« AnteriorContinuar »
Leaves them invisible; and his siege is now Against the mindo, the which he pricks and
wounds With many legions of strange fantasies ; 6 Leaves them inVISIBLE; and his siege is now
Against the mind,] As the word invisible has no sense in this
passage, I have no doubt but the modern editors are right in reading insensible, which agrees with the two preceding lines :
“ Against the mind," &c. The last lines are evidently intended as a paraphrase, and confirmation of the two first. M. Mason.
Invisible is here used adverbially. Death, having glutted himself with the ravage of the almost wasted body, and knowing that the disease with which he has assailed it is mortal, before its dissolution, proceeds, from mere satiety, to attack the mind, leaving the body invisibly ; that is, in such a secret manner that the eye cannot precisely mark his progress, or see when his attack on the vital
powers has ended, and that on the mind begins; or, in other words, at what particular moment reason ceases to perform its function, and the understanding, in consequence of a corroding and mortal malady, begins to be disturbed. Our poet, in his Venus and Adonis, calls Death, “ invisible commander.”
Henry is here only pursuing the same train of thought which we find in his first speech in the present scene.
Our author has, in many other passages in his plays, used adjectives adverbially. So, in All's Well That Ends Well : “ Was it not meant damnable in us,” &c. Again, in King Henry IV. Part I. : “ - ten times more dishonourable ragged than an old faced ancient." See vol. x. p. 438, n. 7, and King Henry IV. Act IV. Sc. II.
Mr. Rowe reads-her siege-, an error derived from the corruption of the second folio. I suspect, that this strange mistake was Mr. Gray's authority for making Death a female; in which, I believe, he has neither been preceded, or followed, by any English poet :
“ The painful family of Death,
queen.” The old copy, in the passage before us, reads-Against the wind; an evident error of the press, which was corrected by Mr. Pope, and which I should scarcely have mentioned, but that it justifies an emendation made in Measure for Measure, (vol. ix. p. 72, Which, in their throng and press to that last
n. 2,] where, by a similar mistake, the word flawes appears in the old copy instead of flames.' MALONE. Mr. Malone reads :
" Death, having prey'd upon the outward parts,
“ Leaves them invisible ;” &c. As often as I am induced to differ from the opinions of a gentleman whose laborious diligence in the cause of Shakspeare is without example, I subject myself to the most unwelcome part of editorial duty. Success, however, is not, in every instance, proportionable to zeal and effort ; and he who shrinks from controversy, should also have avoided the vestibulum ipsum, primasque fauces, of the school of Shakspeare.
Sir Thomas Hanmer give us--insensible, which affords a meaning sufficiently commodious. But, as invisible and insensible are not words of exactest consonance, the legitimacy of this emendation has been disputed. It yet remains in my text, for the sake of those who discover no light ihrough the ancient reading.
Perhaps (I speak without confidence) our author wrote-invincible, which, in sound, so nearly resembles invisible, that an inattentive compositor might have substituted the one for the other.All our modern editors (Mr. Malone excepted) agree that invincible, in King Henry IV. Part II. Act III. Sc. II. was a misprint for invisible ; and so (vice versa) invisible may here have usurped the place of invincible.
If my supposition be admitted, the Prince must design to say, that Death had battered the royal outworks, but, seeing they were invincible, quitted them, and directed his force against the mind. In the present instance, the King of Terrors is described as a besieger, who, failing in his attempt to storm the bulwark, proceeded to undermine the citadel. Why else did he change his mode and object of attack ?- The Spanish ordnance sufficiently preyed on the ramparts of Gibraltar, but still left them impregnable. The same metaphor, though not continued so far, occurs again in Timon of Athens :
- and yet my heart
“ That does my life besiege."
before us; and leaving the word siege out of his account, appears to represent Death as a gourmand, who had satiated himself with
Confound themselves 7.
'Tis strange, that death
the King's body, and took his intellectual part by way of change of provision.
Neither can a complete acquiescence in the same gentleman's examples of adjectives used adverbially, be well expected; as they chiefly occur in light and familiar dialogue, or where the regular full-grown adverb was unfavourable to rhyme or metre. Nor indeed are these docked adverbs (which perform their office, like the witch's rat, “ without a tail,”) discoverable in any solemn narrative like that before us. A portion of them also might be no other than typographical imperfections ; for this part of speech, shorn of its termination, will necessarily take the form of an adjective.I may subjoin, that in the beginning of the present scene, the adjective corruptible is not offered as a locum tenens for the adverb corruptibly, though they were alike adapted to our author's mea
It must, notwithstanding, be allowed, that adjectives employed adverbially are sometimes met with in the language of Shakspeare. Yet, surely, we ought not (as Polonius says) to a crack the wind of the poor phrase,” by supposing its existence where it must operate equivocally, and provoke a smile, as on the present occasion.
That Death, therefore, “left the outward parts of the King invisible," could not, in my judgment, have been an expression hazarded by our poet in his most careless moment of composition. It conveys an idea too like the helmet of Orcus, in the fifth Iliad*, Gadshill's “receipt of fern-seed,” Colonel Feignwell's moros musphonon, or the consequences of being bit by a Seps, as was a Roman soldier, of whom says our excellent translator of Lucan,
none was left, no least remains were seen, No marks to show that once a man had been." + Besides, if the outward part (i. e. the body) of the expiring monarch was, in plain, familiar, and unqualified terms, pronounced to be invisible, how could those who pretended to have just seen it, expect to be believed ? and would not an audience, uninitiated in “the mystery of adverbial adjectives, on hearing such an account of the royal carcase, have exclaimed, like the Governor of Tilbury Fort, in The Critic :
thou canst not see it,
“ Because 'tis not in sight. But I ought not to dismiss the present subject, without a few words in defence of Mr. Gray, who had authority somewhat more
* Δύν' * Αίδος κυνέην, ΜΗ ΜΙΝ ΙΔΟΙ 3βριμος "Αρης.
I am the cygnet to this pale faint swan,
decisive than that of the persecuted second folio of Shakspeare, for representing Death as a Woman. The writer of the Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College, was sufficiently intimate with Lucretius, Horace, Ovid, Phædrus, Statius, Petronius, Seneca the dramatist, &c. to know that they all concurred in exhibiting Mors as a Goddess. Thus Lucan, lib. vi. 600 :
Elysias resera sedes, ipsamque vocatam,
Quos petat è nobis, Mortem tibi coge fateri. Mr. Spence, in his Polymetis, p. 261, (I refer to a book of easy access,) has produced abundant examples in proof of my assertion, and others may be readily supplied. One comprehensive instance, indeed, will answer my present purpose. Statius, in his eighth Thebaid, describing a troop of ghastly females who surrounded the throne of Pluto, has the following lines :
Stant Furiæ circum, variæque ex ordine Mortes,
Sævaque multisonas exercet Pæna catenas. From this group of personification, &c. it is evident, that not merely Death, as the source or principle of mortality, but each particular kind of death, was represented under a feminine shape. For want, therefore, of a corresponding masculine term, Dobson, in his Latin version of the second Paradise Lost, was obliged to render the terrific offspring of Satan, by the name of Hades; a luckless necessity, because Hades, in the 964th line of the same book, exhibits a character completely discriminated from that of Death.
For the satisfaction of English antiquaries, let me add, that in an ancient poem (which in point of versification resembles the pieces of Longland) there is a contest for superiority between our Lady Dame Life, and the ugly fiend Dame Death.
Milton himself, however, in his second Elegy, has exhibited Death not only as a female, but as a queen :
Magna sepulchrorum regina, satelles Averni,
Sæva nimis Musis, Palladi sæva nimis. See
Mr. Warton's note on this passage. Consult also Milton's third Elegy, v. 16:
Mors fera, Tartareo diva secunda Jovi. Again, In Obitum Præsulis Eliensis :
Mors atra noctis filia. Dryden, likewise, in his Indian Queen, Act II. Sc. I. has attributed the same sex to Death:
The gods can but destroy;
“ I'll court her now, since victory's grown coy." Were I inclined to be sportive, (a disposition which commenta
And, from the organ-pipe of frailty, sings
tors should studiously repress,) might I not maintain, on the strength of the foregoing circumstances, that the editor of the folio 1632, (far from being an ignorant blunderer,) was well instructed in the niceties of Roman mythology; and might not my ingenious fellow-labourer, on the score of his meditated triumph over Mr. Gray, be saluted with such a remark as reached the ear of Cadmus ?
Quid, Agenore nate, peremptum Serpentem spectas ? et tu spectabere serpens. Fashionable as it is to cavil at the productions of our Cambridge poet, it has not yet been discovered that throughout the fields of classick literature, even in a single instance, he had mistook his way.
Which, in their THRONG and PRESś to that last hold,
“ Much like a press of people at a door,
Throng his inventions, which shall go before."
which forc'd such way,
in, with this caution.” MALONE. in their throng and press to that last hold.” In their tumult and hurry of resorting to the last tenable part. Johnson.
8 I am the CYGNET-] Old copy-Symet. *Corrected by Mr. Pope. MALONE.
To set a form upon that indigest
Which he hath left so shapeless and so rude.] A description of the Chaos almost in the very words of Ovid : Quem dixere Chaos, rudis indigestaque moles. Met. i.
WHALLEY. “Which Chaos hight, a huge rude heap :“ No sunne as yet with lightsome beames the shapeless world
did view."' Golding's Translation, 1587. MALONE. VOL, XV.
YOU ARE BORN