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So, Ilion, fall thou next! now, Troy, sink down:
[A Retreat sounded. Hark! a retreat upon our Grecian part.
Myr. The Trojan trumpets sound the like, my lord. Achil. The dragon wing of night o'erspreads the earth,
And, stickler3 like, the armies separates.
My half-supp'd sword, that frankly would have fed,
Come, tie his body to my horse's tail;
Along the field I will the Trojan trail.
SCENE X. The same.
Enter AGAMEMNON, AJAX, MENELAUS, NESTOR, DIO-
Agam. Hark! hark! what shout is that?
'Had puissant Hector by Achilles' hand
In Lydgate and the old story book the same account is given of
'Oh, thou Homer, for shame be now red,
Above echone that dost hym magnyfye,
That was so sleyghty and so full of fraude,
Why gevest thou hym so hye a prayse and laude?
3 Sticklers were persons who attended upon combatants in trials of skill, to part them when they had fought enough, and, doubtless, to see fair play. They were probably so called from the stick or wand which they carried in their hands. The name is still given to the arbitrators at wrestling matches in the west country.
Achilles! Hector's slain! Achilles!
Dio. The bruit is-Hector's slain, and by Achilles. Ajar. If it be so, yet bragless let it be;
Great Hector was as good a man as he.
Agam. March patiently along:-Let one be sent To pray Achilles see us at our tent.
If in his death the gods have us befriended, Great Troy is ours, and our sharp wars are ended. [Exeunt, marching.
SCENE XI. Another part of the Field.
Enter ENEAS and Trojans.
Ene. Stand, ho! yet are we masters of the field: Never go home; here starve we out the night.
Tro. Hector is slain.
Hector? The gods forbid¡ Tro. He's dead; and at the murderer's horse's tail, In beastly sort, dragg'd through the shameful
Frown on, you heavens, effect your rage with speed!
Sit, gods, upon your thrones, and smile1 at Troy! I say, at once let your brief plagues be mercy, And linger not our sure destructions on!
Ene. My lord, you do discomfort all the host. Tro. You understand me not, that tell me so; I do not speak of flight, of fear, of death; But dare all imminence, that gods and men, Address their dangers in. Hector is gone! Who shall tell Priam so, or Hecuba?
1 Hanmer and Warburton read :
smite at Troy ;'
which, it must be confessed, is more in correspondence with the rest of Troilus's wish.
Let him, that will a screech-owl aye be call'd,
Thus proudly pight2 upon our Phrygian plains,
I'll through and through you!-And thou, great-
No space of earth shall sunder our two hates;
[Exeunt ENEAS and Trojans.
AS TROILUS is going out, enter, from the other side,
Pan. But hear you, hear you!
Tro. Hence, broker 3 lackey! ignomy 4 and
Pursue thy life, and live aye with thy name!
Pan. A goodly med'cine for my aching bones!— O world! world! world! thus is the poor agent despised! O traitors and bawds, how earnestly are you set a'work, and how ill requited! Why should our endeavour be so loved, and the performance so loathed? what verse for it? what instance for it? Let me see:
2 Pitched, fixed.
3 Broker anciently signified a bawd of either sex. So in King John:
This bawd, this broker, this all changing word,' &c.
Full merrily the humble-bee doth sing,
Sweet honey and sweet notes together fail.Good traders in the flesh, set this in your painted cloths5.
As many as be here of pander's hall, Your eyes, half out, weep out at Pandar's fall: Or, if you cannot weep, yet give some groans, Though not for me, yet for your aching bones. Brethren, and sisters, of the hold-door trade, Some two months hence my will shall here be made: It should be now, but that my fear is this, Some galled goose of Winchester6 would hiss: Till then I'll sweat, and seek about for eases; And, at that time, bequeath you my diseases.
5 Canvass hangings for rooms, painted with emblems and mottoes.
See vol. iii. p. 154, note 29.
6 See King Henry VI. Part 1. Act i. Sc. 3, note 8, p. 22.
7 See vol ii, p. 12, note 4.
THIS play is more correctly written than most of Shakspeare's compositions, but it is not one of those in which either the extent of his views or elevation of his fancy is fully displayed. As the story abounded with materials, he has exerted little invention; but he has diversified his characters with great variety, and preserved them with great exactness. His vicious characters disgust, but cannot corrupt, for both Cressida and Pandarus are detested and contemned. The comic characters seem to have been the favourites of the writer: they are of the superficial kind, and exhibit more of manners than nature; but they are copiously filled and powerfully impressed. Shakspeare has in his story followed, for the greater part, the old book of Caxton, which was then very popular; but the character of Thersites, of which it makes no mention, is a proof that this play was written after Chapman had published his version of Homer.*)
It should, however, be remembered that Thersites had been long in possession of the stage in an Interlude bearing his name.
The first seven books of Chapman's Homer were published in 1596, and again in 1598, twelve books not long afterward, and the whole twentyfour books at latest in 1611. The classical reader may be surprised that Shakspeare, having had the means of being acquainted with the great father of poetry through the medium of Chapman's translation, should not have availed himself of such an original instead of the Troy Booke; but it should be recollected that it was his object as a writer for the stage to coincide with the feelings and prejudices of his audience, who, believing themselves to have drawn their descent from Troy, would by no have been pleased to be told that Achilles was a braver man than Hector. They were ready to think well of the Trojans as their ancestors, but not very anxious about knowing their history with much correctness; and Shakspeare might have applied to worse sources of information than even Lydgate.'Boswell
END OF VOL. VII.