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How shall we find the concord of this discord ?
Philos. A play there is, my lord, some ten words long;
The. What are they, that do play it?
Philos. Hard-handed men, that work in Athens here,
The. And we will hear it.
No, my noble lord,
Sir Thomas Hanmer reads-wondrous scorching snow. Mr. Pope omits the line entirely. I think the passage needs no change, on account of the versification; for wonderous is as often used as three, as it is as two syllables. The meaning of the line is
hot ice, and snow of as strange a quality." There is, however, an ancient pamphlet entitled, “ Tarlton's Devise upon this unlooked for grete Snowe.” And perhaps the passage before us may contain some allusion to it. This work is entered on the books of the Stationers' Company; as also, “ A ballet of a Northerne Man's Report of the wonderful great Snowe in the Southerne parts,” &c. Steevens.
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.
In support of Mr. Mason's conjecture it may be observed that the words strong and strange are often confounded in our old plays.
Mr. Upton's emendation also may derive some support from a passage in Macbeth:
when they shall be opened, black Macbeth “ Shall seem as pure as snow.” Malone.
- unbreath'd memories - ] That is, unexercised, unpractised memories. Steevens. 4 Unless
you can find sport in their intents,] Thus all the copies. But as I know not what it is to stretch and con an intent, I suspect a line to be lost. Fohnson.
Extremely stretch'd, and conn'd with cruel pain,
I will hear that play:
[Exit Philos. Hip. I love not to see wretchedness o'ercharg'd, And duty in his service perishing.
The. Why, gentle sweet, you shall see no such thing. Hip. He says, they can do nothing in this kind.
The. The kinder we to give them thanks for nothing. Our sport shall be,6 to take what they mistake: And what poor duty cannot do,? Noble respect takes it in might, not merit. 8
To intend and to attend were anciently synonymous. Of this use several instances are given in a note on the third scene of the first Act of Othello. Intents, therefore, may be put for the object of their attention. We still say, a person is intent op his business.
Steevens. never any thing can be amiss, When simpleness and duty tender it.] Ben Jonson, in Cynthia's Revels has employed this sentiment of humanity on the same occasion, when Cynthia is preparing to see a masque:
“Nothing which duty and desire to please
“Bears written on the forehead, comes amiss.” Steevens. o Our sport shall be, &c.] Voltaire says something like this of Louis XIV, who took a pleasure in seeing his courtiers in confu. sion when they spoke to him.
I am told, however, by a writer in the Edinburgh Magazine, for Nov. 1786, that I have assigned a malignant, instead of a humane, sentiment to Theseus, and that he really means-We will accept with pleasure even their blundering attempt. Steevens.
7 And what poor duty cannot do,] The defective metre of this line shows that some word was inadvertently omitted by the tran. scriber or compositor. Mr. Theobald supplied the defect by reading, “ And what poor willing duty,” &c. Malone. 8 And what poor duty cannot do,
Noble respect takes it in might, not merit.] The sense of this passage, as it now stands, if it has any sense, is this: What the inability of duty cannot perform, regardful generosity receives as an act of ability, though not of merit. The contrary is rather true: IV hat dutifulness tries to perform without ability, regardful generoity receives as having the merit, though not the power, of complete rformance. We should therefore read:
Where I have come, great clerks have purposedo
And what poor duty cannot do,
Noble respect takes not in might, but merit. Johnson. In might, is, perhaps, an elliptical expression for what might have been. Steevens.
If this passage is to stand as it is, the meaning appears to be this:-" and what poor duty would do, but cannot accomplish, noble respect considers as it might have been, not as it is."
M. Mason. And what dutifulness tries to perform without ability, regardful generosity receives with complacency, estimating it not by the actual merit of the performance, but by what it might have been, were the abilities of the performers equal to their zeal.Such, I think, is the true interpretation of this passage; for which the reader is indebted partly to Dr. Johnson, and partly to Mr. Steevens. Malone.
. Where I have come, great clerks have purposed, &c.] So, in Pericles :
“ She sings like one immortal, and she dances
“ Deep clerks she dumbs.” It should be observed, that periods, in the text, is used in the sense of full points. Malone.
addrest.] That is, ready. So in King Henry V:
“ To-morrow for our march we are addrest." Steevens. 2 Flourish of Trumpets.] It appears, from The Guls Hornbook, by Decker, 1609, that the prologue was anciently ushered in by trumpets. “ Present not yourselfe on the stage (especially at a new play) until the quaking prologue hath (by rubbing) got cul. lor in his cheekes, and is ready to give the trumpets their cue that hee's upon point to enter." Steevens.
That you should think, we come not to offend,
That is the true beginning of our end. Consider then, we come but in despite.
We do not come as minding to content you,
We are not here. That you should here repent you,
The. This fellow doth not stand upon points.
Lys. He hath rid his prologue, like a rough colt; he knows not the stop. A good moral, my lord: It is not enough to speak, but to speak true.
Hip. Indeed he hath played on this prologue, like a child on a recorder;3 a sound, but not in government.“
The. His speech was like a tangled chain; nothing impaired, but all disordered. Who is next? Enter PYRAMUS and THISBE, Wall, Moonshine, and
Lion, as in dumb show.5 Prol. “ Gentles, perchance, you wonder at this show;
“ But wonder on, till truth make all things plain. “ This man is Pyramus, if you would know;
“ This beauteous lady Thisby is, certain.6
on a recorder;] Lord Bacon, in his Natural History, cent. üi, sect. 221, speaks of recorders and flutes at the same instant, and says that the recorder hath a less bore, and a greater, above and below; and elsewhere, cent. ii, sect. 187, he speaks of it as having six holes, in which respect it answers to the Tibia minor, or Flajolet, of Mersennus. From all which particulars it should seem that the flute and the recorder were different instruments, and that the latter, in propriety of speech, was no other than the flagelet. Hawkins's History of Musick, Vol. IV, p. 479. Reed.
Shakspeare introduces the same instrument in Hamlet; and Milton says: “ To the sound of soft recorders.” The recorder is mentioned in many of the old plays. Steevens.
- but not in gover nment.] That is, not regularly, according to the tune. Steevens.
Hamlet, speaking of a recorder, says:—“ Govern these ventages with your fingers and thumb; give it breath with your mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent music.” – This explains the meaning of government in this passage. M. Mason.
5 In this place the folio, 1623, exhibits the following prompter's direction: Tawyer with a trumpet before them. Steevens.
“ This man, with lime and rough-cast, doth present
« Wall, that vile wall which did these lovers sunder: “ And through wall's chink, poor souls, they are content
“To whisper; at the which let no man wonder. “ This man, with lantern, dog, and bush of thorn,
« Presenteth moon-shine: for, if you will know, “ By moon-shine did these lovers think no scorn
“ To meet at Ninus' tomb,' there, there to woo. “This grisly beast, which by name lion hight, 8 “The trusty Thisby, coming first by night, “ Did scare away, or rather did affright:
6 This beauteous lady Thisby is, certain.) A burlesque was here intended on the frequent recurrence of s certain” as a bungling rhyme in poetry more ancient than the age of Shakspeare. Thus, in a short poem entitled “ A lytell Treatise called the
ysputacyon or the Complaynte of the Herte through perced with the Lokynge of the Eye. Imprynted at Lõdon in Fletestrete at the Sygne of the Sonne by Wynkyn de Worde :"
“ And houndes syxescore and mo certayne -
“ Towardes Venus when they sholde go certayne," &c. Again, in the ancient MS. romance of the Sowdon of Babyloyne:
“ He saide the xii peres bene alle dede,
« Ye shall see them no more certeyn." Again, ibid:
56 The kinge turned him ageyn,
“ Towarde Mountribble certeyne,” &c. Steevens. 7 To meet at Ninus' tomb, &c.] So, in Chaucer's Legend of Thisbe of Babylon :
“ Thei settin markes ther metingis should be,
“ There king Ninus was graven undir a tre." Again:
“ And as she ran her wimple she let fall,” &c. Again, Golding in his version of Ovid's Metamorphoses, B. IV, has a similar line: “ And as she fled away for haste, she let her mantle fall."
Steevens. 8 which by name lion hight,] As all the other parts of this speech are in alternate rhyme, excepting that it closes with a