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Many receipts he gave me; chiefly one,
Reader ! Do not imagine as some have done, that this note of Mr. S.'s is an affront to thee. He has very, ably explained the meaning of au expression which there is little probability, thou wouldst ever have discovered: that thou would'st ever have seen through even with the aid of a triple eye. B.
Hel The greatest grace lending grace,
The greatest grace lending grace. I should have thought the repetition of grace to have been supertuous, if the grace of gruce had not occurred in the speech with wbich the tragedy ul Macbeth concludes. STEEV.
“The greatest grace lending grace." Mr. Steevens by talking of repetition and superfluous in regard to the word grace is evidently ignorant of the meaning of the expression." The greatest grace lending grace," is, "the all gracious, the ALMIGHTY favoring my endeavour." “Grace of grace" in Macbeth, is likewise the all gracious, the all powerful
"This, and what needful else re 'That calls upon us, by the grace of grace,
“We will perform." i.e. aided by the Omnipotent. B.
King. Upon thy certainty and confidence,
Hel. Tax of impudence,
A divulged shume,
Sear'd otherwise; no worse of worst e.rtended,
With vilest torture lil my life be ended.] This passage is apparently corrupi, and how shall it be rectified? I have ::0 great lope of success, but something inust be tried. I read the whole tuus:
King, What dar’st thou venture?
Hel. Tax of impudence,
With vilest tortiire let my life be ended. When this alteration first came into my mind, I supposed Helena to mean thus : First, I venture what is dearest 19 me, my maiden reputa.
ton; but if your distrust extends my character to the worst of the worsi, I and supposes me seured against the sense of infamy, I will add to the stake
of reputation, the stake of life. This certainly is sense, and the language as grainmatical as many passages of Shakspeare. Yet we may try another experinseut:
Feur otherwise 'lo worst of worst extended;
With vilest torture let my life be ended. That is, let nie act under the greatest terrors possible.
Yet once again we will try to find the right way by the glimmer of Hanmer's emendation, who reads thus :
nry inaiden name
- my maiden name
With vilest torture del my life be ended. Juun. The great difficulty seems to lie in, “ No worse of worst extended," and the passage is evidently corrupt. I therefore read,
“A divulged shame,
altended "With vilest torture let my life be ended." i. e. I would submit to shame, and become the subject of odious ballads; my maiden reputation should be otherwise seared and branded; and if any thing can be worse, or more dreadful than this, my life should willingly be ended in torture. B.
King. Methinks, in thee some blessed spirit doth
speak; His powerful sound, within an organ weak :
Methinks, in thee some blessed spirit doth speak
His powerful sound, within an organ weak :) To speak a sound is a barbarism: for to speak signifies to utter an articklate sound, i.e. a voice. So, Shakspeare, in Love's Lubour Lost, says with propriety, And when love speaks the voice of all the gods. To speak a sound, therefore, is improper, though to utter a sound is not; because the word utter may be applied either to au articulate or inarticulate. Besides, the construction is vicious with the two ablatives, in thee, and, within an organ weak. The lines therefore should be thus read and pointed :
Methinks, in thee some blessed spirit doth speak i
But the Oxford editor would be only so far beholden to this emendation, as to enable him to make sense of the lines another way, whatever become of the rules of criticism and ingenuous dealing :
It powerful sounds within an organ weak. WARB. If we change the order of the lines, there is no longer any difficulty.
O powerful sound within an organ weak !
King. What impossibility would slay
And what impossibilily would slay
In common sense, sense saves another way.] i.e. and that which, if I trusted to my reason, I should think impossible, I yet, perceiving thee to bę actuated by some blessed spirit, think thee capable of effecting. MAL.
“In common sense, sense saves," &c. Sense,” in the second instance, seems to mean corporeal feeling. B.
King. For all, that life can rate
Prime.] Youth; the spring or morning of life. Joun.
“ That happiness in prime can happy call." į. e. happiness in the greatest degree. B.
Hel. Exempted be from me the arrogance
With any branch or image of thy slute.] Shakspeare unquestionably wrote impage, grafting. Impe, a graff
, or slip, or sucker: by which she means one of the sons of France. Caxton calls our prince Arthur, thul noble impe of fame. WARB.
Image is surely the true reading, and may mean any representative of thine; i. e. any one who resembles you as being rela:ed to your family, or as a prince reflects any part of your state and majesty. There is no such word as impage. Srcev. “With
branch or image," &c. “There is no such word as impage,” says Mr. Steevens. A truly ridiculous remark, when the writer is remembered of whom he speaks. Impage is certainly right. B.
Hel. To each of you one fair and virtuous mistress Fall, when love please !--marry, to each but one!
Dsarry, to each but one!] I cannot understand this passage in any other sense, than as a ludicrous exclamation, in consequence of Helena's wish of one fair and virtuous inistress to each of the lords. If that be so, it cannot belong to Helena ; and might properly enough be given to Parolles. TYRWH.
The entire speech belongs to Helena. “But one” means, with an exception to Bertram. She would insinuate, that love is not to give him a mistress, as she herself assumes love's power, and means to lay claim to Bertram. There should be a comma at " each.” B.
King. She is young, wise, fair ;
She is young, wise, fair ;
And these breed honor. The objection was, that Helen had neither riches nor title: to this the king replies, she's the immediate heir of nature, from whom she inherits youth, wisdom, and beauty, The thought is fine. For by the immediate heir to nature, we must understand one who inherits wisdom and beauty in a supreme degree. From hence it appears that young is a faulty reading, for that does not, like wisdom and beauty, admit of different degrees of excellence; therefore she could not, with regard to that, be said to be the immediate heir of nature; for in that she was only joint heir with all the rest of her species. Besides, though wisdom and beauty may breed honor, yet youth cannot be said to do so. On the contrary, it is age which has this advantage. It seems probable that some foolish player, when he transcribed this part, not apprehending the thought, and wondering to find youth not reckoned arnongst the good qualities of a woman when she was proposed to a lord, and not considering that it was comprised in the word fair, foisted in young, to the exclusion of a word much more to the purpose. For I make no question but Shakspeare wrote:
---She is good, wise, fair. For the greatest part of her encomium turned upon her virtue. To omit this therefore in the recapitulation of her qualities, had been against all the rules of good speaking. Nor let it be objected that this is requiring an exactness in our author which we should not expect. For he who could reason with the force our author doth here (and we ought always to distinguish between Shakspeare on his guard and in his rambles) and illustrate that reasoning with such beauty of thought and propriety of expression, could never make use of a word which quite destroyed the exactness of his reasoning, the propriety of his thought, and the elegance of his expression. WARB.
flere is a long note which I wish had been shorter. Good is better than young, as it refers to honor. But she is inore the immediate heitipf nature with respect to youth than goodness. To be immediate heir is to inherit without any intervening transmitter : thus she inherits beauty immediutely from nature, but honor is transmitted by ancestors; youth is received immediately from nature, but goodness may be conceived in part the gift of parents, or the effect of education. The alteration therefore loses on one side what it gains on the other. Joun. ,
." She is young, wise, fair.” “Good,” the reading proposed by Warburton, is in effect proper, hut wrong in regard to its being substituted by him for any expression that appears in the text. The Bishop savs, that youth is included in the word “ fair," and which lie considers as signifying not only young, but beautiful. I am of a totally different opinion, nor do I believe that either youth or beauty are to be taken into the account which is meant to be given of Helena's perfections. They aré, no doubt, to be understood of the lady thongh not set down; but it is of her moral, her intellectual excellencies, that the king would speak. By “ fair" I understand honest, good : tuus we now say “a person of fair (good) claracter: the very word, the very sense which the learned annotator contends for. In place of “young" I read sprung, (horn.]
“ She is sprung, wise, fair; ..
“ And these breed horor." The meaning is simply this: “She is born with ; or she inherits from mature, wisdom, and soodness." By the words : “ And these breed honor," he would further insinuale, that these patural qualities when sirengthened, when increased by culture, bring to the possessor the highest reputation, the greatest glory. It is not adscititious honor, nor, as Johnsou supposes, that wbich is derived from ancestors, that we are here to understand, but honor which has iis seat in the soul, and wbich becomes conspicuous by the exercise of wisdom and virtue. 1 hese Helena has to boast : and with these her parent (patare) bas cudowed her.
Warburton, who has nothing faulty to answer for, in respect to his coinments, but too much hasie, has here unwiltingly embraced the very error of the transcriber, and which he so justly censures: for if " fair" is, in this instance, to mean youth and beuuty, (I have already said, and in attevding to the tenor of the speech, that it is not to be admiited as denoting either) the objection that he has started against “ youvg,” is evidently not founded, or it is, in fact, to establish a distinction without a difference; and this, by the way, I have before had occasion to remark of this (as I yet hold him) most distinguished of Shakspeare's critics. Mr. Malone is mistaken in supposing, that the poet wrote honor-born, i.e. honorably descended. I repeat, it is not on such kind of distinction: pot on title (" it is a dropsied honor") that the eucomium is made. B.
• King. Belicve not thy disdain, but presently
Do thipe own fortunes that obedient right,