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Line 123. you dragons of the night !] The task of drawing the chariot of night was assigned to dragons, on account of their supposed watchfulness. Milton mentions the dragon yoke of night in his Il Penseroso.
STEEVENS. Line 125.
May bare the raven's eye :) The poet means no more than that the light might wake the raven ; or, as it is poetically expressed, bare his eye.
STEEVENS. Line 127. One, two, three,] Our author is hardly ever exact in his computation of time. Just before Imogen went to sleep, she asked her attendant what hour it was, and was informed by her, it was almost midnight. Iachimo, immediately after she has fallen asleep, comes from the trunk, and the present soliloquy cannot have consumed more than a few minutes : yet we are now told that it is three o'clock.
ACT II. SCENE III.
Line 149. His steeds to water at those springs
On chalic'd flowers that lies ;] i. e. the morning sun dries
of flowers. WARB. It may be noted that the cup of a flower is called calix, whence chalice.
JOHNSON. Line 192. And towards himself his goodness forespent on us
We must extend our notice.] i. e. The good offices done by him to us heretofore.
WARBURTON. That is, we must extend towards himself our notice of his goodness heretofore shown to us. Our author has many similar ellipses.
MALONE. Line 246. -one of your great knowing
Should learn, being taught, forbearance.] i. e. A man who is taught forbearance, should learn it. JOHNSON.
Line 250. Fools are not mad folks.] This, as Cloten very well understands it, is a covert mode of calling him fool. The meaning implied is this : If I am mad, as you tell me, I am what you can never be, Fools are not mad folks.
STEEVENS. Line 256. -so verbal :] is, so verbose, so full of talk.
Line 264. The contract &c.] Here Shakspeare has not pre'served, with his common nicety, the uniformity of character. The speech of Cloten is rough and harsh, but certainly not the talk of one
"Who can't take two from twenty, for his heart,
"And leave eighteen."
His argument is just and well enforced, and its prevalence is allowed throughout all civil nations: ́ as for rudeness, he seems not to be much undermatched. JOHNSON.
Line 270. in self-figur'd knot ;] A self-figured knot is a knot formed by yourself. JOHNSON.
Line 274. A hilding for a livery,] A low fellow, only fit to wear a livery, and serve as a lacquey. MALONE.
Line 296. a jewel, that too casually
Hath left mine arm ;] That hath accidentally fallen from my arm by my too great negligence.
MALONE. Line 313. She's my good lady ;] This is said ironically. My good lady is equivalent to-my good friend. MALONE.
ACT II. SCENE IV.
Line 346. To their approvers,] i. e. To those who try them. WARBURTON.
407. And Cydnus swell'd above the banks, or for The press of boats, or pride:] Iachimo's language is such as a skilful villain would naturally use, a mixture of airy triumph and serious deposition. His gaiety shows his seriousness to be without anxiety, and his seriousness proves his gaiety to be .without art. JOHNSON.
Line 423. So likely to report themselves:] So near to speech. The Italians call a portrait, when the, likeness is remarkable, a speaking picture. JOHNSON. Line 424. Was as another nature, dumb;] The meaning is this: The sculpture was as nature, but as nature dumb; he gave every thing that nature gives, but breath and motion. In breath is .included speech. JOHNSON.
This is her honour !
Let it be granted, you have seen all this, &c.] The
expression is ironical. Iachimo relates many particulars, to which Posthumus answers with impatience :
"This is her honour!"
That is, And the attainment of this knowledge is to pass for the corruption of her honour. JOHNSON
your cheek JOHNSON.
-The vows of women-] The love vowed by women no more abides with him to whom it is vowed, than women adhere to their virtue. JOHNSON. Line 482. The cognizance-] The badge; the token, the visible proof. JOHNSON.
-if you can
Be pale ;] If you can, forbear to flush
Line 33. (Poor ignorant baubles!)] Unacquainted with the nature of our boisterous seas. JOHNSON,
Line 83. Macbeth:
Line 37. (0, giglot fortune!)] O false and inconstant fortune! A giglot was a strumpet. So, in Hamlet: "Out, out, thou strumpet fortune!"
MALONE. —keep at utterance ;] i. e. at extreme distance. WARBURTON. More properly in a state of hostile defiance, and deadly opposi tion. JOHNSON.
-I am perfect,] I am well informed. So, in
-in your state of honour I am perfect." JOHNS.
ACT III. SCene II.
-What false Italian
(As poisonous tongue'd, as handed,)] About Shakspeare's time the practice of poisoning was very common in Italy, and the suspicion of Italian poisons yet more common.
JOHNSON, Line 106. -take in some virtue.] To take in a town, is tọ conquer it. JOHNSON.
Line 120. I am ignorant in what I am commanded.] i. e. I am unpractised in the arts of murder. STEEVENS.
Line 131. For it doth physick love;] That is, grief for absence keeps love in health and vigour. JOHNSON. Line 165. That run i' the clock's behalf:] This fantastical expression means no more than sand in an hour-glass, used to measure time. WARBURTON. Line 171. A franklin's housewife.] A franklin is literally a freeholder, with a small estate, neither villain nor vassal.
Line 173. I see before me, man, nor here, nor here,
see neither one way nor other, before me nor behind me, but all
ACT III. SCENE III.
Line 185. Their impious turbands on,] The idea of a giant was, among the readers of romances, who were almost all the readers of those times, always confounded with that of a SaJOHNSON.
Line 200. This service is not service, &c.] In war it is not sufficient to do duty well; the advantage rises not from the act, but the acceptance of the act. JOHNSON. . Line 204. The sharded beetle-] "The cases (says Goldsmith) which beetles have to their wings, are the more necessary, as they often live under the surface of the earth, in holes, which they dig out by their own industry." These are undoubtedly the safe holds to which Shakspeare alludes. MALONE.
Line 207. than doing nothing for a babe ;] A babe and baby are synonymous. A baby being a puppet or play-thing for children, perhaps, if there be no corruption, a babe here means a puppet.
Line 221. To stride a limit.] To overspass his bound.
JOHNSON. 222. What should we speak of,] This dread of an old age,
unsupplied with matter for discourse and meditation, is a sentiment natural and noble. No state can be more destitute than that of him, who, when the delights of sense forsake him, has no pleasures of the mind. JOHNSON.
Line 232. How you speak!] Otway seems to have taken many hints for the conversation that passes between Acasto and his sons, from the scene before us. STEEVENS.
Line 296.- -I stole these babes ;] Shakspeare seems to intend Belarius for a good character, yet he makes him forget the injury which he has done to the young princes, whom he has robbed of a kingdom only to rob their father of heirs.-The latter part of this soliloquy is very inartificial, there being no particular reason why Belarius should now tell to himself what he could not know better by telling it. JOHNSON.
ACT III. SCENE IV.
drug-dumn'd—] This is another allusion to JOHNSON.
Line 321. Italian poisons.
Line 333. Outvenoms all the worms of Nile; &c.] Serpents and dragons by the old writers were called worms. STEEVENS. Line 335. states,] Persons of highest rank. JOHNSON. -349. -Some jay of Italy,] There is a prettiness in this expression; putta, in Italian, signifying both a jay and á· whore: I suppose from the gay feathers of that bird. WARB.
Line 350. Whose mother was her painting,] Some jay of Italy, made by art; the creature, not of nature, but of painting. In this sense painting may be not improperly termed her mother.
Line 364. Wilt lay the leaven on all proper men ; &c.] i. e. says Mr. Upton, "wilt infect and corrupt their good name, (like sour dough that leaveneth the whole mass), and wilt render them suspected." MALONE.
Line 382. That cravens my weak hand.] That makes me afraid to put an end to my own life. MALONE.
Line 386. The scriptures-] So, Ben Jonson, in The Sad Shepherd:
"The lover's scriptures, Heliodore's, or Tatius'."