Page images
PDF
EPUB

This novel exhibits the material features of its original; though the names of the characters are changed, their sentiments de based, and their conduct rendered still more improbable than in the scenes before us. John of Florence is the Ambrogiulo, Ambrosius of Jennens the Bernabo of the story. Of the translator's elegance of imagination, and felicity of expression, the two following instances may be sufficient. He has converted the pic. turesque mole under the left breast of the lady, into a black wart on her left arm; and when at last, in a male habit, she discovers her sex, instead of displaying her bosom only, he obliges her to appear before the King and his whole court completely “naked, save that she had a karcher of sylke before hyr members.”—The whole work is illustrated with wooden cuts representing every scene throughout the narrative.

I know not that any advantage is gained by the discovery of this antiquated piece, unless it serves to strengthen our belief that some more faithful translation had furnished Shakspeare with incidents which, in their original Italian, to him at least were inaccessible. Steevens.

PERSONS REPRESENTED.

Cymbeline, king of Britain.
Cloten, son to the queen by a former husband.
Leonatus Posthumus, a gentleman, husband to Imogen.
Belarius, a banished lord, disguised under the name of

Morgan.
Guiderius,

sons to Cymbeline, disguised under the names Arviragus,

of Polydore and Cadwal, supposed s0ns to

Belarius.
Philario, friend to Posthumus,

Italians.
Iachimo, friend to Philario,
A French gentleman, friend to Philario.
Caius Lucius, general of the Roman forces.
A Roman captain. Two British capitains.
Pisanio, servant to Posthumus.
Cornelius, a physician.
Two gentlemen.
Two gaolers.

}

Queen, wife to Cymbeline.
Imogen, daughter to Cymbeline by a former queen.
Helen, woman to Imogen.

Lords, ladies, Roman senators, tribunes, apparitions, a

soothsayer, a Dutch gentleman, a Spanish gentleman musicians, officers, captains, soldiers, messengers, and other attendants.

SCENE,
Sometimes in Britain; sometimes in Italy,

CYMBELINE.

ACT I.....SCENE I.

Britain. The Garden behind Cymbeline's Palace.

Enter Two Gentlemen.
I Gent. You do not meet a man, but frowns: our

bloods
No more obey the heavens, than our courtiers;
Still seem, as does the king's.?

seem.

66

1 You do not meet a man, but frowns : our bloods No more obey the heavens than our courtiers;

Still seem, as does the kings.] The thought is this: we are not now (as we were wont) influenced by the weather, but by the king's looks. We no more obey the heavens (the sky) than our courtiers obey the heavens Gol] By which it appears that the read. ing-our bloods, is wrong. For though the blood may be affected with the weather, yet that affection is discovered not by change of colour, but by change of countenance. And it is the outward not the inward change that is liere talked of, as appears from the word We should read therefore:

our bro's No more obey the heavens, &c. which is evident from the precedent words :

You do not meet a man but frowns.
And from the following:

Bint not a courtier,
“ Altliough they wear their faces to the bent
“Of the king's look, but hath a heart that is

“Glad at the thing they scowl at.” The Oxford editor improves upon this emendation, and reads:

our looks No more obey the heart, ev'n than our courtiers. But by venturing 100 far, at a second emendation, he has stript it of all thought and sentiment. Warburton

This passage is so difficult, that commentators may differ concerning it without animosity or shame. Of the two emendations proposed, Sir Thomas Hanmer's is the most licentious; but he makes the sense clear, and leaves the reader an easy passage. Dr. Warburton has corrected with more caution, but less improve. ment: bis reasoning upon his own reading is so obscure and perplexed, that I suspect some injury of the press.-I am now to tell my opinion, which is, that the lines stand as they were originally written, and that a paraphrase, such as the licentious and

2 Gent.

But what 's the matter? i Gent. His daughter, and the heir of his kingdom,

whom

66

abrupt expressions of our author too frequently require, will make emendation unnecessary. We do not meet a man but frowns; our bloods -our countenances, which, in popular speech, are said to be regulated by the temper of the blood,—no more obey the laws of heaven,—which direct us to appear what we really are,-than our courtiers :-that is than the bloods of our courtiers; but our bloods, like theirs,—still seem as doth the king's. Johnson.

In The Yorkshire Tragedy, 1608, which has been attributed to Shakspeare, blood appears to be used for inclination:

“ For 'tis our blood to love what we are forbidden." Again, in King Lear, Act IV, sc. ii:

Were it my fitness “ To let these hands obey my blood.In King Henry VIII, Act III, sc. iv, is the same thought:

subject to your countenance, glad, or sorry, “ As I saw it inclin'd.” Steevens. I would propose to make this passage clear by a very slight alteration, only leaving out the last letter:

You do not meet a man but frowns : our bloods
No more obey the heavens, than our courtiers

Still seem, as does the king. That is, Still look as the king does; or, as he expresses it a little differently afterwards:

wear their faces to the bent “Of the king's look.” Tyrwhitt. The only error that I can find in this passage is, the mark of the genitive case annexed to the word courtiers, which appears to be a modern innovation, and ought to be corrected. The meaning of it is this:-“ Our dispositions no more obey the heavens than our courtiers do; they still seem as the king's does.” The obscurity arises from the omission of the pronoun they, by a common poetical licence. M. Mason.

Blood is so frequently used by Shakspeare for natural disposition, that there can be no doubt concerning the meaning here. So, in All's Well that Ends Well:

“ Now bis important blood will nought deny

" That she'll demand.” See also Timon of Athens, Act IV, sc. ii, Vol. XV.

I have followed the regulation of the old copy, in separating the word courtiers from what follows, by placing a semicolon after it. “ Still seem,” for “ they still seem,” or “our bloods still seem,” is common in Shakspeare. The mark of the genitive case, which has been affixed in the late editions to the word courtiers, does not appear to me necessary, as the poet might intend to say “than our courtiers obey the heavens:" though, it must be owned, the modern regulation derives some support from what follows:

He purpos'd to his wife's sole son, (a widow,
That late he married, hath referr'd herself
Unto a poor but worthy gentleman: She's wedded;
Her husband banish’d; she imprison'd: all
Is outward sorrow ;ể though, I think, the king
Be touch'd at very heart.
2 Gent.

None but the king?
I Gent. He, that hath lost her, too: so is the queen,
That most desir'd the match: But not'a courtier,
Although they wear their faces to the bent
Of the king's looks, hath a heart that is not
Glad at the thing they scowl at.
2 Gent.

And why so? i Gent. He that hath miss'd the princess, is a thing Too bad for bad report: and he that hath her, (I mean, that married her,--alack, good man! And therefore banish’d,) is a creature such As, to seek through the regions of the earth For one his like, there would be something failing In him that should compare. I do not think, So fair an outward, and such stuff within, Endows a man but he. 2 Gent.

You speak him far.3
I Gent. I do extend him, sir, within himself ;*

2

but not a courtier,
Although they wear their faces to the bent

Of the king's looks,We have again, in Antony and Cleopatra, a sentiment similar to that before us:

- for he would shine on those
That made their looks by his.” Malone.

She's wedded;
Her husband banish’d; she imprison'd: all
Is outward sorrow; &c ] I would reform the metre as follows:

She's wed; her husband banish'd, she imprison'd:

All's outward sorrow; &c. Wed is used for wedded, in The Comedy of Errors: “ In Syracusa was I born, and wed,

Steevens. 3 You speak him far.] i. e. you praise him extensively. Steevens.

You are lavish in your encomiums on him: your eulogium has a wide compass.

Malone. 4 I do extend him, sir, within himself ;] I extend him within himself; my praise, however extensive, is within his merit.

Yohnson

« PreviousContinue »