Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

“ Believe not thy disdain, but presently

“ Do thine own fortunes that obedient right." “ Believe not thy disdain" is much too feeble an expression to come from the pen of Shakspeare. The passage is, uo duubt, corrupted. I therefore read as follows :

“ Beleve thy hot disdain; and presently." i.e. shake off thy intemperate disdain, and quickly." To beleve, in old language, is to leave off, to throw aside. The context will warrant the reading which I propose. B.

Into the staggers.] One species of the stoggers, or the horses' apoplexy, is a raging impatience which makes the animal dash himself with destructive violence against posts or walls. To this the allusion, I suppose, is made. Joun.

“ Into the staggers." This is not an allusion to the staggers in horses. To be staggered is to be perplexed, to be wavering, or irresolute. The king's meaning is-that unless Bertram agrees to what he had proposed, he would, by his conduct towards him, stagger or perplex him in such a manner, that his life should henceforth be made up of nothing but uneasiness, of doubt and uncertainty. B.

King.

As thou lov'st her, Thy love's to me religious : else, does err.

[Exeunt all but Parolles and Lafeu. The old copy has this singular stage direction: “Parolles and Lafeu stay behind, commenting of this wedding." Steev.

To comment means here, I believe; to assume the appearance of persons discoursing, observing, &c. MÁL.

[Exeunt all but Parolles and Lafeu.] What there is that can be called “ singular" in this stage direction, no one but Mr. Steevens, I believe, will be able to discover. The note respecting the directiou indeed would be termed singular, had it proceeded from any other than himself. B.

Hel, 0

you

leaden messengers,
That ride upon the violent speed of fire,
Fly with false aim; move the still-piecing air,
That sings with piercing, do not touch my lord !

-move the still-piercing air,

That sings wilh piercing:
The words are here oddly shuffled into nonsense. We should read :

-pierce the still-moving air,

That sings with piercing. 1. e. pierce the air, which is in perpetual motion, and suffers no injury by piercing. WARB

The old copy reads--the still-peering air. Perhaps we might better read :

--the still-piecing air. i. e. the air that closes immediately. This has been proposed already, but I forget by whom. STEEY. SHAK, 1.

X

[ocr errors]

I have no doubt that still-piecing was Shakspeare's word. But the passage is not yet quite souns. We should read, I believe,

rove the still-piecing air. i. e. fly at random through.] The allusion is to shooting at rovers in archery, which was shooting withont any particular aim. TyRw.

you

leaden messengers,
“ That ride upon the violent speed of fire,
“ Fly with false aim: move the still-piecing air

“ That sings with piercing." “The piecing air" is feeble : add to this, that the construction of the passage is evidently wrong--for to what end or purpose are these leaden messengers to move the “piecing air ? ” A like objection must be made to the old reading. The sense is neither · move the piercing air, nor pierce the moving air; but " move leaden messengers, piercing the air ever and only: touch not Bertram." Read the lines as under:

you

seaden messengers,
" That ride upon the violent speed of fire,
“ Fly with false aim: move,--the air still piercing,

" That sings with piercing; do not touch my lord!" Thus regulated, the meaning is clear and the expression forcible.

" the air still piercing, “ That sings with piercing," is not altogether agreeable to modern cars; but of such reduplication Shakspeare was fond. B.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Dia. 'Tis pity he is not honest : Yond's that same

knave, That leads him to these places; were I his lady, I'd poison that vile rascal.

Yond's that same knane,

That leads him to these places. What places? Have they been talking of brothels; or, indeed, any particular locality! I make no question but our author wrote:

That leads him to these paccs. i. e, such irregular steps, to courses of debauchery, to not loving his wife. THEOB. The places are, apparently, where he

-brokes with all, that can in such a suit

Corrupt, &c. STEEV. “ Leads bim to these places.” Theobald is right in objecting to "places,” but paces, (though he seems indeed to have caught the sense of the passage) is very inexpressive of it. I have little doubt but that Shakspeare wrote plaiscs (i. e. pleasures) a word which he has coined from the French plaise, and employed it substantively, “Yonder is the knave who draws him into these pleasures and which are so unbecoming him." B.

Ber. I know, thou art valiant; and, to the possibility of thy soldiership, will subscribe for thee. Farewell.

[ocr errors]

Possibility of thy soldiership.] I will subscribe (says Bertram) to the possibility of your soldiership. He suppresses that he should not be so willing to vouch for its probability. STEEV.

« Possibility of thy soldiersbip.” Mr. Steevens is again at fault. Bertram does not insinuate that it is barely possible for Parolles to evince his courage. (Had he not on the very instant said I know thou art valiant?] By “the possibility of thy soldiership” wę must understand " Every thing that it is possible for a soldier to perform, will be found in thee. Of this I am the voucher : this I am ready to maintain." B.

Par. Tongue, I must put you into a butter-woman's mouth, and buy another of Bajazet's mule; if you prat tle me into these perils.

And buy myself another of Bajazet's mule.] In one of our old Turkish histories, there is a pompous description of Bajazet riding on a mule to the Divan. Steev.

" And buy another of Bajazet's mule.” Parolles says that his " tongue prattles him into perils." I doubt not, therefore, that we should read “ Bajazet's mute.This is in point; while the present expression is ridiculous. B.

Dia. "Tis not the many oaths, that inake the truth;
But the plain single vow, that is vow'd true.
What is not holy, that we swear not by
But take the Highest to witness...

What is not holy, that we swear not by.]
The sense is, “ We never swear by what is not holy, but swear by, or.
take to witness, the Highest, the Divinity." The tenor of the reasoning
contained in the following lines perfectly corresponds with this; If
I should swear by Jove's great attributes, that I lov'd you dearly, would
you believe my oaths, when you found by experience that I lov'd you
ill, and was endeavouring to gain credit with you in order to seduce you
to your ruin? No, surely, but you would conclude that I had no faith
either in Jove or his attribuites, and that my oaths were mere words of
course. For that oath can certainly have no tye upon us, which we
swear by him we profess to love and honor, when at the same time we
give the strongest proof of our disbelief in him, by pursuing a course
which we know will offend and dishonor him. By not comprehending the
poet's scope and meaning, Dr. Warburton hath been reduced to the
necessity of fathering upon him such strange English as this : “ What
is not holy, that we swear,” to signify, If we swear to an unholy pur-
pose;" a sense those words will by no means bear. “ Not 'bides," to
signify, The oath is dissolved in the making; a meaning which can no
more be deduced from the words than the former.

As to the remaining words, “ But take the High'st to witness," they so plainly and directly contradict Dr. Warburton's interpretation, that it was utterly impracticable for him to reconcile them to it, and therefore he hath very prudently passed them over without notice.” REY,

" What is not holy, that we swear not by,
" But take the Highest to witness."

Warburton's change of “by" into " bides,” is not only unnecessary but faulty; as Heath, indeed, has shown. But still the passage is not rightly read. The lines in question should be printed interrogatively. The comma at“ holy” must be taken away.

"What is not holy that we swear not by?

“ But take the Highest to witness?" i. e. What is (there of, or among the) holy that we do not swear by? Nay do we not take even the Higbest to witness for us?" This the poet has not very clearly expressed: but I am persuaded that such is the sense.' B.

Dia.

This has no holding,
To swear by bim whom I protest to love,
That I will work against him.
This has no holding, &c. It may be read thus :

- This has no holding,
To swear by him whom I attest to love,

That I will work against him. There is no consistence in expressing reverence for Jupiter by calling him to attest my love, and showing at the same time, by working against him by a wicked passion, that I have no respect to the name which I invoke. John.

To swear by him whom I protest to love,

That I will work against him.] This passage likewise aprears to me corrupt. She swears not by him whom she loves, but by Jupiter. I believe we may read, lo swear to him. There is, says she, no irolding, no consistency, in swearing to one that I love him, when I swear it only to injure him. Jonn.

Helena certainly swears by Jupiter, and not to her lover, as Dr. Johnson supposes. I read,

- this has no holding,
« To swear by him, and to protest I love

“ Whom I will work against.”
The immediately preceding lines will show that I am right. B.

Dia. I see, that men make hopes in such affairs, That we'll forsake ourselves.

I see, that men make hopes in such affairs.] The four folio editions read:

---muke rope's in such a scarre. The emendation was introduced by Mr. Rowe. I find the word scarre in the Tragedy of Hoffman, 1031. STELV.

Mr. Rowe's emendation being entirely arbitrary, any that is nearer to the traces of the unintelligible word in the old copy, and affords at the same time an easy sense, is better entitled to a place in the text. Mal.

“ Make ropes in such a scarre.” The passage is undoubtedly corrupt; but the reading proposed by Mr. Rowe is poor and bald indeed! If for “ropes" we read japes, and for “scarre" scathe, both which words were easily mistaken in transcribing, we shall, I believe, discover the meaning of the speech. Jape is jest, and scathe is injury. I read,

" I see that men make japes of such a scathe :

“That we'll forsake ourselves,” i. e. “I know that men are apt to make a jest of such injuries, and to think that they may rely on our weakness for success.

This is the lapguage whieh a woman of virtue inay well be supposed to hold to the man who is endeavouring to seduce her. But the following reading may perhaps be preferred, in which the original word “scar" may remain. It will signify, however, not a cliff or rock, but hurt, injury, the same as scathe.

I see that men make mopes in such a scar." To make mopes is to laugh and sneer. B.

Par. He will steal, sir, an egg out of a cloister. An egg out of a cloister.) I know not that cloister, though it may etymologically signify any thing shut, is used by our author otherwise than for a monustery, and therefore I cannot guess whence this hyperbole could take its original: perhaps it means only this: "He will steal any thing, however trifling, from any place, however holy." Joun.

" "An egg out of a cloister.” “Steal an egg out of a cloister" is very unmeaning. I read : “He will steal an Ag (i.e. an Agnes) out of a cloister." Such abbreviations are.common in ordinary life as Dy for Diana, Su for Susan, &c. &c.

Agnes is the name of a woman : and figuratively it may stand for chastity, which is indeed its primitive signification. Parolles would therefore say: “ He will steal chastity itself out of a nunnery,” By this reading all is uniform and easy. B.

Hel.

We must away; Our waggon is prepar'd, and time revives us.

Our waggon is prepard, and liine revives us ). The word revives conveys so little sense, that it seems very liable to suspicion.

-and tiine revyes us; i. e. looks us in the face, calls upon us to hasten. WarB.

The present reading is corrupt, and I am afraid the emendation none of the soundest. I never remember to have seen the word revye. One may as well leave blunders as make them. Why may we not read for a shift, without much effort, the time invites us ? Joun.

“ Time revives us.” The word " revyes.” will not have the sense that Dr. Warburton bas apnexed to it. I read:

« We must away

“ And time revynes us." 1. e. “We must away; for time is always stealing from us, or bereaving us of part of our existence." To revyne, in old English, is to bereare, to rob one of a thing. B.

Count. My Lord, that's gone, made himself much sport out of him : by his authority he remains here, which he thinks is a patent for his sauciness; and, indeed, he has no pace, but runs where he will.

« AnteriorContinuar »