« AnteriorContinuar »
Line 148. One that will play the devil, sir, with you,
you alone.] The ground of the quarrel of the Bastard to Austria is no where specified in the present play. But the story is, that Austria, who killed king Richard Caur-de-lion, wore, as the spoil of that prince, a lion's hide, which had belonged to him. This circumstance renders the anger of the Bastard very natural, and ought not to have been omitted.
POPE Line 208.
-plagu'd for her,
Her injury,—the beadle to her sin ;]
- plagu'd for her
Her injury, the beadle to her sin. That is ; instead of inflicting vengeance on this innocent and remote descendant, punish her son, her immediate offspring: then the affliction will fall where it is deserved ; his injury will be her injury, and the misery of her sin ; her son will be a beadle, or chastiser, to her crimes, which are now all punished in the person of this child.
JOHNSON. Line 222. It ill beseems this presence, to cry aim
To these ill-tuned repetitions.] Dr. Warburton has well observed on one of the former plays, that to cry aim is to encourage. I once thought it was borrowed from archery; and that aim! having been the word of command, as we now say present ! to cry aim had been to incite notice, or raise attention. But I rather think, that the old word of applause was J'aime, love it, and that to applaud was to cry Juime, which the English, not easily pronouncing Je, sunk into aime or aim. Our exclamations of applause are still borrowed, as bravo and encore.
JOHNSON. Line 244. —your winking gates ;] i. e, gates hastily closed from an apprehension of danger.
MALONE, Line 288. Tis not the roundure, &c.] Roundure means the same as the French rondeur, i.e. the circle.
ACT II. SCENE II. Line 341. You men of Angiers, &c.] This speech is very poetical and smooth, and, except the conceit of the widow's husband embracing the earth, is just and beautiful.
JOHNSON. Line 354. Rejoice, ye men of Angiers, &c.] The English herald falls somewhat below his antagonist. Silver armour gilt with blood is a poor image. Yet our author has it again in Macbeth,
“ Here lay Duncan, “ His silver skin lac'd with his golden blood.” JOHNSON. Line 364. And, like a jolly troop of huntsmen, &c.] It was, I think, one of the savage practices of the chace, for all to stain their hands in the blood of the deer, as a trophy.
JOHNSON. Line 368. Heralds, from off, &c.] These three speeches seem to have been laboured. The citizen's is the best; yet both alike we like is a poor gingle.
Johnson. Line 372. cannot be censured:] i.e. cannot be estimated.
MALONE. 406. Cry, havock, kings ! ] That is, “ command slaughter " to proceed." So in another place : “He, with Atè by his side, ” Cries, harock !"
JOHNSON. Line 427.
these scroyles of Angiers-) Scroyles, i. e. mean or shabby rascals.
Line 433. Do like the mutines of Jerusalem,] Mutines, i. e. mutineers.
JOHNSON. Line 490. If zealous love, &c.] Zealous seems here to signify pious, or influenced by motives of religion.
JOHNSON. -at this match,
With swifter spleen, &c.] Our author uses spleen for any violent hurry, or tumultuous speed. So in Midsummer's Night's Dream he applies spleen to the lightning. I am loath to think that Shakspeare meant to play with the double of match for nuptial, and the match of a gun,
JOHNSON. Line 518.
That shakes the rotten carcase of old death
Out of his rags ] I cannot but think that every reader wishes for some other word in the place of stay, which though it may signify an hindrance, or man that hinders, is yet very improper to introduce the next line. I read,
Here's a stay,
Here's a flaw,
That shakes the rotten carcass of old death. That is, here is a gust of bravery, a blast of menace. This suits well with the spirit of the speech. Stay and flaw, in a careless hand, are not easily distinguished; and if the writing was obscure, fiuw being a word less usual was easily missed. JOHNSON.
Line 543. Lest zeal, now melted, &c.] We have here a very unusual, and, I think, not very just image of zeal, which, in its highest degree, is represented by others as a flame, but by Shakspeare as a frost. To repress zeal, in the language of others, is to cool, in Shakspeare's to melt it; when it exerts its utmost power it is commonly said to flame, but by Shakspeare to be congealed. JOHNS.
Line 643. -departed with a part :] To part and to depart were formerly synonimous.
STEEVENS, Line 646. -rounded in the ear- --] i.e. whispered in the ear. The word is frequently used by Chaucer, as well as later writers.
ACT III. SCENE I.
Line 15. For I am sick, and capable of fears;] i.e. I am tremblingly alive to apprehension.
MALONE. Line 51. -sightless —] The poet uses sightless for that which we now express by unsightly, disagreeable to the eyes.
JOHNSON. Line 52. -swart,] To swart means to blacken.
52. prodigious,] That is portentous, so deformed as to be taken for a foretoken of evil.
Johnson. Line 77.
- makes his owner stout.] The old editions have, makes its owner stoop : the emendation is Hanmer’s. Line 78.
To me, and to the state of my great grief,
Let kings assemble ;] In Much Ado about Nothing, the father of Hero, depressed by her disgrace, declares himself so subdued by grief that a thread may lead him. How is it that grief * in Leonato and lady Constance produces effects directly opposite, and yet both agreeable to nature ? Sorrow softens the mind while it is yet warmed by hope, but hardens it when it is congealed by despair. Distress, while there remains any prospect of relief, is weak and flexible, but when ‘no succour remains, is fearless and stubborn ; angry alike at those that injure, and at those that do not help; careless to please where nothing can be gained, and fearless to offend when there is nothing further to be dreaded. Such was this writer's knowledge of the passions.
JOHNSON. Line 86. To solemnize this day, &c.] From this passage Rowe seems to have borrowed the first lines of his Fair Penitent. Johns.
Line 100. prodigiously be cross'd :] Probably means be crossed by the production of a monster. Line 101. But on this day, &c.] That is, except on this day.
JOHNSON. 108. You have beguild me with a counterfeit,
Resembling majesty;] i. e. a false coin. MALONE. 112. You came in arms to spill mine enemies' blood,
But now in arms you strengthen it with yours :] I am afraid here is a clinch intended; You came in war to destroy my enemies, but now you strengthen them in embraces. JOHNSON.
Line 122. Set armed discord, &c.] Shakspeare makes this bitter curse effectual.
JOHNSON. Line 127. O Lymoges ! 0 Austria! &c.] The commentators have throughout understood Lymoges to have been an appendage to the title of Austria. Line 142. -doff it for shame,] To doff is to put off.
143. And hang a calf's-skin on those recreant limbs.] When fools were kept for diversion in great families, they were distinguished by a calf-skin coat, which had the buttons down the back; and this they wore that they might be known for fools, and escape the resentment of those whom they provoked with their waggeries.
HAWKINS. Line 165. What earthly name to interrogatories,] This must have been at the time when it was written, in our struggles with popery, a very captivating scene.
So many passages remain in which Shakspeare evidently takes his advantage of the facts then recent, and of the passions then in motion, that I cannot but suspect that time has obscured much of his art, and that many allusions yet remain undiscovered, which perhaps may be gradually retrieved by succeeding commentators.
JOHNSON. Line 198. That takes away by any secret course
Thy hateful life.] This may allude to the bull pube lished against queen Elizabeth. Or we may suppose, since we
have no proof that this play appeared in its present state before the reign of King James, that it was exhibited soon after the popish plot. I have seen a Spanish book in which Garnet, Faux, and their accomplices are registered as saints.
JOHNSON Line 233. Is, purchase of a heavy curse from Rome,] It is a political maxim, that kingdoms are never married. Lewis, upon the wedding, is for making war upon his new relations. Johnson.
Line 281. so strong in both,] I believe the meaning is, love so strong in both parties.
JOHNSON. Line 322. But thou hast sworn against religion ; &c.] The sense, after I had considered it, appeared to me only this : In swearing by religion against religion, to which thou hast already sworn, thou makest an oath the security for thy faith against an oath already taken. I will give, says he, a rule for conscience in these cases. Thou mayst be in doubt about the matter of an oath ; when thou swearest thou mayst not be always sure to swear rightly, but let this be thy settled principle, swear only not to be forsworn; let not the latter oaths be at variance with the former. Truth, through this whole speech, means rectitude of conduct.
ACT IİI. SCENE II.
Line 406. Some airy devil-] We must read, Some fiery devil, if we will have the cause equal to the effect. WARBURTON.
There is no end of such alterations ; every page of a vehement and negligent writer will afford opportunities for changes of terms, if mere propriety will justify them.
JOHNSON, Shakspeare here probably alludes to the distinctions and divisions of some of the demonologists, so much read and regarded in his time. They distributed the devils into different tribes and classes, each of which had its peculiar properties, attributes, &c.
These are described at length in Burton's Anatomie of Melancholy, part i. sect. 2. p. 45. 1632.
ACT III. SCENE III.
Line 431. Bell, book, and candle-) In an account of the Romish curse given by Dr. Grey, it appears that three candles