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Agam. The better. (Exeunt AGAM. and Nest. Achil.
Good day, good day. Men. How do you? how do you? [Exit MEN. Achil.
What, does the cuckold scorn me? Ajax. How now, Patroclus? Achil.
Good morrow, Ajax. Ajax.
Ha? Achil. Good morrow, Ajax.
Ay, and good next day too.
[Exit AJAX. Achil. What mean these fellows? Know they not
Achil. What, am I poor of late?
1 Good morrow.) Perhaps, in this repetition of the salute, we should read, as in the preceding instance,--Good morrow, Ajax; or, with more colloquial spirit, -I say, good morrow. Otherwise the metre is defective. Steevens.
- but honour -] Thus the quarto. The folio reads- bat konour'd. Malone,
How now, Ulysses?
Now, great Thetis' son ?
A strange fellow here
This is not strange, Ulysses:
Ulyss. I do not strain at the position,
how dearly ever parted,] However excellently endowed, with however dear or precious parts enriched or adorned. Johnson.
Johnson's explanation of the word parted is just. So, in Ben Jonson's Every Man out of his Humour, be describes Macilente as a man well parted; and in Massinger's Great Duke of Florence, Sanazarro says of Lydia:.
“ And I, my lord, chose rather
66. Than to take from her.” M. Mason. So, in a subsequent passage:
no man is the lord of any thing,
“Till he communicate his parts to others.” Malone.
“ No, Cassius; for the eye sees not itself,
“But by reflexion, by some other things.” Steevens. 5 To others' cyes :
(That most pure spirit &c.] These two lines are totally omit. ed in all the editions but the first quarto. Pope.
6 For speculation turns not &c.] Speculation has here the same meaning as in Macbeth:
5 Thou hast no speculation in those eyes
It is familiar; but at the author's drift:
in his circumstance,] In the detail or circumduction of his argument. Johnson.
which, like - ] Old copies—who, like - Corrected by Mr. Rowe. Malone.
- a gate of steel
Fronting the ng] This idea appears to have been caught from some of our ancient romances, which often describe gates of similar materials and effulgence. Steevens.
1 The unknown Ajax.] Ajax, who has abilities, which were ne. ver brought into view or use. Johnson.
- Now shall we see to-morrow,
Ajax'renown'd.] I once thought that we ought to read renown. But by considering the middle line as parenthetical, the passage is sufficiently clear. Malone.
By placing a break after him, the construction will be:--Now we shall see to-morrow an act that very chance doth throw upon him [we shall see] Ajax renown’d. Henley.
3 How some men creep in skittish fortune's hall,] To creep is to keep out of sight from whatever motive. Some men keep out of ne
Whiles others play the idiots in her eyes!
Achil. I do believe it: for they pass’d by me,
tice in the hall of fortune, while others, though they but play tlie idiot, are always in her eye, in the way of distinction. Fohnson.
I cannot think that creep, used without any explanatory word, can mean to keep out of sight. While some men, says Ulysses, remain tamely inactive in fortune's hall, without any effort to excite her attention, others, &c. Such, I think, is the meaning Malone.
* I must differ in opinion with both the learned commentators on this passage. The meaning I take to be this :
It is wonderful, how some men siicceed, unendowed with talents; while some men, who possess every requisite, leave to do, or neglect to do: How some men creep into the good graces of fortune, whiles others, who have talents to command her smiles, play the fool, and forfeit her favours.
Mr. Malone's note on the next line supports what I have advanced, and the two lines which follow
“ To see these Grecian lords !-why, even already
“ They clap the lubber Ajax on the shoulder;") sufficiently explains the moral, and points the application. Am. Ed.
- fasting - ] Quarto. The folio has feasting. Either word may bear a good sense. Fohnson.
I have preferred fasting, the reading of the quarto, to feasting, which we find in the folio, not only because the quarto copies are in general preferable to the folio, but because the original reading furnishes that kind of antithesis of which our poet was so fond. One man eats, while another fasts. Achilles is he who fasts; who capriciously abstains from those active exertions which would furnish new food for his pride. Malone.
5 And great Troy shrinking.) The quarto-shrieking. The folio has, less poetically,--shrinking. The following passage in the subsequent scene supports the reading of the quarto:
“ Hark, how Troy roars; how Hecuba cries out;
“ And all cry-Hector, Hector's dead.” Malone. I prefer the reading of the folio. That the collective body of martial Trojans should shrink at sight of their hero's danger, is surely more natural to be supposed, than that, like frighted women, they would unite in a general shriek.
As to what Cassandra says, in the preceding note,it is the fate of that lady's evidence-never to be received. Steevens.
Good word, nor look: What, are my deeds forgot?
Ulyss. Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back, Wherein he puts alms for oblivion, A great-sized monster of ingratitudes: Those scraps are goods deeds past: which are devour'd As fast as they are made, forgot as soon As done: Perseverance, dear my lord, Keeps honour bright: To have done, is to hang Quite out of fashion, like a rusty mail In monumental mockery. Take the instant way; For honour travels in a strait so narrow, Where one but goes abreast: keep then the path; For emulation hath a thousand sons, That one by one pursue: If you give way, Or hedge aside from the direct forthright, Like to an enter'd tide, they all rush by, And leave
hindmost; Or, like a gallant horse fallen in first rank, Lie there for pavement to the abject rear,? O'er-run and trampled on: Then what they do in pre
sent, Though less than yours in past, must o'ertop yours : For time is like a fashionable host,
6 Time hath, any lord, a wallet at his back.] This speech is printed in all the modern editions with such deviations from the old copy, as exceed the lawful power of an editor. Johnson. This image is literally from Spenser:
“ And eeke this wallet at your backe arreare
Fairy Queen, B. VI, c. viii, st. 24. Boaden. to the abject rear,] So Hanmer. All the editors before him read-to the abject near. Johnson.
8 Oer-run &c.] The quarto wholly omits the simile of the horse, and read's thus:
And leave you hindmost, then what they do at present
Or, like a gallant horse Johnson. The construction is, Or, like a gallant horse, &c. you lie there for pavement
--; the personal pronoun of a preceding line being understood here. There are many other passages in these plays which a similar ellipsis is found. So, in this play p. 115: “ but commends itself - " instead of " - but it commends itself.”