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Prenzie' I think should be Preenzie, i. e. Trim.
The meaning appears to be two-fold, trim ornaments, and trim authority.
Preenzie is formed by the same analogy as Tricksie : which latter word is found in the tempest. With respect to the former, it must be remarked that to Preen a hawk is to trim it. Shakspeare frequently borrows bis expressions from the Falconer; and as the first folio which has prenzie, is generally pretty correct, the reading above suggested will probably be admitted as right. B.
Claud. Ay, but to die, and go we know not where ;
“Aye, but to die, and go we know not where :
“ To lie in cold obstruction, and to rot, &c." This is false philosophy, since in manifesting a dread of coldness it gives, or supposes a power of perception, of feeling to dead, to exanimate matter. But we are to remember that it is the philosophy. of Claudio, and not of Shakspeare ; and that it has its source in weakness, in bis terrors at the thought of death. It is reported of Dr. Johnson, that fearing his dissolntion, he has been often heard repeating the ahove lines in a state of the deepest melancholy. Strange! that he who had distinguished himself by his moral and philosopbical discourses, should have shown so great infirmity. Johnson appears, from very many circumstances, to have been possessed of true piety: and such a may we might rather expect to find resigned in every thing to the will of heaven. His supplications, his ejaculating addresses to the deity are worthy of the christian character. How strange then is it, I repeat, to exhibit timidity at the prospect of an event which none but the wicked can have to fear? Much sooner might we have thought to hear from his lips that he was " content to live, but not afraid to die.” This, indeed, were true philosophy, that religious philosophy which fits us as well for this world as for the next. B.
-delighted spirit i, e, the spirit accustomed here to ease and delights. This was properly urged as an aggravation to the sharpness of the torments spoken of. The Oxford editor not apprehending this, alters it to dilated. . As if, because the spirit in the body is said to be imprisoned, it was crowded together likewise ; and so by death not only set free, but expanded too; which, if true, would make it the less sensible of pain.
This reading may perhaps stand, but many attempts have been made to correct it. The most plausible is that which substitutes,
--the benighted spirit. alluding to the darkness always supposed in the place of future punish- i ment.
Perhaps we may read,
-- the delinquent spirit, a word easily changed to delighted by a bad copier, or unskilful reader. Delinquent is proposed by Thirlby in his manuscript. John.
‘Delighted spirit.' Delighted has here no sense. I read the • belighted spirit,' i. e. the illumined spirit,—that spirit which escaped from its crib and confine in the body, as the Poet elsewhere expresses it, is supposed to become enlightened ; exquisitely sensible of good and ill: and hence its dread of future punishment for any transgression bere. The following passage from Seneca may be brought in support of this reading : “ We shall then” (at our deatb) “ discover the secrets of nature: the darkness shall be discussed, and our souls irradiated with light.”
We read in the book of Job,—“ Lo all these things worketh God oftentimes' with man, to bring back his soul from the pit, to be en lightened with the light of the living.” It would seem from this passage (and which no Biblical Expositor has attempted to controvert) that a second and perhaps a third eartlıly existence was given to man, while it strengthens the notion entertained by Pythagoras of the metempsychosis:--for enlighiened with the light of the living, I understand to be spoken of those who had passed to the skies, those who had received the light of heaven; and whose spirit was returned to inform a mortal body : since such expression, as it is particular, could only apply to particular persons. Josephus informs us“ the Pharisees were persuaded that men's souls have an immortal property in them; and that there are both punishments and rewards for such as have lived either virtuously or viciously upon earth ; and that the latter undergo everlasting confinement, while the former have liberty to come back again to life." This reviviscency or new being, the Greek Philosophers and others who likewise believed in it have termed an anabiosis ; Servius says in his remarks on the sixth Æneid of Virgil, that this privilege (as is gathered from the poet) the wicked obtained the soonest, an opinion wholly different froni that of the Jews. B.
Elb. His neck will come to your waist, a cord, sir. His neck will come to your waist, a cord, sir.] That is, his neck will be tied, like your waist, with a rope. The friars of the Franciscan order, perhaps of all others, wear a hempen cord for a girdle. Join.
“A cord, Sir." A play on a cord, and accord seems to be intended here. Elbow would say: “there is agreement, there is conformity, Sir.” B.
Duke. Which I, by my good leisure, have discredited to him, and now is he resolved to die.
“ Resolved.” Resolved seems here to have the sense of resolution, firmness : “ that he can die with fortitude." B.
In Hebrew it is thrice,
Duke. He, who the sword of heaven will bear,
Pattern in himself to know,
Grace to stand, and virtue go. These lines i cannot understand, but believe that they should be read thus :
Patterning himself to know,
In grace to stand, in virtue go. To“ pattern" is “ to work after a pattern," and, perhaps, in Shakspeare's licentious diction, simply to "work." The sense is : “ he that bears the sword of heaven should be holy as well as severe; one that alter good examples labors to know himself, to live with innocence, and to act with virtue." John.
By a slight alteration this passage will be rendered sufficiently clear, and even acquire some degree of elegance. I read,
“ He, who the sword of heaven will bear,
• Grace and virtue. Stand or go.” .
Duke. To bring you thus together, 'tis no sin;
Doth flourish the deceit.] A metaphor taken from embroidery, where a coarse ground is filled up, and covered with figures of rich materials and elegant workmanship. WÁRB. Flourish is an ornament in general. So in another play of Shakspeare:
"-empty trunks o'er-flourish'd by the devil." STEEV. “ Flourish the deceit.” The editors liave mistaken the meaning of flourish, in this place. It is here used for-make prosper, make successful. B.
Duke. How now? what noise ? that spirit's possess'd
with haste, That wounds the unresisting postern with these strokes.
That spirit's possest with haste,
That wounds the unresisting postern with these strokes. The line is irregular, and the unresisting postern so strange an expression, that want of measure, and want of sense, might justly raise suspicion of an error; yet none of the latter editors seem to have supposed the place faulty, except Sir Tho. Hanmer, who reads :
-the unresting postern, The three folios have it :
out of which Mr. Rowe made unresisting, and the rest followed him. Sir Thomas Hanmer seems to have supposed unresisting the word in the copies, from which he plausibly enough extracted unresting, but he grounded his emendation on the very syllable that wants authority. What can be made of unsisting I know not; the best that occurs to me is unfeeling. John.
"The unresisting postern.” The reading of the folios (unsisting) is so near to the true one, that to miss the sense of the passage seems wonderful. We must change unsisting into insisting; apply. ing it, however, not to postern, but to strokes. Read .
“ – that spirit's possess'd with haste, “ That wounds the postern with these insisting strokes." i. é. Strokes on the postern made by some person, who, if we may judge from the rapidity of them, insists, as it were, on entrance. B.'
Ang. This deed unshapes me quite, makes me un
pregnant, And dull to all proceedings.
Makes me unpregnant.] In the first scene the Duke says that Escalus is pregnant, i. e. ready, in the forms of law. Unpregnant therefore, in this instance before us, is unready, unprepared. STEEV.
"Makes me unpregnaut." Unpregnant in this place has so very wide, so very large a signification that it can only be interpreted by a periphrasis. It means that “when he ought to have, by reason of his situation, a proper conception of what might be most conducive to the public good, lie felt himself, as it were, without ideas, barren of project, unfurnished of state device." B.
Ang. How night she tongue me? Yet reason dares
" Yet reason dares her No." And this is right. The ineaning is, the circumstances of our case are such, that she will never venture to contradict me: dares her to reply No to me, whatever I say. WARB. Mr. Theobald reads :
" Yet reason dares hier note." Sir Thomas Hanmer :
“ Yet reason dares her : No." Mr. Upton:
“ Yet reason dares her-No," which he explains thus : “ Were it not for her maiden modesty, how might the lady proclaim my guilt? Yet (you'll say) she has reason on her side, and that will make her dare to do it. I think bot; for my
authority is of such weight,” &c. I am afraid dare has no such signification. I have nothing to offer worth insertion. John.
“Dares her no," &c. This “no” has puzzled the Editors. The right reading is assuredly on.
" Yet reason dares her ‘on." How might she tongue me? Yet (what have I to fear ?] reason will challenge her :' and she will not have courage to proceed. She must know from my general character, that any charge against me would fall to the ground. In other of Shakspeare's plays we find—“ Now let us on " " Straight will we on "--for “ Now we will proceed, or go forward.” B.
Isab. I would say the truth; but to accuse him s
He says, availful purpose; because he has no idea of the common reading. A good reason! Yet the common reading is right. Full is used for beneficial; and the meaning is, “ He says, it is to hide a beneficial purpose, that must not yet be revealed." WÄRB.
To sail full purpose, may, with very little force on the words, mean, to hide the whole extent of our design, and therefore the reading may stand; yet I cannot but think Mr. Theobald's alteration either lucky or ingenious. To interpret words with such laxity, as to make full the same with beneficiul, is to put an end, at once, to all necessity of emerdation, for any word may then stand in the place of another. John.
“ To vail full purpose.” The objection of Johnson, is nothing but cavil. “Full” is complete, and complete is perfect: and what is perfect may well be termed good: and what is good must necessarily in a moral sense) be beneficial to all men. “ Ale says it is to hide a perfected—a good, and consequently a beneficial purpose.” Is it possible that any thing should be clearer ? B.
Peter. I know him for a man divine and holy;
Nor a temporary medler.] It is hard to know what is meant by a temporary medier. In its usual sense, as opposed to perpetual, it cannot be used here. It may stand for temporal : the sense will then be, “I know him for a holy man, one that meddles not with secular affairs." It may mean temporising : “I know him to be a holy man, one who would not temporise, or take the opportunity of your absence to defame you.” Or we may read :
Not scurvy, nor a tamperer and inedler : not one who would have tampered with this woman to make her a false evidence against your deputy. John.
"Nor à temporary medler." A temporary medler' seems to mean one who meddles in every affair, however remote or foreigu