Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

Seb.

What, art thou waking ?
Ant. Do you not hear me speak?
Seb.

I do; and, surely,
It is a sleepy language; and thou speak’st
Out of thy sleep: What is it thou didst say?
This is a strange repose, to be asleep,
With eyes wide open; standing, speaking, moving,
And yet so fast asleep.
Ant.

Noble Sebastian,
Thou let'st thy fortune sleep-die rather; wink'st
Whiles thou art waking.
Seb.

Thou dost snore distinctly; There's meaning in thy shorés.

Ant. I am more serious, than my custom: you
Must be so too, if heed me; which to do,
Trebles thee o'er. 1
Seb.

Well; I am standing water.
Ant. I'll teach you how to flow.
Seb.

Do so: to ebb,
Hereditary sloth instructs me.
Ant.

O,
If
you but knew, how you

the

purpose cherish, Whiles thus you mock it! how, in stripping it, You more invest it! Ebbing men, indeed,

i I am more serious than my custom: you

Must be so too, if heed me; which to do,

Trebles thee o'er.] This passage is represented to me as an obscure one. The meaning of it seems to be-You must put on more than your usual seriousness, if you are disposed to pay a proper attention to my proposal; which attention, if you be. stow, it will, in the end, make you thrice what you are. Sebastian is already brother to the throne; but, being made a king, by Antonio's contrivance, would be (according to our author's idea of greatness) thrice the man he was before. In this sense, he would be trebled'o’er. So, in Pericles, 1609:

the master calls, " And trebles the confusion." Again, in The Two Noble Kinsmen, 1634:

thirds his own worth.” Steevens. Again, in the Merchant of Venice:

Yet, for you,
“ I would be trebled twenty times myself.” Malone.
2 If you but knew, how you the purpose cherish,

Whiles thus you mock it! how, in stripping it,
You more invest it!] A judicious critic, in The Edinburgh

66

Most often do so near the bottom run,
By their own fear, or sloth.
Seb.

Pr’ythee, say on;
The setting of thine eye, and cheek, proclaim
A matter from thee; and a birth, indeed,
Which throes thee much to yield.
Ant.

Thus, sir: Although this lord of weak remembrance, 3 this (Who shall be of as little memory, When he is earth’d,) hath here almost persuaded (For he's a spirit of persuasion only,) The king, his son's alive; 'tis as impossible That he's undrown'd, as he, that sleeps here, swims.*

3

4

Magazine for Nov. 1786, offers the following illustration of this obscure passage:

“ Sebastian introduces the simile of water. It is taken up by Antonio, who says, he will teach his stagnant water to flow. . - It has already learned to ebb,' says Sebastian. To which Antonio replies, o, if you but knew how much, even that metaphor, which you use in jest, encourages to the design which I hint at; how, in stripping the words of their common meaning, and using them figuratively, you adapt them to your own situation.!

Steevens.

this lord of weak remembrance,] This lord, who, being now in his dotage, has outlived his faculty of remembering; and who, once laid in the ground, shall be as little remembered himself, as he can now remember other things. Fohnson.

hath here almost persuaded,
(For he's a spirit of persuasion, only
Professes to persuade) the king, his son's alive ;
'Tis as impossible that he's undrown'd,

As he, that sleeps here, swims.] Of this entangled sentence I can draw no sense from the present reading, and therefore imagine that the author gave it thus:

For he, a spirit of persuasion, only

Professes to persuade the king, his son's alive; Of which the meaning may be either, that he alone, who is a spirit of persuasion, professes to persuade the king; or that, He only professes to persuade, that is, without being so persuaded himself, he makes a show of persuading the king. Fohnson.

The meaning may be-He is a mere rhetorician, one who pro. fesses the art of persuasion, and nothing else; i. e. he professes to persuade another to believe that, of which he himself is not convinced; he is content to be plausible, and has no further aim. So, (as Mr. Malone observes,) in Troilus and Cressida:“ – why he'll answer nobody, he professes not answering.". Steevens.

The obscurity of this passage arises from a misconception of the word he's, which is not an abbreviation of he is, but of he

Seb. I have no hope That he's undrown'd.

has; and partly from the omission of the pronoun who, before the word professes, by a common poetical ellipsis. Supply that deficiency, and the sentence will run thus :

Although this lord of weak remembrance,

- hath here almost persuaded,
“ For he has a spirit of persuasion, who, only

Professes to persuade, the king his son's alive;" — And the meaning is clearly this.—This old lord, though a mere dotard, has almost persuaded the king, that his son is alive; for he is so willing to believe it, that any man who undertakes to persuade him of it, has the powers of persuasion, and succeeds in the attempt.

We find a similar expression in The First Part of Henry IV. When Poins undertakes to engage the Prince, to make one of the party to Gad's-hill, Falstaff says:

“Well! may’st thou have the spirit of persuasion, and he the ears of profiting! that what thou speakest may move, and what he hears may be believed!” M. Mason.

The light Mr. M. Mason's conjecture has thrown on this passage, think, enables me to discover, and remedy the defect in it. I cannot help regarding the words_professes to persuade-as a mere gloss or paraphrase on “ he has a spirit of persuasion." This explanatory sentence, being written in the margin of an actor's part, or playhouse copy, was, afterwards, injudiciously incorporated with our author's text. Read the passage (as it now stands in the text) without these words, and nothing is wanting to its sense or metre.

On the contrary, the insertion of the words I have excluded, by lengthening the parenthesis, obscures the meaning of the speaker, and, at the same time, produces redundancy of mea. sure. Irregularity of metre, ought always to excite suspicions of omission or interpolation. Where somewhat has been omitted, through chance or design, a line is occasionally formed by the junction of hemistichs, previously unfitted to each other. – Such a line will naturally exceed the established proportion of feet; and when marginal observations are crept into the text, they will have just such aukward effects, as I conceive to have been produced, by one of them, in the present instance.

“ Perhaps (says that excellent scholar and perspicacious cri. tic, Mr. Porson, in his 6th Letter to Archdeacon Travis ) you think it an affected and absurd idea, that a marginal note can ever creep into the text: yet, I hope you are not so ignorant as not to know that this has actually happened, not merely in hundreds or thousands, but in millions of places,” &c. &c.

s From this known propensity of transcribers to turn every thing into the text which they found written in the margin of their MSS. or between the lines, so many interpolations have

He's gone.

Ant.

O, out of that no hope, What great hope have you! no hope, that way, is, Another way, so high an hope, that even Ambition cannot pierce a wink beyond,5 But doubts discovery there. Will you grant, with me, That Ferdinand is drown'd?

Seb. Ant.

Then, tell me, Who's the next heir of Naples? Seb.

Claribel. Ant. She that is queen of Tunis; she that dwells Ten leagues beyond man's life;6 she that from Naples Can have no note, unless the sun were post, (The man i’ the moon's too slow,) till new-born chins Be rough and razorable: she, from whom 8

6

proceeded, that at present, the surest canon of criticism is, Praferatur lectio brevior.” P. 149, 150.

Though I once expressed a different opinion, I am now well convinced, that the metre of Shakspeare's

plays, had, originally, no other irregularity than was occasioned by an accidental use of hemistichs. When we find the smoothest series of lines among our earliest dramatic writers (who could fairly boast of no other requisites for poetry) are we to expect less polished versification from Shakspeare? Steevens.

5 - a wink beyond,] That this is the utmost extent of the prospect of ambition, the point where the eye can pass no farther, and where objects lose their distinctness, so that what is there discovered, is faint, obscure, and doubtful. Johnson.

beyond man's life ;] i. e. at a greater distance than the life of man is long enough to reach. Steevens.

she that from Naples Can have no note, &c.] Note (as Mr. Malone observes) is notice, or information.

Shakspeare's great ignorance of geography is not more conspi. cuous in any instance than in this, where he supposes Tunis and Naples to have been at such an immeasurable distance from each other. He may, however, be countenanced, by Apollonius Rhodius, who says, that both the Rhone and Po meet in one, and discharge themselves into the gulph of Venice; and by Æschylus, who has placed the river Eridanus in Spain. Steevens.

she, from whom -] i. e. in coming from whom. The old copy

has—she that from, &c. which cannot be right. The compositor's eye probably glanced on a preceding line, “ she that from Naples" The emendation was made by Mr. Rowe.

Malone.

7

8

We were all sea-swallow'd, though some cast again;9
And, by that, destin'di to perform an act,
Whereof what's past is prologue; what to come,
In yours and my discharge. 2
Seb.

What stuff is this?-How say you?
'Tis true, my brother's daughter's queen of Tunis;
So is she heir of Naples; 'twixt which regions
There is some space.
Ant.

A space, whose

every

cubit
Seems to cry out, How shall that Claribel
Measure us back to Naples ?-Keep in Tunis, 3
And let Sebastian wake !—Say, this were death,
That now hath seiz'd them; why, they were no worse
Than now they are: There be, that can rule Naples,
As well as he that sleeps; lords, that can prate
As amply, and unnecessarily,
As this Gonzalo; I myself could make
A chough* of as deep chat. O, that you bore
The mind that I do! what a sleep were this
For your advancement! Do you understand me?

Seb. Methinks, I do.
Ant.

And how does your content Tender your own good fortune?

-though some cast again;] Cast is here used in the same sense as in Macbeth, Act II. sc. iii : “ —though he took my legs from me, I made a shift to cast him.” Steevens.

1 And, by that, destin'd ] It is a common plea of wickedness to call temptation destiny. Fohnson.

The late Dr. Musgrave very reasonably proposed to substitute -destin'd for-destiny. As the construction of the passage is made easier by this slight change, I have adopted it. Steevens.

2 In yours and my discharge.] i. e. depends on what you and I are to perform. Steevens.

- keep in Tunis,] There is in this passage a propriety lost, which a slight alteration will restore:

Sleep in Tunis, And let Sebastian wake.!Johnson. The old reading is sufficiently explicable. Claribel (says he) keep where thou art, and allow Sebastian time to awaken those senses, by the help of which he may perceive the advantage which now presents itself. Steevens.

4 A chough — ] Is a bird of the jack-daw kind. So, in Macbeth, Act III. sc. iv:

“ By magot-pies, and choughs, and rooks,” &c. Steevens.

3

« AnteriorContinuar »