Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

Will I Rosalinda write;

Teaching all that read, to know
The quintessence of every sprite

Heaven would in little show.
Therefore heaven nature charg'd'

That one body should be filld
With all graces wide enlarg'd:

Nature presently distill d
Helen's cheek, but not her heart;

Cleopatra's majesty;
Atalanta's better part; 8

Sad" Lucretia's modesty.

6- in little show.] The allusion is to a miniature-portrait. The current phrase in our author's time was “ painted in little..

MALONE. So, in Hamlet : —a hundred ducats a-piece, for his picture in little.Steevens.

7 Therefore heaven nature charg'd~] From the picture of Apelles, or the accomplishments of Pandora. . Πανδωρην οτι σαν7ει Όλυμπια δωματεχοντες

Awpor edwonoay. So, before:

" But thou .. “ So perfect, and so peerless, art created

“ Of every creature's best.” Tempest. Perhaps from this passage Swift had his hint of Biddy Floyd. ,

JOHNSON. 8 Atalanta's better part;] I know not well what could be the better part of Atalanta here ascribed to Rosalind. Of the. Atalanta most celebrated, and who therefore must be intended here where she has no epithet of discrimination, the better part seems to have been her heels, and the worse part was so bad that Rosalind would not thank her lover for the comparison. There is a more obscure Atalanta, a huntress and a heroine, but of her nothing bad is recorded, and therefore I know not which was her better part. Shakspeare was no despicable mythologist, yet he seems here to have mistaken some other character for that of Atalanta. Johnson.

Perhaps the poet means her beauty and graceful elegance of shape, which he would prefer to her swiftness. Thus Ovid :

Thus Rosalind of many parts

By heavenly synod was devisd;
Of many faces, eyes, and hearts,

To have the touches dearest priz'd.

nec dicere posses,
Laude pedum, formæne bono præstantior esset.
Ut faciem, et posito corpus velamine vidit,

“ Obstupuit - ". But cannot Ātalanta's better part mean her virtue or virgin chastity, with which nature had graced Rosalind, together with Helen's beauty without her heart or lewdness, with Cleopatra's dignity of behaviour, and with Lucretia's modesty, that scorned to survive the loss of honour? Pliny's Natural History, B.XXXV. c. iii. mentions the portraits of Atalanta and Helen, utraque excellentissima forma, sed altera ut virgo; that is, “ both of them for beauty, incomparable, and yet a man may discerne the one

Atalanta] of them to be a maiden, for her modest and chaste countenance,” as Dr. P. Holland translated the passage; of which probably our poet had taken notice, for surely he had judgment in painting. TOLLET.

I suppose Atalanta's better part is her wit, i. e, the swiftness of her mind. FARMER.

Shakspeare might have taken part of this enumeration of distinguished females from John Grange's Golden Aphroditis, 1577: “ — who seemest in my sight faire Helen of Troy, Polixene, Calliope, yea Atalanta hir selfe in beauty to surpasse, Pandora in qualities, Penelope and Lucretia in chastenesse to deface.” Again, ibid:

“ Polixene fayre, Caliop, and

“Penelop may give place;
" Atlanta and dame Lucres fayre.

“ She doth them both deface.” Again, ibid: Atalanta who sometyme bore the bell of beauties price in that hyr native soyle.”

It may be observed, that Statius also, in his sixth Thebaid, has confounded Atalanta the wife of Hippomenes, and daughter of Siconeus, with Atalanta the daughter of Enomaus, and wife of Pelops. See v. 564. STEEVENS.

Dr. Farmer's explanation may derive some support from a subsequent passage : “ as swift a wit as Atalanta's heels.”

MALONE.

Heaven would that she these gifts should have,
And I to live and die her slave.

I think this stanza was formed on an old tetrastick epitaph, which, as I have done, Mr. Steevens may possibly have read in a country church-yard :

« She who is dead and sleepeth in this tomb,
“ Had Rachel's comely face, and Leah's fruitful womb:
“ Sarah's obedience, Lydia's open heart,
“ And Martha's care, and Mary's better part.

WHALLEY. The following passage in Marston's Insatiate Countesse, 1613, might lead one to suppose that Atalanta's better part was her lips :

“ That eye was Juno's;
“ Those lips were her’s that won the golden ball;

“ That virgin blush Diana's.” Be this as it may, these lines show that Atalanta was considered as uncommonly beautiful, and therefore may serve to support Mr. Tollet's first interpretation.

It is observable that the story of Atalanta in the tenth Book of Ovid's Metamorphosis is interwoven with that of Venus and Adonis, which our author had undoubtedly read. The lines most material to the present point run thus in Golding's translation, 1567: “ She overcame them out of doubt; and hard it is to

tell “ Thee, whether she did in footemanshippe or beautie

more excell.” “ he did condemne the young men's love. But

when “ He saw her face and body bare, (for why, the lady

then “ Did strip her to her naked skin,) the which was like to

mine, “ Or rather, if that thou wast made a woman, like to

thine,

“ He was amaz'd.”

" — And though that she 6. Did flie as swift as arrow from a Turkie bow, yet hee “ More wondered at her beautie, then at swiftnesse of her

pace; “ Her running greatly did augment her beautie and her

grace.” MALONE.

Ros. O most gentle Jupiter !-what tedious homily of love have you wearied your parishioners withal, and never cry'd, Have patience, good people!

CEL. How now! back friends ;-Shepherd, go off a little :-Go with him, sirrah.

Touch. Come, shepherd, let us make an honour. able retreat; though not with bag and baggage, yet with scrip and scrippage.

[Exeunt CoRin and TouchSTONE. CEL. Didst thou hear these verses ?

Ros. O, yes, I heard them all, and more too; for some of them had in them more feet than the verses would bear.

CEL. That's no matter; the feet might bear the verses.

Ros. Ay, but the feet were lame, and could not bear themselves without the verse, and therefore stood lamely in the verse.

CEL. But didst thou hear, without wondering

The passage quoted by Mr. Malone from Marston's Insatiate Countess, has no reference to the ball of Atalanta, but to the golden apple which was adjudged to Venus by Paris, on Mount

Ida.

After all, I believe, that “ Atalanta's better partmeans only -the best part about her, such as was most commended.

STEEVENS. 9 Sad -] Is grave, sober, not light. JOHNSON...

So, in Much Ado about Nothing : “ She is never sad but when she sleeps.” STEEVENS. 1 the touches-] The features; les traits.

JOHNSON, So, in King Richard III: “ Madam, I have a touch of your condition."

STEEVENS.

how thy name should be hang'd and carved upon these trees?

Ros. I was seven of the nine days out of the wonder, before you came; for look here what I found on a palm-tree : ? I was never so be-rhymed since Pythagoras' time, that I was an Irish rat, which I can hardly remember.

CEL. Trow you, who hath done this? Ros. Is it a man? · Cel. And a chain, that you once wore, about his neck: Change you colour ?

Ros. I pr’ythee, who?
CEL. O lord, lord! it is a hard matter for friends

- a palm-tree:] A palm-tree, in the forest of Arden, is as much out of its place, as the lioness in a subsequent scene.

- STEEVENS. 3- I was never so be-rhymed since Pythagoras' time, that. I was an Irish rạt,] Rosalind is a very learned lady. She alludes to the Pythagorean doctrine, which teaches that souls transmigrate from one animal to another, and relates that in his time she was an Irish rat, and by some metrical charm was rhymed to death. The power of killing rats with rhymes Donne mentions in his Satires, and Temple in his Treatises. Dr. Grey has produced a similar passage from Randolph : 66

My poets
“ Shall with a satire, steep'd in gall and vinegar,
“ Rhyme them to death as they do rats in Ireland.

JOHNSON. So, in an address to the reader at the conclusion of Ben Jonson's Poetaster :

“ Rhime them to death, as they do Irish rats

“ In drumming tunes." STEEVENS. So, in The Defence of Poesie, by our author's contemporary, Sir Philip Sidney: “ Though I will not wish unto you-to be driven by a poet's verses, as Rubonax was, to hang yourself, nor to be rimed to death, as is said to be done in Ireland,"

MALONE.

« AnteriorContinuar »