Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

SOME of the incidents in this play may be supposed to have been taken from The Arcadia, book 1. chap. 6, where Pyrocles consents to head the Helots. The love-adventure of Julia resembles that of Viola, in Twelfth Night, and is indeed common to many of the ancient novels.

STFEVENS. It is observable (I know not for what cause) that the style of this comedy is less figurative, and more natural and unafiected, than the greater part of this author's, though supposed to be one of the first he wrote.

Pore. In this play there is a strange mixture of knowledge and ignorance, of care and negligence. The versification is often excellent, the allusions are learned and just ; but the author conveys his heroes by sea from one inland town to another in the same country; he places the emperor at Milan, and sends his young men to attend him, but never mentions him more ; he makes Proteus, after an interview with Silvia, say he has only seen her picture ; and, if we may credit the old copies, he has, by mistaking places, left his scenery inextricable. The reason of all this confusion seems to be, that he took his story from a novel, which he sometimes followed, and sometimes forsook, sometimes remembered, and sometimes forgot.

That this play is rightly attributed to Shakspeare, I have little doubt. If it be taken from him, to whom shall it be given ? This question may be asked of all the disputed plays, except Titus Andronicus ; and it will be found more credible, that Shakspeare might sometimes sink below his highest flights, than that any other should rise up to his lowest. JOHNSON

Johnson's general remarks on this play are just, except that part in which he arraigns the conduct of the poet, for making Proteus say, that he had only seen the picture of Silvia, when it appears that he had had a personal interview with her. This, however, is not a blunder of Shakspeare's, but a mistake of Johnson's, who considers the passage alluded to in a more lite. ral sense than the author intended it. Sir Proteus, it is true, had seen Silvia for a few moments; but though he could form from thence some idea of her person, he was stillunacquainted with her temper, manners, and the qualities of her mind. He therefore considers himself as having seen her picture only.-The thought is just, and elegantly expressed.—So, in The Scornful Lady, the elder Loveless says to her :

« I was mad once when I loved pictures ;
“ For what are shape and colours else, but pictures 29

M. MASON.

[blocks in formation]

PERSONS REPRESENTED.

DUKE OF MILAN, father to Silvia.
VALENTINE, } gentlemen of Verona.
PROTEUS,*
ANTONIO, father to Proteus.
THURIO, a foolish rival to Valentine.
EGLAMOUR, agent for Silvia in hér eseape.
SPEED, a clownish servant to Valentine.
LAUNCE, servant to Proteus.
PANTHINO, servant to Antonio.
Host, where Julia lodges in Milan.
Out-laws.

Proteus. SILVIA, the Duke's daughter, beloved by Valentine. LUCETTA, waiting-woman to Julia.

Servants, Musicians.

SCENE, sometimes in Verona ; sometimes in Milan ;

and on the frontiers of Mantua.

* The old copy has-Protheus ; but this is merely the antiquated mode of spelling Proteus. Shakspeare's character was so called, from his disposition to change.

STEEV.

ACT I.

SCENE I.- An open Place in Verona.

ENTINE and PROTEUS.

Enter VAL

[ocr errors]

Valentine.
CEASE

EASE to persuade, my loving Proteus ;
Home-keeping youth have ever homely wits :
Wer't not, affection chains thy tender days
To the sweet glances of thy honour'd love,
I rather would entreat thy company,
To see the wonders of the world abroad,
Than living dully sluggardiz'd at home,
Wear out thy youth with shapeless idleness.
But, since thou lov'st, love still, and thrive therein,
Even as I would, when I to love begin.

Pro. Wilt thou be gone ? Sweet Valentine, adieu !
Think on thy Proteus, when thou, haply, seest
Some rare note-worthy object in thy travel :
Wish me partaker in thy happiness,
When thou dost meet good hap; and, in thy danger,
If ever danger do environ thee,
Commend thy grievance to my holy prayers,
For I will be thy bead's-man, Valentine.
Val. And on a love-book

pray

for

my success. Pro. Upon some book I love, I'll pray for thee.

Val. That's on some shallow story of deep love, How young Leander cross'd the Hellespont.

Pro. That's a deep story of a deeper love, For he was more than over shoes in love.

Val. 'Tis true ; for you are over boots in love ; And yet you never swom the Hellespont.

Pro. Over the boots ? nay, give me not the boots. 1

[1] The boot was an instrument of torture used only in Scotland. Bishop Barnet in The History of his own Times, mentions one Maccael, a preacher, who, being suspected of treasonable practices, underwent the punishment so late as 1666 : 'i -He was put to the torture, which, in Scotland, they call

Val. No, I'll not, for it boots thee not.
Pro. What?

Val. To be
In love, where scorn is bought with groans; coy looks,
With heart-sore sighs ; one fading moment's mirth,
With twenty watchful, weary, tedious nights :
If haply won, perhaps, a hapless gain ;
If lost, why then a grievous labour won ;
However, but a folly bought with wit,
Or else a wit by folly vanquished.

Pro. So, by your circumstance, you call me fool.
Val. So, by your circumstance, I fear, you'll prove.
Pro. "Tis love you cavil at ; I am not Love.

Val. Love is your master, for he masters you :
And he that is so yoked by a fool,
Methinks should not be chronicled for wise.

Pro. Yet writers say, As in the sweetest bud
The eating canker dwells, so eating love
Inhabits in the finest wits of all.

Val. And writers say, As the most forward bud
Is eaten by the canker ere it blow,
Even so by love the young and tender wit
Is turn’d to folly ; blasting in the bud,
Losing his verdure even in the prime,
And all the fair effects of future hopes.
But wherefore waste I time to counsel thee,
That art a votary to fond desire ?
Once more adieu : my father at the road
Expects my coming, there to see me shipp'd.

Pro. And thither will I bring thee, Valentine.

Val. Sweet Proteus, no ; now let us take our leave.
At Milan, let me hear from thee by letters,
Of thy success in love, and what news else
Betideth here in absence of thy friend ;
And I likewise will visit thee with mine.

Pro. All happiness bechance to thee in Milan !
Val. As much to you at home ! and so, farewell.

[Exit. Pro. He after honour hunts, I after love : He leaves his friends, to dignify them more ; I leave myself, my friends, and all for love. the hoots; for they put a pair of iron boots close on the leg, and drive wedges between these and the leg. The common torture was only to drive these in the calf of the leg; but I have been told they were sometimes driven upon the shin bone." REED.

Thou, Julia, thou hast metamorphos'd me ;
Made me neglect my studies, lose my time,
War with good counsel, set the world at nought ;
Made wit with musing weak, heart sick with thought.

Enter SPEED.1
Speed. Sir Porteus, save you : Saw you my master ?
Pro. But now he parted hence, to embark for Milan.

Speed. Twenty to one then, he is shipp'd already ; And I have play'd the sheep, in losing him.

Pro. Indeed a sheep doth very often stray, An if the shepherd be a while away.

Speed. You conclude that my master is a shepherd then, and I a sheep?

Pro. I do.

Speed. Why then my horns are his horns, whether I wake or sleep.

Pro. A silly answer, and fitting well a sheep.
Speed. This proves me still a sheep.
Pro. True ; and thy master a shepherd.
Speed. Nay, that I can deny by a circumstance.
Pro. It shall go hard, but I'll prove it by another.

Speed. The shepherd seeks the sheep, and not the sheep the shepherd; but I seek my master, and my master seeks not me : therefore, I am no sheep.

Pro. The sheep for fodder follows the shepherd, the shepherd for food follows not the sheep; thou for wages followest thy master, thy master for wages follows not thee : therefore, thou art a sheep.

Speed. Such another proof will make me cry baa. Pro. But dost thou hear? gav`st thou my letter to Julia?

Speed. Ay, sir : I, a lost mutton, gave your letter to her, a lac'd mutton ; and she, a lac'd mutton, 2 gave me, a lost mutton, nothing for my labour.

'Pro. Here's too small a.pasture for such a store of muttons.

[!] This whole scene, like many others in these plays (some of which, I believe, were written by Shakspeare, and others interpolated by the players) is composed of the lowest and most trifling conceits, to be accounted for only from the gross taste of the age he lived in; Populo ut placerent. I wish I had authority to leave them out ; but I have done all I could, set a mark of rep. robation upon them throughout this edition. POPE.

That this, like many other scenes, is mean and yulgar, will be universally allowed ; but that it was interpolated by the players seems advanced with. out any proof, only to give a greater licence to criticism. JOHNSON.

[2] A laced mutton was in our author's time so established a term for a courtezan, that a street in Clerkenwell, which was much frequented by women of the town, was then called Mutton-lane. MALONE.

15 VOL. 1.

« AnteriorContinuar »