Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

He has much disgrac'd me in't; I am angry at

him,

That might have known my place: I see no sense

for't,

But his occasions might have woo'd me first;

66

Satisfy thy longing;

"The only way to make thee keep thy counsel,

66

Is, not to tell thee."

So, in King Henry IV. Part I.:

66

for secrecy

"No lady closer; for I well believe

"Thou wilt not utter what thou dost not know."

Again, in The White Devil :

"Terrify babes, my lord, with painted devils.”

So, in Macbeth:

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

the secret of my prince,

"Which I will wear i'th' inside of my

Copied, I think, from these lines of Hamlet:

66

Give me the man

heart."

"That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him
heart's
's core, ay, in my heart of heart.”

"In

my

The White Devil was not printed till 1612. Hamlet had appeared in 1604. See also another imitation quoted in a note on Cymbeline, Act IV. Sc. III.; and the last scene of the fourth Act of The Dutchess of Malfy, which seems to have been copied from our author's King John, Act IV. Sc. II.

The Dutchess of Malfy had certainly appeared before 1619, for Burbage, who died in that year, acted in it; I believe, before 1616, for I imagine it is the play alluded to in Ben Jonson's Prologue to Every Man in his Humour, printed in that

"To make a child new-swaddled to proceed

"Man," &c.

year:

So that probably the lines above cited from Webster's play by Mr. Steevens, were copied from Timon before it was in print; for it first appeared in the folio, 1623. Hence we may conclude, that thrive was not an error of the press, but our author's original word, which Webster imitated, not from the printed book, but from the representation of the play, or the MS. copy.

It is observable, that in this piece of Webster's, the duchess, who like Desdemona is strangled, revives after long seeming dead, speaks a few words, and then dies. MALONE.

For, in my conscience, I was the first man
That e'er receiv'd gift from him:

And does he think so backwardly of me now,
That I'll requite it last? No: So it may prove
An argument of laughter to the rest,

And I amongst the lords be thought a fool o.
I had rather than the worth of thrice the sum,

He had sent to me first, but for my mind's sake;
I had such a courage to do him good.
to do him good.

return,

9

But now

And with their faint reply this answer join; Who bates mine honour, shall not know my coin. [Exit.

SERV. Excellent1! Your lordship's a goodly villain. The devil knew not what he did, when he made man politick; he crossed himself by't: and I cannot think, but, in the end, the villainies of man will set him clear 2. How fairly this lord strives to

8 And I amongst the lords be thought a fool.] [Old copy"and 'mongst lords be thought a fool."] The personal pronoun was inserted by the editor of the second folio. MALONE.

I have changed the position of the personal pronoun, and added the for the sake of metre, which, in too many parts of this play, is incorrigible. STEEVENS.

9 I had such a courage-] Such an ardour, such an eager desire. JOHNSON.

Excellent, &c.] I suppose the former part of this speech to have been originally written in verse, as well as the latter ; though the players have printed it as prose (omitting several syllables necessary to the metre): it cannot now be restored without such additions as no editor is at liberty to insert in the text. STEEVENS.

I suspect no omission whatsoever here. MALOne. 2 The devil knew NOT what he did, when he made man politick he CROSSED himself by't: and I cannot think, but, in the end, the villainies of man will set him CLEAR.] I cannot but think, that the negative not has intruded into this passage, and the reader will think so too, when he reads Dr. Warburton's explanation of the next words. JOHNSON.

66

will set him clear." Set him clear does not mean acquit him before heaven; for then the devil must be supposed to know

appear foul? takes virtuous copies to be wicked like those that, under hot ardent zeal, would set whole realms on fire 3.

what he did; but it signifies puzzle him, outdo him at his own weapons. WARBURTON.

"Stand

How the devil, or any other being, should be set clear by being puzzled and outdone, the commentator has not explained. When in a croud we would have an opening made, we say, clear," that is, "out of the way of danger." With some affinity to this use, though not without great harshness, to set clear, may be to set aside. But I believe the original corruption is the insertion of the negative, which was obtruded by some transcriber, who supposed crossed to mean thwarted, when it meant, exempted from evil. The use of crossing by way of protection or purification, was probably not worn out in Shakspeare's time. The sense of set clear is now easy; he has no longer the guilt of tempting man. To cross himself" may mean, in a very familiar sense, "to clear his score, to get out of debt, to quit his reckoning." He knew not what he did, may mean, he knew not how much good he was doing himself. There is no need of emendation.

66

JOHNSON.

Clear

Perhaps Dr. Warburton's explanation is the true one. is an adverb, or so used; and Dr. Johnson's Dictionary observes, that to set means, in Addison, to embarrass, to distress, to perplex.-If then the devil made men politick, he has thwarted his own interest, because the superior cunning of man will at last puzzle him, or be above the reach of his temptations. TOLLET.

Johnson's explanation of this passage is nearly right; but I don't see how the insertion of the negative injures the sense, or why that should be considered as a corruption. Servilius means to say, that the devil did not foresee the advantage that would arise to himself from thence, when he made men politick. He redeemed himself by it; for men will, in the end, become so much more villainous than he is, that they will set him clear; he will appear innocent when compared to them. Johnson has rightly explained the words, "he crossed himself by it."-So, in Cymbeline, Posthumus says of himself

66

It is I

"That all the abhorred things o' the earth amend,

66

By being worse than they." M. MASON.

The meaning, I think, is this:- "The devil did not know what he was about, [how much his reputation for wickedness would be diminished] when he made men crafty and interested; he thwarted himself by it; [by thus raising up rivals to contend. with him in iniquity, and at length to surpass him ;] and I cannot but think that at last the enormities of mankind will rise to such

Of such a nature is his politick love.

This was my lord's best hope; now all are fled,
Save the gods only: Now his friends are dead,
Doors, that were ne'er acquainted with their
wards

Many a bounteous year, must be employ'd
Now to guard sure their master.

[ocr errors]

a height, as to make even Satan himself, in comparison, appear (what he would least of all wish to be) spotless and innocent.' Clear is in many other places used by our author and the contemporary writers, for innocent. So, in The Tempest:

66

nothing but heart's sorrow,

"And a clear life ensuing.”

Again, in Macheth:

[blocks in formation]

"Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
"So clear in his great office-."

Again, in the play before us:

"Roots, ye clear gods!"

Again, in Marlowe's Lust's Dominion, 1657 :

66

I know myself am clear

"As is the new-born infant." MALONE.

The devil's folly in making man politick, is to appear in this, that he will at the long run be too many for his old master, and get free of his bonds. The villainies of man are to set himself clear, not the devil, to whom he is supposed to be in thraldom.

RITSON.

Concerning this difficult passage, I claim no other merit than that of having left before the reader the notes of all the commentators. I myself am in the state of Dr. Warburton's devil,puzzled, instead of being set clear by them. STEEvens.

3 takes VIRTUOUS COPIES to be wicked; like those, &c.] This is a reflection on the Puritans of that time. These people were then set upon the project of new-modelling the ecclesiastical and civil government according to scripture rules and examples; which makes him say, that under zeal for the word of God, they would set whole realms on fire. So, Sempronius pretended to that warm affection and generous jealousy of friendship, that is affronted, if any other be applied to before it. At best the similitude is an aukward one; but it fitted the audience, though not the speaker. WARBURTON.

4 Save the gods only:] Old copy-" Save only the gods." The transposition is Sir Thomas Hanmer's." STEEVENS.

And this is all a liberal course allows;

Who cannot keep his wealth, must keep his house 5.

SCENE IV.

The same. A Hall in TIMON'S House.

[Exit.

Enter Two Servants of VARRO, and the Servant of Lucius, meeting TITUS, HORTENSIUS, and other Servants to TIMON's Creditors, waiting his coming out.

VAR. SERV. Well met; good-morrow, Titus and Hortensius.

TIT. The like to you, kind Varro.

[blocks in formation]

5-keep his house.] i. e. keep within doors for fear of duns.

JOHNSON.

So, in Measure for Measure, Act III. Sc. II.: "You will turn good husband now, Pompey; you will keep the house."

STEEVENS.

« AnteriorContinuar »