Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

And all the men and women merely players :
They have their exits, and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,

[ocr errors]

In The Legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, 1597, we find these lines :

“ Unhappy man
66 Whose life a sad continual tragedie,
“ Himself the actor, in the world, the stage,

While as the acts are measur'd by his age.” MALONE. His acts being seven ages.) Dr. Warburton observes, that this was 16 no unusual division of a play before our author's time;" but forbears to offer any one example in support of his assertion. I have carefully perused almost every dramatick piece antecedent to Shakspeare, or contemporary with him; but so far from being divided into acts, they are almost all printed in an unbroken continuity of scenes. I should add, that there is one play of six acts to be met with, and another of twentyone; but the second of these is a translation from the Spanish, and never could have been designed for the stage. In God's Promises, 1577, “ A Tragedie or Enterlude,” (or rather a Mystery,) by John Bale, seven acts may indeed be found.

It should, however, be observed, that the intervals in the Greek Tragedy are known to have varied from three acts to seven. STEEVENS.

Dr. Warburton boldly asserts that this was “no unusual division of a play before our author's time.” One of Chapman's plays (Two wise Men and all the rest Fools) is indeed in seven acts. This, however, is the only dramatick piece that I have found so divided. But surely it is not necessary to suppose that our author alluded here to any such precise division of the drama. His comparisons seldom run on four feet. It was sufficient for him that a play was distributed into several acts, and that human life, long before his time, had been divided into seven periods. In The Treasury of ancient and modern Times, 1613, Proclus, a Greek author, is said to have divided the lifetime of man into SEVEN AGES; over each of which one of the seven planets was supposed to rule. “ The FIRST Age is called Infancy, containing the space of foure yeares. The SECOND AGE continueth ten years, untill he attaine to the yeares of fourteene: this age is called Childhood. The THIRD AGE consisteth of eight yeares, being named by our auncients Adolescencie or

Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms;
And then,'the whining school-boy, with his satchel,
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school: And then, the lover;
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eye-brow: Then, a soldier ;

Youthhood; and it lasteth from fourteene, till two and twenty yeares be fully compleate.- The FOURTH AGE paceth on, till a man have accomplished two and fortie yeares, and is tearmed Young Manhood.-The Fifth AGE, named Mature Manhood, hath (according to the said authour) fifteene yeares of continuance, and therefore makes his progress so far as six and fifty yeares.—Afterwards, in adding twelve to fifty-sixe, you shall make up sixty-eight yeares, which reach to the end of the sixt AGE, and is called Old Age.-The SEAVENTH and last of these seven ages is limited from sixty-eight yeares, so far as four-scorc and eight, being called weak, declining, and Decrepite Age. If any man chance to goe beyond this age, (which is more admired than noted in many,) you shall evidently perceive that he will returne to his first condition of Infancy againe.”

Hippocrates likewise divided the life of man into seven ages, but differs from Proclus in the number of years allotted to each period. See Brown's Vulgar Errors, folio, 1686, p. 173.

MALONE. I have seen, more than once, an old print, entitled, The Stage of Man's Life, divided into seven ages. As emblematical representations of this sort were formerly stuck up, both for ornament and instruction, in the generality of houses, it is more. probable that Shakspeare took his hint from thence, than from Hippocrates or Proclus. Henley.

One of the representations to which Mr. Henley alludes, was formerly in my possession; and considering the use it is of in: explaining the passage before us, “ I could have better spared a better print." "I well remember that it exhibited the schoolboy with his satchel hanging over his shoulder. STEEVENS.

9 And then,] And, which is wanting in the old copy, was. · supplied, for the sake of metre, by Mr. Pope. STEEVENS.

Sighing like furnace,] So, in Cymbeline: “ he furnaceth the thick sighs from him .” MALONE.

Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick’ in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth: And then, the

justice;
In fair round belly, with good capon lin’d,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances,
And so he plays his part: The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon;

._ a soldier;

Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,] So, in Cynthia's Revels, by Ben Jonson :

“ Your soldiers face--the grace of this face consisteth much in a beard.STEEVENS.

Beards of different cut were appropriated in our author's time to different characters and professions. The soldier had one fashion, the judge another, the bishop different from both, &c. See a note on King Henry V. Act III. sc. vi : 6 And what a beard of the general's cut,"' &c. MALONE.

3 sudden and quick-] Lest it should be supposed that these epithets are synonymous, it is necessary to be observed that one of the ancient senses of sudden, is violent. Thus, in Macbeth:

16 I grant him sudden,

“ Malicious,” &c. STEEVENS. . Full of wise saws and modern instances, It is remarkable that Shakspeare uses modern in the double sense that the Greeks used raivos, both for recens and absurdus. WARBURTON.

I am in doubt whether modern is in this place used for absurd: the meaning seems to be, that the justice is full of old sayings and late examples. Johnson. Modern means trite, common. So, in King John:

« And scorns a modern invocation.” Again, in this play, Act IV. sc. i: “ – betray themselves to modern censure." "STEEVENS.

Again, in another of our author's plays:“- to make modern and familiar things supernatural and causeless.” MALONE. 5_ The sixth age shifts

Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon;] There is a greater

[ocr errors]

With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side ;
His youthful hose well sav’d, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound: Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness, and mere oblivion ;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every thing.

beauty than appears at first sight in this image. He is here comparing human life to a stage play of seven acts, (which is no unusual division before our author's time). The sixth he callş the lean and slipper'd pantaloon, alluding to that general character in the Italian comedy, called Il Pantalóne; who is a thin emaciated old man in slippers ; and well designed, in that epithet, because Pantalone is the only character that acts in slippers. WARBURTON.

In The Travels of the Three English Brothers, a comedy, 1606, an Italian Harlequin is introduced, who offers to perform a play at a Lord's house, in which, among other characters, he mentions “ a jealous coxcomb, and an old Pantaloune.But this is seven years later than the date of the play before us: nor do I know from whence our author could learn the circumstance mentioned by Dr. Warburton, that “ Pantalone is the only character in the Italian comedy that acts in slippers.”. In Florio's Italian Dictionary, 1598, the word is not found. In The Taming of a Shrew, one of the characters, if I remember right, is called “ an old Pantaloon,but there is no farther description of him.

MALONE. o the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,

With spectacles on nose,] So, in The Plotte of the deade Man's Fortune : [See Vol. III. —.] “ Enter the panteloun and pescode with spectakles." STEEVENS.

Re-enter ORLANDO, with Adam.
DUKE S. Welcome: Set down your venerable

burden,
And let him feed.
ORL.

I thank you most for him.
· Adam. So had you need ;
I scarce can speak to thank you for myself.

DUKE S. Welcome, fall to: I will not trouble you
As yet, to question you about your fortunes :
Give us some musick; and, good cousin, sing.

[merged small][ocr errors]

Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind

As man's ingratitude ; 8
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,

Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh, ho! sing, heigh, ho! unto the green holly :
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly :

Then, heigh, ho, the holly!.

This life is most jolly.

[ocr errors]

- Set down your venerable burden,] Is it not likely that Shakspeare had in his mind this line of the Metamorphoses? XIII. 125:

" Patremque
Fert humeris, venerabile onus, Cythereius heros.

JOHNSON
A. Golding, p. 169, b. edit. 1587, translates it thus :

“ upon his backe
“ His aged father and his gods, an honorable packe.

STEEVENS.

« AnteriorContinuar »