in its delicacy and beauty pressive phrase for sideway or clandestine glances: it has some resemblance to the night-scene in Shakespeare's is a compound, resembling “ under-peep," in act ii.
TARQUIN AND LUCRECE. Indeed, Shakespeare, in ono scene 2, though of another meaning: Nearly all the or two expressions, seems to have had his own poem ordinary editions follow Johnson, who changed it to distinctly present to his mind. For example :lie peeping.
- By the light he spics “ Base and ILLUSTROUS as the smoky light"—We have
Lucretia's glove, wherein her needle sticks;
He takes it from the rushes where it lies. not hesitated to accept Collier's restoration of this word “illustrous," which, on Rowe's authority, all modern
“ Again: Iachimo says of Imogeneditors change to unlustrous; but the word is “illus
O sleep, thou ape of death, lie dull upon her!
And be her sense but as a monument, trous" (misprinted illustrious) in all the folios, and it
Thus in a chapel lying! ought on every account to be preferred, as that which
“ Lucretia is in the same way described as a monucame from the author's pen, being the phrase of his age;
mental figure reposing upon a pillow :while unlu strous has never been found in any author
Where, like a virtuous monument she lies. until conjecturally manufactured by the Poet's editors.
“ The best illustration of this beautiful image is preThe prefix il or in is of course here used in its negative sense, as in illiterate, illiberal, &c.
sented by Chantrey's exquisite monument of The
Sleeping Children.' '—Knight. “ – and fasten'd to an empery"-Empery is a word We may add, with Judge Blackstone, that this phrase, signifying sovereign command: now obsolete. Shake of Tarquin's “softly" treading, shows the author's speare uses it in Richard III.:-
meaning, in MACBETH, of “ Tarquin's ravishing strides." Your right of birth, your empery, your own.
“ To see the enclosed lights, now canopied ACT II.-SCENE I.
Under these windows; white and azure," etc.
“This celebrated passage has produced differences " Was there ever man had such luck! when I kissed
of opinion among the commentators. Capell says, of the jack upon an up-cast, to be hit away!”
the word windows, the Poet's meaning is shutters.' “ Cloten is here describing his fate at bowls. It is Hanmer changed the word to curtains. The window objected by Stevens to the character of Cloten, that he is the aperture through which light and air are admitted is represented as at once brave and dastardly, civil and to a room—sometimes closed, at other times opened. brutish, sagacious and cruel, without that subtlety of It is the wind-door. We have the word in Rom EO AND distinction, and those shades of gradation between sense JULIET, similarly applied and folly, virtue and vice, which constitute the excel
-Thy eye's windows fall lence of such mixed characters as Polonius in HAMLET,
Like death, when he shuts up the day of life. and the Nurse in ROMEO AND JULIET.' Such inconsis
“Capel then says that the “white and azure" refer tency is, however, far more puzzling than unnatural.
to the white skin, generally, laced with blue veins. Miss Seward assures us, in one of her letters, that sin
Secondly, Malone thinks that the epithets apply to the gular as the character of Cloten may appear, it is the
enclosed lights,' the eyes. Lastly, Warburton decides exact prototype of a being she once knew :-* The un
that the eyelids were intended. The eyelid of an exmeaning frown of the countenance; the shuffling gait;
tremely fair young woman is often of a tint that may be the burst of voice; the bustling insignificance ; the fever- properly called white and azure ;' which is produced and-ague fits of valour; the froward tetchiness; the un
by the net-work of exceedingly fine veins ihat runs principled malice; and, what is most curious, those oc
through and colours that beautiful structure. Shakecasional gleams of good sense amid the floating clouds
speare has described this peculiarity in his VENUS AND of folly which generally darkened and confused the
ADONIS man's brain, and which, in the character of Cloten, we
Her two blue windows faintly she upheaveth. are apt to impute to a violation of unity of character; And in the Winter's Tale, we havebut in the some time Captain C-n I saw the portrait
- Violets dim, of Cloten was not out of nature.'"- Illust. Shak.
But sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes. "- undertake every comPANION"-This is used here, But in the text before us, the eyelids are not only of a and in other passages by Shakespeare, in the same sense ' white and azure' hue, but they are also · lac'd with as fellow is at present. Sir Hugh Evans denounces the blue of heaven's ow tinct,' marked with the deeper host of the Garter as a “scurvy, cogging companion.” blue of the larger veins. The description is here as
accurate as it is beautiful. It cannot apply with such " More hateful than the foul expulsion, etc. propriety to the eye, which certainly is not lac'd with The reading of the original is in the following man blue; nor to the skin generally, which would not be ner:
beautiful as 'white and azure.' It is, to our minds, onc
of the many examples of Shakespeare's extreme accuracy of observation, and of his transcendent power of making the exact and the poetical blend with and support each other."-KNIGHT.
“Swift, swift, you dragons of the night!”—“The task of drawing the chariot of night was assigned to dragons, on account of their supposed watchfulness. Milion mentions the dragon yoke of night,' and the dragon womb of Stygian darkness.'”—Nlust. Shak.
“May BARE the raven's eye"- The folios have “beare the raven's eye,” which Theobald corrected to bare : the raven being a very early bird, the wish is that the dawn may awaken liim. Knight prefers the original, as meaning ihat there may be light enough to sustain that acute vision. The reading of the texi, followed by all other editors, strikes me as clear, and the sense just stated as correct and poetical; but Mr. Barron Field thinks that this expression has been understood too literally, as meaning that the “raven's eye" is bared or opened by the “dawning:" he apprehends that night is here poetically described as “the raven."
SCENE III. “Hark! hark! the lark at heaven's gate sings”—The same hyperbole occurs in Milton's ** Paradise Lost," book v.:-
- ye birds
That singing up to heaven's gate ascend. And in Shakespeare's twenty-ninth Sonnet:-
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen carth, sings hymns at heaven's gate.
Lo, he: e the gentle lark, weary of rest,
The sun ariseth in his majesty.
this song :
11 - Your mother too: She's my good lady." “This is said ironically. My good lady' is equiva. lent to my good friend. So in HENRY IV., Part II., Falstaff says to Prince John: And when you come to court, stand, my good lord, pray, in your good report.'" Ilust. Shak.
SCENE IV. “(Now MINGLED with their courages)"-In the folio, 1623, the word is wing-led, but altered to “mingled" in the folio, 1632, and adopted by Rowe and most mod ern editors. Stevens, Knight, and the German translator Tieck, prefer the compound word, as a bold Shakespearian image, descriptive of borrowing wings from courage.
“ Was Caius Lucius," etc.-In the folios, and the editions before Stevens, this speech is given to Posibumus,
but by a mistake, owing to the same initial belong. ing to Philario. Philario takes up the conversation, while Posthumus is employed in eagerly reading his letters.
ti — the story, Proud Cleopatra, when she met her Roman," etc.
Johnson observes, that “Iachimo's language is such as a skilful villain would naturally use,-a mixture of airy triumph and serious deposition. His gayety shows his seriousness to be without anxiety; and his seriousness proves his gayety to be without art.”
“SINCE the true life on't was"-In this edition the original reading is retained, with the dash, added by the editors to signify a broken or interrupted sentence, which is very intelligible. Yet an error of the press is not improbable, and perhaps M. Mason's correction ought to be received into the text:
Such the true life on't was.
- The roof o' the chamber With golden cherubins is fretted." Stevens calls this “a tawdry image." Douce justly says, "The Poet has, in this instance, given a faithful description of the mode in which the rooms in great houses were sometimes ornamented."
" — her andirons (I had forgot them) were two rinking Cupids," etc.
The andirons of our ancestors were sometimes not only costly pieces of furniture, but beautiful works of art; the standards were often, as here described, of silver, representing some terminal figure or device; the transverse or horizontal pieces, upon which the wood was supported, were what Shakespeare here calls the brands, properly brandirons. Upon these the Cupids which formed the standards “nicely depended," seeming to stand on one foot.
- Then, if you can Be pale : I beg but leave to air this jewel; see!"This passage is usually pointed thus
- Then, if you can, Be pale ; I beg but leave to air this jewel. Johnson interprets this reading, “ If you can forbear to flush your cheek with rage." Boswell says, “ if you can restrain yourself within bounds; as pale is used for to confine or surround." With Knight we follow the punctuation of the original, which gives a clear meaning
- Then, if you can Be pale, I beg but leave to air this jewel. Iachimo has produced no effect upon Posthumus as yet, but he now says, “If you can be pale, I will see what this jewel will do to make you change countenance."
- her attendants are All sworn, and honourable.” Dr. Percy-shows, that 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.
What bird so sings, yet so does wail?
Cuckoo to welcome in the spring. Passages in Chaucer, Spenser, Skelton, etc., have been pointed out by Mr. Douce, which have parallel thoughts.
“On chalic'd flowers that lies”—This apparently false concord is in truth a touch of old English idiom. See note in ROMEO AND JULIET, act ii.
“ With every thing that pretty is"-So all the old copies, and not “pretty bin," as Hanmer altered the text. In this kind of ballad-measure, it was not required that each line should have its rhyme; the more usual practice was the reverse.
“ Diana's rangers False themselves"—In this instance, false is not an adjective, but a verb; and as such is also used in the Comedy of Errors, “Nay, not sure, in a thing falsing :" act ii. scene 2. Spenser often has it:
Thou falsed hast thy faith with perjury. “ – and must not foil”—The modern reading has been soil for “foil," as it is printed in all the old editions: to “foil the precious note of it" is as intelligible as to soil, and no change seems required. In ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA the same word occurs, and the same needless alteration was made.
"Ahilding for a livery”-A “hilding" or hinderling, means a low wretch. Horne Tooke derives it from hyldan, Sax. to crouch.
gold, and caused himself with great solemnity to be
crowned :-and because he was the first that bare a “Is there no way for men to be," etc.—“Milton was
crown here in Britain, after the opinion of some writers, rery probably indebted to this speech for one of the
he is named the first king of Britain, and all the other entiments which he has imparted to Adam, Paradise before rehearsed are named rulers, dukes, or governors. Lost,' Book x.:
Among other of his ordinances, he appointed weights - why did God,
and measures, with the which men should buy and sell: Creator wise, that peopled highest heaven With spirits masculine, create at last
and further, he caused sore and strait orders for the This novelty on earth, this fair defect
punishment of theft."
6- Thou art welcome, Caius.
Thy Cæsar knighted me; my youth I spent," etc. Mankind ? “See also, Rhodomont's invective against women, in
Hollingshed has thrown light on this passage also : the Orlando Furioso,' and, above all, a speech which
• Kymbeline (as some write) was brought up at Rome, Euripides has put into the mouth of Hippolytus, in the
and there was made knight by Augustus Cæsar, under
whom he served in the wars, and was in such favour tragedy bearing his name."-STEVENS. Of these great poets, Milton was the only imitator,
with him that he was at liberty to pay his tribute or not.
-Yet we find in the Roman writers, that after Julius and he was familiar alike with Shakespeare, Euripides, and Ariosto, and frequently interwove their thoughts
Cæsar's death, when Augustus had taken upon him the and images with his own solemn lay. It is as unques
rule of the empire, the Britons refused to pay that tionable that the three last named were all equally
tribute.-But whether the controversy which appeared
to fall forth between the Britons and Augustus was ocoriginal in this thought.
casioned by Kymbeline, I have not a vouch.-Kymbe“ The very devils cannot plague them better." line reigned thirty-five years, leaving behind him two This is the same idea expressed by Sir Thomas sons, Guiderius and Arviragus." More" God could not lightly do a man more ven “ Behoves me keep at UTTERANCE"-i. e. To keep at geance than in this world to grant him his own foolish
the extremity of defiance. Combat à l'outrance is a fight wishes.”—MORE's “ Comfort against Tribulation." that must conclude with the life of one of the combatants.
So, in MACBETH:-
Rather than so, come, fate, into the list,
And champion me to the utterance. " Yearly three thousand pounds”—The computation of the amounts of plunder, tribute, wealth of conquered “ I am PERFECT"-i. e. assured. So, in the Winkings, &c., not in Roman sesterces, or the foreign money TER'S TALEof account, but in pounds of gold or silver, is of such Thou art perfect then, our ship hath touch'd upon frequent occurrence in ancient writers, that it is not
The deserts of Bohemia. ascribing any great learning or antiquarian accuracy to Shakespeare, who was well read in the translations at
SCENE II. least of several of the classics, to understand him here What monsters her accuse?”—So every old copy: just as we should Knowles or Miss Baillie, in any similar every modern edition, except Collier's, “What monster's case, as speaking not of pounds sterling but of pounds her accuser?” I agree with Collier, that no variation weight of coin, as a Roman would have estimated the from the ancient text is required; though it is maintaintribute-money of a subject foreign prince.
ed on the ground of the single person, the “ false Ital“ With Rocks unscaleable"-The original reads oaks.
ian," afterwards mentioned. The epithet shows it to be a misprint, and proves the “Shall give thee opportunity”—“The original stagepropriety of the correction, which is Hanmer's.
direction for this scene was— Enter Pisanio, reading of a O, giglot fortune"-"Strumpet fortune,” as she is
letter.' The modern editors, when they come to the called in HAMLET. Thus, young Talbot, in Henry VI.,
passage beginning “Do't,” insert another stage-direction calls Joan of Arc “a giglot wench."
of Reading.' Upon this, Malone raises up the follow
ing curious theory :-Our Poet, from negligence some"— to master Cæsar's sword"-Shakespeare has here times makes words change their form under the eye transferred to Cassibelan an adventure which happened of the speaker, who in different parts of the same play to his brother Nennius. “The same historie (says Hol recites them differently, though he has a paper or letter lingshed) also make mention of Nennius, brother to in his hand, and actually reads from it. Cassibellane, who in fight happened to get Cæsar's sword The words here read by Pisanio from his master's letter fastened in his shield by a blow which Cæsar stroke at (which is afterwards given at length, and in prose) are him. But Nennius died within fifteen days after the not found there, though the substance of them is conbattel, of the hurt received at Cæsar's hand, although tained in it. This is one of many proofs that Shakeafter he was hurt he slew Labienus, one of the Roman speare had no view to the publication of his pieces. tribunes," book iii. chap. 13. Nennius, we are told There was little danger that such an inaccuracy should by Geoffrey of Monmouth, was buried with great funeral be detected by the ear of the spectator, though it could pomp, and Cæsar's sword placed in his tomb.—Malone. || hardly escape an attentive reader.' Now, we would Mulmutius made our laws,
ask, what can be more natural, what can be more truly Who was the first of Britain which did put," etc.
in Shakespeare's own manner, which is a reflection of The title of the first chapter of Hollingshed's third
nature, than that a person having been deeply moved book of the “ History of England," is:—“Of Mulmutins,
by a letter which he has been reading, should comment the first King of Britain who was crowned with a golden
upon the substance of it without repeating the exact crown, his laws, his foundations," etc.
words ? The very commencement of Pisanio's solilo“Mulmutius, the son of Cloten, got the upper hand
quy—How! of adultery ?' is an example of this. of the other dukes or rulers; and, after his father's de
Really, a critic, putting on a pair of spectacles, to cease, began to reign over the whole monarchy of Britain,
compare the recollections of deep feeling with the docuin the year of the world 3529. He made many good
ment which has stirred that feeling, as he would comlaws, which were long after used, called Mulmutius'
pare the copy of an affidavit with the original, is a
Iudicrous exhibition."-KNIGHT. laws, turned out of the British speech into Latin by Gildas Priscus, and long time after translated out of Latin
“Good wax, thy leave.- Blessed be, into English by Alfred, King of England, and mingled You bees, that make these locks of counsel !" etc. in his statutes. After he had established his land, he “ The meaning is, that the bees are not blessed by the ordained him, by the advice of his lords, a crown of man who is sent to prison for forfeiting a bond, which
is sealed with their product-wax, as they are by lovers, trasted) attending his prince only to suffer rejection or for whom the same substance performs the more pleas- delay of his suit. He “speeds to-day to be pat back ing office of sealing letters."
to-morrow;" as Spenser in a similar passage bas de The allusion shows technical familiarity with the laws scribed the life of ihe “unhappy wight,—that doth his of that day. The seal was essential to the bond, though || life in so long tendance spend." a signature was not; and forfeiters is the technical term The next line is in the original edition (followed by for the breach of covenant, (by non-payment or other the other folios) printed “Richer than doing nothing wise,) by which the penalty became absolute in law. for a babe.” This hardly gives an intelligible sellise ; - would even renew me with your eyes”—It has
though Stevens thinks that it may allude to the wardship been usual to vary from the old copies, by reading,
of infants of fortune, given to favourites at court, wb “would not even renew me;" but this change, as Mr.
enjoyed the revenue of their wards and did nothing for Amyot remarks, hardly seems required, the sense being,
them. This is so obscurely expressed, and alludes to a that Justice and the wrath of Cymbeline could not do
circumstance so little familiar, that it can hardly have Posthumus any cruelty, but such as might be remedied
been meant, and an error of the press or copyist seems by the eyes of Imogen.
more likely. Warburton therefore conjectured the true
reading to be for “a bauble;" i. e. "some empty title “— say, and speak thick”-i. e. Rapidly: as, “ My gained by court attendance;" and as bauble was an. heart beats thicker," in TROILUS AND CRESSIDA. ciently spelled bable, this is by no means an improbable "- nimbler than the sands"-It may be necessary
emendation. Johnson proposed to read brabe, (a word lo apprise the reader that the sand of an hour-glass
of his own coinage from the Latin brabe-ium,) a rewand used to measure time is meant. The figurative mean
or prize. There is no trace of any such English word ing is, swifter than the flight of time.-SINGER.
in this sense; but the same word is found, thongh rarely,
in the meaning of “scornful or contemptuous looks or " A FRANKLIN's housewife”—The franklin in Shake
words.” In this sense Singer has adopted it in his text speare's time had, for the most part, gone upward into
The objection to this is, that it is but a repetition of the the squire, or downward into the yeoman; and the former line,-a waste of words wholly unusual in the name had probably become synonymous with the small condensed and elliptical style in which Shakespeare genfreeholder and cultivator. « A franklin's housewife"
erally presents his moral reflections. The emendation would wear “no costlier suit" than Imogen desired for
received in our text is that of Hanmer, which Knight concealment. Latimer has described the farmer of the
and Collier adopt—"for a bribe.” It corresponds better early part of the sixteenth century :-"My father was a
than any other word with the preceding word richer; yeoman, and had no lands of his own, only he had a
and the mistake might easily have been made even in farm of three or four pound by the year, at the utter
copying or printing from clearer manuscript than most most, and hereupon he tilled so much as kept half a
authors make. The sense is good :-"Such a life of dozen men. He had walk for an hundred sheep, and
activity is richer than that of the bribed courtier, eren my mother milked thirty kine."
though he pocket his bribe without rendering any re“Nor what ensues, but have a fog in them," etc. turn." Such a thought is natural in Belarius, who had We adopt Monck Mason's punctuation and interpre
seen the vices of the great, and was perfectly intelligible tation of this passage. “I see before me, man," is, I
to Shakespeare's audience, who lived in those “good old see clearly that my course is for Milford. Nor here,
times” when the greatest, and sometimes the wisest, nor there, nor what follows-neither this way, nor that
were not only accessible to bribes, but expected them; way, nor the way behind—but have a fog in them.
while every concern of life was dependant upon the
caprice or the favour of those in power. A note in SCENE III.
Knight's edition deduces the whole passage from some
well-known lines of Spenser, in his " Mother Hubbard's " -- that giants may set through"-TO "jet" is to Tale," much resembling this train of thought. Our Poet strut. Thus, in the next age, Herrick, a short-winged had seen enough of this sort of life not to be obliged to poet, unequal to any long-sustained flight, but of un describe it at second-hand; yet he may have had Spenusual grace and felicity in shorter ones, speaks in his ser's verses in his mind, and they certainly throw light “ Noble Numbers"
on his meaning and corroborate the proposed correction Of those that prank it with their plumes,
of the text. The “doing nothing for a bribe" corresAnd jet it with their choice perfumes.
ponds with Spenser's satirical glance at court life:“ This service is not service"-In any service done,
Or otherwise false Reynold would abuse the advantage rises not from the act, but from the allow
The simple suitor, and wish him to choose
His master, being one of great regard ance (i. e. approval) of it.
In court, to compass any suit not hard. The SHARDED beelle"-" There is a controversy
In case his pains were recompensed with reason,
So would he work the silly man by treason about the meaning of shard' as applied to a beetle. In
To buy his master's frivolous good will, Hamlet, the Priest says of Ophelia
That had not power to do him good or ill. Shards, fiats, and pebbles, should be thrown on her.
“ Prouder than rustling in un paid-for silk," etc. A shard here is a thing divided ; and it is used for something worthless, as fragments. Mr. Tollet says
“ As we have had the nobler and richer life, we have that shard signifies dung; and that the shard-born
now the prouder. The mountain life is compared with
that ofbeetle' in Macbeth is the beetle born in dung. This
Rustling in unpaid-for silk. is certainly only a secondary meaning of shard. We cannot doubt that Shakespeare, in the passage before
The illustrative lines which are added mean that such a us, uses the epithet sharded as applied to the flight of one as does rustle in unpaid-for silk receives the cour. the beetle. The sharded beetle,-the beetle whose tesy (gains the cap) of him that makes him fine, yet he, scaly wing-cases are not formed for a flight above the the wearer of silk, keeps his, the creditor's, book unearth,-is contrasted with the full-winged eagle. The
cross'd. To cross the book is, even now, a common shards support the insect when he rises from the ground; expression for obliterating the entry of a debt. It bebut they do not enable him to cleave the air with a bird longs to the rude age of credit. The original reading is like wing. The “shard-borne beetle' of Macbeth is,
Such gain the cap of him that makes him fine. therefore, the beetle supported on its shards."--Knight. but the second him is generally altered to them. We " — nobler, than attending for a check;
have adopted the slighter alteration of gains."-KNIGHT. Richer, than doing nothing for a bribe."
“ Yet keeps his book Uncross'D'- The tradesman's “Attending for a check" refers to the courtier's (with book was crossed when the account was paid. The alwhose life that of the free forester is throughout con lusions to this circumstance in old writers are frequent.
"- What should we speak of, When we are old as you." ** 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.
“ - they took thee for their mother, “And every day do honour to her grave.” Malone pronounces that “ the Poet ought to have written, to thy grave,” and Stevens adds that “ he probably did write so, but that her was a corruption of the printer.” There is no reason for either comment. Her grave refers to “their mother," in reverence to whom the sons did every day honour to her supposed grave. Thy grave would give a somewhat different, and less full sense.
" — Ne'cr longed my mother so To see me first, as I have now." Southern altered his copy of the folio, 1685, thus :
Ne'er long'd his mother so
To see him first, as I have nowwhich certainly is more consistent with Imogen's state of mind, and readers the words “as I have now" more relative. It may have been an original misprint in the folio, 1623.
" Where is Posthumus"-Well-educated men in England have an accuracy as to Latin quantity, and lay a stress upon it, such as are elsewhere found only among professed scholars. On this account Stevens, and other critics, have considered the erroneous quantity or accentuation of Posthumns and Arvirá gas, as decisive of Shakespeare's want of learning. But the truth is, that in his day, great latitude, in this respect, prevailed among authors; and it is probable that Latin was taught in the schools, as it still is in Scotland and many parts of the United States, without any minute attention to prosody. Stevens himself has shown that the older poets were careless in this matter, Thus the poetical Earl of Stirling has Darius and Euphrates with the pen. ultimate short. Warner, who was, I believe, a scholar, in his “Albiou's England,” has the same error with Shakespeare, as to both dames. Posthumus, in this play, is accented sometimes on the first, and sometimes on the second syllable.
If it be summer news,
Yet not the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell
Could make me any summer's story tell.
Some day of Ilaly'—"Putta, in Italian, signifies both a jay and a whore. We have the word again in the MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR: Teach him to know lurtles from jays.' The text continues, "Some jay of Italy, whose mother was her painting'—i. e. made by art: the creature not of nature, but of painting. In this sense painting may be said to be her mother. Stevens met with a similar phrase in some old play: ‘A parcel of conceited feather-caps, whose fathers were their garments.'”-SINGER.
Knight is not satisfied with this sense, and suggests reading, for mother, muffler, as referring to the veil or mask worn by courtesans. This one, according to the proposed reading, needed no other mask or covering than her thick painting.
“— RICHER than to HANG BY THE WALLS”—"To hang by the walls, does not mean, to be converted into hangings for a room, but to be hung up, as useless, among the neglected contents of a wardrobe. So, in MEASURE FOR MEASURE: Tbat have, like unscour'd armour, hung by the wall.
“When a boy, at an ancient mansion-house in Suffolk, I saw one of these repositories, which (thanks to a succension of old maids !) had been preserved, with superstitions reverence, for almost a century and a half.
Clothes were not formerly, as at present, made of slight materials, kept in drawers, or given away as soon as lapse of time or change of fashion had impaired their value. On the contrary, they were hung on wooden pegs in a room appropriated to the purpose of receiving them; and though such cast-off things as were composed of rich substances, were occasionally ripped for domestic uses, (viz. mantles for infants, vests for children, and counterpanes for beds,) articles of inferior quality were suffered to hang by the walls, till age and moths had destroyed what pride would not permit to be worn by servants or poor relations.
Comitem horridulum trita donare lacernaseems not to have been customary among our ancestors. When Queen Elizabeth died, she was found to have left above three thousand dresses behind her; and there is yet in the wardrobe of Covent-Garden Theatre a rich suit of clothes that once belonged to King James I. When I saw it last, it was on the back of Justice Greedy, a character in Massinger's New Way to pay Old Debts.'”-STEVENS.
" — Come, here's my heart: Something's afore't :-Soft, soft! we'll no defence."
“ In this passage, we have another of Rowe's happy verbal corrections. The original copy reads, “Something's afoot.'”—Illust. Shak.
“Of princely FELLOWS"-"Fellows" means the equals of Imogen, who sought her hand in marriage.
“ I'U wake mine eye-balls blind first'' -- With all the later editors we adopt Johnson's reading here. In the old copies “blind" is omitted; but that, or some equivalent monosyllable, seems necessary for the sense and metre. “ Hath Britain all the sun that shines ? Day, night, Are they not but in Britain ?"
" It seems probable that here, as also on a similar occasion in Richard II., Shakespeare 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.'"-Illust. Shak.
if you could wear a MIND, Dark as your fortune is,' etc. “To wear a dark mind, is to carry a mind impenetrable to the search of others,
Darkness, applied to the mind, is secrecy; applied to the fortune, is obscurity. The next lines are obscure. You must, says Pisanio, disguise that greatness, which, to appear hereafter in its proper form, cannot yet appear without great danger to itself."--Johnson,
SCENE V. to the loud noise we make”—The preposition of is inserted after “ loud" in the folio, 1623 : it is needless to the sense, and injurious to the metre; but modern editors have printed the passage, "to the loud'st of noise we make." We are indebted to Mr. Collier for the restoration of the true reading and improving the metre, without any of the wanton innovation so common in the school of Stevens.
" -- FORESTAL him of the coming day”--i. e. May his grief this night prevent him from ever
seeing another day, by an anticipated and premature destruction! So, in Milton's Masque :'-Perhaps forestalling night prevented thein.