Imagens das páginas

(If hell and treason hold their promises,)
Ère he take ship for France, and in Southampton.
Linger your patience on; and well digest 2
The abuse of distance, while we force a play 3.
The sum is paid; the traitors are agreed;
The king is set from London; and the scene
Is now transported, gentles, to Southampton :
There is the playhouse now, there must you sit :

Again, in the 24th book [no date]:

"Idæus, guider of the mules, discern'd this grace of men." STEEVENS.

[ocr errors]


-WELL digest-] The folio, in which only these choruses are found, reads, and perhaps rightly-" we'll digest."


This emendation was made by Mr. Pope; and the wordswhile which are not in the old copy, were supplied by him.



MALONE. while we FORCE A PLAY.] The two first words were added (as it should seem) very properly. To force a play, is to produce a play by compelling many circumstances into a narrow compass.


↑ And by their hands this grace of kings must die,
(If hell and treason hold their promises,)
Ere he take ship for France, and in Southampton.
Linger your patience on; and well digest
The abuse of distance, while we force a play.
The sum is paid; the traitors are agreed;
The king is set from London; and the scene
Is now transported, gentles, to Southampton:

There is the playhouse now,] I suppose every one that reads these lines looks about for a meaning which he cannot find. There is no connection of sense nor regularity of transition from one thought to the other. It may be suspected that some lines are lost, and in that case the sense is irretrievable. I rather think, the meaning is obscured by an accidental transposition, which I would reform thus:

"And by their hands this grace of kings must die,
"If hell and treason hold their promises.
"The sum is paid, the traitors are agreed,
"The king is set from London, and the scene
"Is now transported, gentles, to Southampton,
"Ere he take ship for France. And in Southampton
"Linger your patience on, and well digest
"The abuse of distance, while we force a play.
"There is the playhouse now-.”


And thence to France shall we convey you safe,
And bring you back, charming the narrow seas
To give you gentle pass; for, if we may,
We'll not offend one stomach with our play.
But, till the king come forth, and not till then,
Unto Southampton do we shift our scene.



This alteration restores sense, and probably the true sense. The lines might be otherwise ranged, but this order pleases me best. JOHNSON.


An unnecessary transposition of these most plain and intelligible lines has been offered by Dr. Johnson, on his supposition that every one who reads them looks about for a meaning which he cannot find." In confirmation of their original arrangement, we learn from Stowe and Holinshed, the historians whom Shakspeare followed, and Dr. Johnson perhaps never thought worth consulting, that the plot against the king was laid by the conspirators at Southampton; a circumstance that is weakened, if not altogether cancelled, by the proposed arrangement. See a speech by King Henry in the ensuing act. DOUCE.



- charming the narrow seas-] Though Ben Jonson, as we are told, was indebted to the kindness of Shakspeare for the introduction of his first piece, Every Man in his Humour, on the stage, and though our author performed a part in it, Jonson, in the prologue to that play, as in many other places, endeavoured to ridicule and depreciate him :

"He rather prays, you will be pleas'd to see
"One such to-day, as other plays should be;

"Where neither chorus wafts you o'er the seas," &c. When this prologue was written is unknown. The envious author of it, however, did not publish it till 1616, the year of Shakspeare's death. MALONE.

Mr. Gifford has satisfactorily refuted this charge against Jonson. BOSWELL.

6 We'll not offend one stomach-] That is, you shall pass the sea without the qualms of sea-sickness. JOHNSON.

7 But, TILL the king COME forth,] Here seems to be something omitted. Sir T. Hanmer reads:

"But when the king comes forth—,”

which, as the passage now stands, is necessary. These lines, obscure as they are, refute Mr. Pope's conjectures on the true place of the Chorus; for they show that something is to intervene before the scene changes to Southampton. JOHNSON. The Canons of Criticism read:


and but till then.

And Mr. Heath approves the correction. STEEVENS.

[ocr errors]

The Same. Eastcheap.

Enter Nyм and Bardolph.



BARD. Well met, corporal Nym.

NYM. Good morrow, lieutenant Bardolph R. BARD. What, are ancient Pistol and you friends yet?

Mr. Roderick would read:

[ocr errors][merged small]

that is,"till the king appears next, you are to suppose the scene shifted to Southampton, and no longer; for as soon as he comes forth, it will shift to France." But this does not agree with the fact; for a scene in London intervenes.

In The Merchant of Venice, 1600, printed by J. Roberts, but is printed for not :

"Repent but you that you shall lose your friend." and the two words, in many other places, are confounded. See p. 278, n. 4. I suspect but is printed for not in the beginning of the line, and that not has taken the place of but afterwards. If we read:

"Not till the king come forth, and but till then-,” the meaning will be: "We will not shift our scene unto Southampton, till the king makes his appearance on the stage, and the scene will be at Southampton only for the short time while he does appear on the stage; for soon after his appearance, it will change to France." MALONE.

8 lieutenant Bardolph.] At this scene begins the connection of this play with the latter part of King Henry IV. The characters would be indistinct, and the incidents unintelligible, without the knowledge of what passed in the two foregoing plays. JOHNSON,

The author of Remarks on the last edition of Shakspeare [1778] wishes to know, where Bardolph acquired this commission, (as he is no more than Falstaff's corporal in King Henry IV.) and calls on Mr. Steevens for information on this subject. If Shakspeare were now alive, he would perhaps find it as difficult to give the desired information as Mr. Steevens. The intelligent reader must long since have observed that our author not only neglected to compare his plays with each other, but that, even in the same play, "the latter end of his commonwealth sometimes forgets the beginning." MALONE,

NYM. For my part, I care not: I say little; but when time shall serve, there shall be smiles' ;-but that shall be as it may. I dare not fight; but I will wink, and hold out mine iron: It is a simple one; but what though? it will toast cheese; and it will endure cold as another man's sword will: and there's the humour of it'.

BARD. I will bestow a breakfast, to make you friends; and we'll be all three sworn brothers to France; let it be so, good corporal Nym.


there shall be SMILES;] I suspect smiles to be a marginal direction crept into the text. It is natural for a man, when he threatens, to break off abruptly, and conclude, But that shall be as it may.' But this fantastical fellow is made to smile disdainfully while he threatens; which circumstance was marked for the player's direction in the margin. WARBURton.

I do not remember to have met with these marginal directions for expression of countenance in any of our ancient manuscript plays: neither do I see occasion for Dr. Warburton's emendation, as it is vain to seek the precise meaning of every whimsical phrase employed by this eccentric character. Nym, however, having expressed his indifference about the continuation of Pistol's friendship, might have added, when time serves, there shall be smiles,' i. e. he should be merry, even though he was to lose it; or, that his face would be ready with a smile as often as occasion should call one out into service, though Pistol, who had excited so many, was no longer near him. Dr. Farmer, however, with great probability, would read,-smites, i. e. blows, a word used in the midland counties. STEEVENS.

Perhaps Nym means only to say, I care not whether we are friends at present; however, when time shall serve, we shall be in good humour with each other: but be it as it may. MALONE.

Perhaps Nym, who is ludicrously stating the degree of courage which he possesses, does not refer in these words to the question which was asked, but talks in the style of Brutus and Cassius: "Bru. If we do meet again, why we shall smile," &c. "Cas. If we do meet again, we'll smile indeed."



the humour of it.] Thus the quarto. The folio read$," and there's an end. STEEVENS.

[ocr errors]

2 - and we'll BE all three sworn brothers To France:] We should read," we'll all go sworn brothers to France, or, we'll all be sworn brothers in France." JOHNSON.

NYM. 'Faith, I will live so long as I may, that's the certain of it; and when I cannot live any longer, I will do as I may3: that is my rest, that is the rendezvous of it.

BARD. It is certain, corporal, that he is married to Nell Quickly: and, certainly, she did you wrong; for you were troth-plight to her.

NYM. I cannot tell; things must be as they may: men may sleep, and they may have their throats about them at that time; and, some say, knives have edges. It must be as it may: though patience be a tired mare3, yet she will plod. There must be conclusions. Well, I cannot tell.

Enter PISTOL and Mrs. QUICKLY.

BARD. Here comes ancient Pistol, and his wife:good corporal, be patient here.-How now, mine host Pistol?

PIST. Base tike ", call'st thou me-host?

The humour of sworn brothers should be opened a little. In the time of adventure, it was usual for two chiefs to bind themselves to share in each other's fortune, and divide their acquisitions between them. So, in the Conqueror's expedition, Robert de Oily, and Roger de Ivery, were fratres jurati; and Robert gave one of the honours he received to his sworn brother Roger. So these three scoundrels set out for France, as if they were going to make a conquest of the kingdom. WHALLEY.

3 - and when I cannot live any longer, I will Do as I may :] Surely we ought to read, "I will die as I may." M. MASON. that is my REST,] i. e. what I am resolved on. For a particular account of this phrase, see notes on Romeo and Juliet, vol. vi. p. 203, n. 6, and p. 242, n. I. STEEVENS.


5 - patience be a tired MARE,] The folio reads, by corruption, tired name, from which Sir T. Hanmer, sagaciously enough, derived tired dame. Mr. Theobald retrieved from the quarto, tired mare, the true reading. JOHNSON.

So, in Pierce's Supererogation, or a New Praise of the Old Asse, &c.: "Silence is a slave in a chaine, and patience the common packhorse of the world." STEEVENS.

6 Base TIKE,] Tijk is the Runick word for a little, or worthless dog. So, in King Lear:

« AnteriorContinuar »