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A CT V. SC EN E I..
The same. An Apartment in the Palace of Theseus.
Enter THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, PHILOSTRATE, Lords,
Hip. 'Tis strange, my Theseus, that these lovers
speak of. The. More strange than true. I never may believe These antique fables, nor these fairy toys. Lovers, and madmen, have such seething brains,“ Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend More than cool reason ever comprehends. The lunatick, the lover, and the poet,' Are of imagination all compact:6 One sees more devils than vast hell can hold; That is, the madman : the lover, all as frantick,?
such seething brains, ] So, in The Tempest:
thy brains, " Now useless, boil'd within thy scull." STEEVENS. We meet with the same expression in The Winter's Tale: “ Would any but these boild brains of three and twenty hunt this weather ?"
MALONE. The lunatick, the lover, and the poet, ] An ingenious modern writer supposes that our author had here in contemplation Orestes, Mark Antony, and himself; but I do not recollc& any passage in his works that shows him to have been acquainted with the story of Agamemnon's son, — scelerum furiis agitatus Orestes: and indeed, if even such were found, the supposed allusion would still remain very problematical. MALONE.
6 Are of imagination all compa&t: ] i. c. made up of mere imagination. So, in As You Like It:
" If be, compa&t of jars, grow mufical." Steevens. ? That is, the madman : the lover, all as frantick, ] Such is the reading of all the old copies; instead of which, the modern editors have given us —
" The madman : while the lover," &c. STEEVENS.
Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt ::
Hip. But all the story of the night told over,
Enter LYSANDER, DEMETRIUS, HERMIA, and
mirth. Joy, gentle friends! joy, and fresh days of love Accompany your hearts !
8 Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt:) By " a brow of Egypt" Shakspeare means no more than the brow of a gipsy. So . much for some ingenious modern's ideal Cleopatra. See note 5.
STEEVENS. in a fine frenzy rolling, ] This seems to have been imitated by Drayton in his Epistle to J. Reynolds on Poets and Poetry: describing Marlowe, hc says :
that fine madness still he did retain,
MALONE. conftancy; ] Confiftency, ftability, certainty. JOHNSON.
More than to us Wait on' your royal walks, your board, your bed! The. Come now; what masks, what dances shall
Here, mighty Theseus.
evening ? What malk? what musick? How shall we beguile
Ź Wait on 1 The old copies have -- wait in. Corre&cd by Mr. Rowe. MALONE.
3 Cail Philofirate. ] In the folio, 1623, it is, Call Egeus, and all the speeches afterwards spoken by Philosrate, except that beginning “No, my noble lord, &c. are there given to that chara&er. But the modern editions, from the quartos 1600, have sightly given them to Philoftrate, who appears in the first scene as master of the revels to. Theseus, and is there sent out on a similar kind of errand.
In The Knight's Tale of Chaucer, Arcite, under the name of Philofirate, is squire of the chamber to Theseus. STEEVENS.
4 Say, what abridgment, &c.] By abridgment our author may mean a dramatick performances, which crowds the events of years into a few hours. So, in Hamlet, A& II. sc. vii. he calls the players " abridgments, abftracts, and brief chronicles of the time." Again, in K. Henry V:
" Then brook abridgment; and your eyes advance
". After your thoughts It may be worth while, however, to observe, that in the North the word abatement had the fame meaning as diversion or amusement. So, in the Prologue to the 5th Book of G. Douglas's version of the Æneid:
Ful mony mery abaitmentis followis here." STEEVENS. Does not abridgement io the present instance, fignify amusement to beguile the tedioufness of the ivening! or, in one word, paftime?
The lazy time, if not with some delight?
Philost. There is a brief,' how many sports are
ripe ; 6
Make choice of which your highress will see first.
[ Giving a paper. THE. reads." ] The battle with the Centaurs, to be fung
By an Athenian eunuch to the harp.
The riot of the tipsy Bacchanals,
Tearing the Thracian singer in their rage.
The thrice three Muses mourning for the death
a brief, ) i. e, a short account or enumeration. So, in Gascoigne's Dulce Bellum Inexpertis :
" She sent a brief unto me by her mayd." Again, in King John:
the hand of time " Shall draw this brief into as huge a volume. STEEVENS.
- are ripe; ] One of the quartos has — ripe, the other old editions – rife. JOHNSON.
Ripe is the reading of Fisher's quarto Rife, however, is a word used both by Sidney and Spenser. It means abounding, but is now almost obsolete. Again, int Stephen Gosson's School of Abuse, 1579: you shall find the theaters of the one, and the abuses of the other, to be rife among us.
STELVENS. ? The. reads. ] This is printed as Mr. Theobald gave it from both the old quartos. In the first folio, and all the following edi. tions, Lysander reads the catalogue, and Theseus makes the remarks. JOHNSON.
8 By an Athenian eunuch to ihe harp. ] This seems to imply a more ancient pra&ice of caitration for the voice, than can be found in opera annals. BURNEY.
9 The thrice three Muses mourning for the death
Of learning, &c. ) I do not know whether it has been before observed, that Shakspeare here, perhaps, alluded to Spenser's poem, entitled The Tears of the Muses, on the negle&t and contempt.
That is some satire, keen, and critical,"
A tedious brief scene of young Pyranius,
And his love Thisbe; very tragical mirth.
of learning. This piece first appeared in quarto, with others 15gi. The oldest edition of this play now known is dated 1600. If Spenser's poem be here intended, may we not presume that there is fome earlier edition of this? But however, if tlic allusion be al. lowed, at least it fcems to bring the play below 1591.
T. WARTON: keen, and critical,] Critical here means criticising, censuring. So, in Othello :
« 0, I am nothing if not critical." STEEVENS. 3 Merry and tragical?] Our poet is ftill harping on Camlyfes, of which the first editioni might have appeared in 1569-70; when “ an Enterlude, a lamentable Tragedy full of pleasant myrth" was licensed to John Alde. Regist. Stat. fol. 184. b. STEEVENS.
4 That is, hotice, and wonderous strange snow. ] The nonsense of this line should be corrected thus : ". That is, hot ice, a wonderous strange Mow."
WARBURTON. Mr. Upton reads, not improbably :
lo And wonderous strange black snow." Johnson. Sir Thomas Hanmer reads -- wondrous scorching snow, Mr. Pope omits the line entirely. I think the paslage needs no change, on account of the versification ; for wonderous is as often used as three, as it is as two fyllables. The meaning of the line is
hot ice, and snow of as strange a quality. There is, however, an ancient pamphlet entitled, 6 Tarlton's Devise upon this unlooked for grete snowe.” And perhaps the passage before us may contain some allusion to it. This works is entered on the books of the Stationers' Company; as also, " A ballet of a Northerne Man's Report of the wonderfül greate snowe: in the Southerne parts,
&c. STELVENS. As there is no antithesis between strange and snow, as there is between hot and ice, I believe we should read - " and wonderous strong snow." M. MASON.