Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

As true os steel,3 as plantage to the moon,

as the sense, of the last verse, will be improved, I think, by read. ing:

Want similes of truth, tir'd with iteration,-" So, a little lower in the same speech:

Yet after all comparisons of truth. Tyrwhitt. This is a very probable conjecture. Truth at present has no verb to which it can relate. Malone.

3 As true as steel,] As true as steel is an ancient proverbial simile. I find it in Lydgate's Troy Book, where he speaks of Troilus, L. II, ch. xvi:

“ Thereto in love trewe as any stele." Virgil, Æneid VII, 640, applies a similar epithet to a sword:

-fidoque accingitur ense.' i. e. a weapon in the metal of which he could confide; a trusty blade. It should be observed, however, that Geo. Gascoigne, in his Steele Glass, 1576, bestows the same character on his Mirrour:

this poore glass which is of trustie steele." Again:

that steele both trusty was and true." Steevens. Mirrors formerly being made of steel, I once thought the meaning night be, “as true as the mirror, which faithfully exhibits every image that is presented before it.” But I now think with Mr. Steevens, that -- As true as steel was merely a proverbial expression, without any such allusion. A passage in an old piece entitled The Pleasures of Poetry, no date, but printed in the time of Queen Elizabeth, will ailmit either interpretation:

“ Behold in her the lively glasse,

“ The pattern, true as steel.Malone. 4 as plantage to the moon,] Alluding to the common opinion of the influence the moon has over what is planted or sown, which was therefore done in the increase:

“ Rite Latonæ puerum canentes,
“Rite crescentem face noctilucam,
“ Prosperam frugum, Hor. Lib. IV, Od. vi.

Warburton. Plantage is not, I believe, a general term, but the herb which we now call plantain, in Latin, plantago, which was, I suppose, imagined to be under the peculiar influence of the moon. Johnson.

Shakspeare speaks of plantain by its common appellation in Romeo and Juliet; and yet, in Sapho and Phao, 1591, Mandrake is called Mandrage:

“Sow next thy vines mandrage." From a book entitled The profitable Art of Gardening, &c. by Tho. Hill, Londoner, the third edition, printed in 1579, I learn, that neither sowing, planting, nor grafting, were ever undertaken witholt a scrupulous attention to the encrease or waning of the moon. -Dryden does not appear to have understood the passage, and bas therefore altered it thus :

As sun to day, as turtle to her mate,
As iron to adamant,5 as earth to the center
Yet, after all comparisons of truth,
As truth 's authentick author to be cited,
As true as Troilus shall crown up the verse,
And sanctify the numbers.
Cres.

Prophet may you

be ! If I be false, or swerve a hair from truth, When time is old and hath forgot itself, When water-drops have worn the stones of Troy, And blind oblivion swallow'd cities up, 8 And mighty states characterless are grated To dusty nothing; yet let memory, From false to false, among false maids in love, Upbraid my falsehood! when they have said-as false As air, as water, wind, or sandy earth, As fox to lamb, as wolf to heifer's calf, Pard to the hind, or step-dame to her son; Yea, let them say, to stick the heart of falsehood, As false as Cressid 9

As true as flowing tides are to the moon." Steevens. This may be fully illustrated by a quotation from Scott's Dis. coverie of Witchcraft: “The poore husbandman perceiveth that the increase of the moone maketh plants frutefull: so as in the full moone they are in the best strength; decaieing in the wane; and in the conjunction do utterlie wither and vade.” Farmer.

* This opinion governs the practice of the generality of the farmers, in the neighbourhood of Philadelphia, especially those of German descent, at the present day. Am. Ed. 5 As iron to adamant,] So, in Greene's Tu Quoque, 1614:

“ As true to thee as steel to adamant." Malone. 6 As truth's authentick author to be cited,] Troilus shall crowon the verse, as a man to be cited as the authentick author of truth; as one whose protestations were true to a proverb. Johnson.

-crown up the verse,] i. e. conclude it. Finis coronat opus. So, in Chapman's version of the second Iliad:

“ We Alie, not putting on the crowne of our so long-held

warre." Steevens. 8 And blind oblivion swallow'd cities up,] So, in King Richard III, quarto, 1598:

“ And almost shoulder'd in this swallowing gulph

Of blind forgetfulness and dark oblivion." Malone. 9 Tro. when their rhymes,

Want similes -
As true as Troilus shall crown up the verse -

7

Pan. Go to, a bargain made: seal it, seal it; I'll be the witness.--Here I hold your hand; here, my cousin's. If ever you prove false one to another, since I have taken such pains to bring you together, let all pitiful goers-between be called to the world's end after my name, call them all-Pandars; let all constant meni*

Cres.
Yea, let them sav

As false as Cressid.? This antithesis of praise and censure appears to have found an imitator in Edmund Smith, the author of Phædra and Hippolytus:

Theseus “ And when aspiring bards, in daring strains, « Sball raise some matron to the heavenly powers, “ They 'll say, she's great, she's true, she's chaste as

Phædra. " Phædra. “ And when th' avenging muse with pointed rage, “ Would sink some impious woman down to hell, They'll say, she's false, she's base, she's foul as Phæ.

dra.” Act V. Steevens.

constant men -] Though Sir T. Hanmer's emendation [inconstant] be plausible, I believe Śhakspeare wrote-constant. He seems to have been less attentive to make Pandar talk consequentially, than to account for the ideas actually annexed to the three names. Now it is certain that, in his time, a Troilus was as clear an espression for a constant lover, as a Cressida and a Pandar were for a jilt and a pimp. Tirwhitt.

I entirely agree with Mr Turihist, and am happy to have his opinion in support of the reading of the old copy, from which, in my apprehension, we ought not to deviate, except in cases of ex. treme necessity. Of the assertion in the latter part of his note, relative to the constancy of Troilus, various proofs are furnished by our old poets. So, in A gorgeous Gallery of gallant Inventions, &c. 4to. 1578:

“ But if thou me forsake,

“ As Cressid that forgot.

" True Troilus, her make,” &c. Again, ibid:

“ As Troilus' truth shall be my shield,

To kepe my pen from blame,
“ So Cressid's crafte shall kepe the

“ For to resound thy shame." Mr. M. Mason objects, that constant cannot be the true reading, because Pandarus has already supposed that they should both prove fulse to each other, and it would therefore be absurd for him to say that Troilus should be quoted as an example of con. stancy. But to this the answer is, that Shakspeare himself knew

be Troiluses, all false women Cressids, and all brokersbetween Pandars! say, amen.

Tro. Amen.
Cres. Amen.
Pan. Amen. Whereupon I will show you

a chamber and a bed, 2 which bed, because it shall not speak of your pretty encounters, press it to death: away.

And Cupid grant all tongue-tied maidens here,
Bed, chamber, Pandar to provide this geer!

[Exeunt.

what the event of the story was, and who the person was that did prove false; that many expressions in his plays have dropped from him, in consequence of that knowledge, that are improper in the mouth of the speaker; and that, in his licentious mode of writ. ing, the words, if ever you prove false to one another,” may mean, not, if you both prove false, but, if it should happen that any falso hood or breach of faith should disunite you, who are now thus attached to each other. This might and did happen, by one of the parties proving false, and breaking her engagement.

The modern editions read-if ever you prove false to one ano. ther; but the reading of the text is that of the quarto and folio, and was the phraseology of Shakspeare's age. Malone.

It is clearly the intention of the poet that this imprecation should be such a one as was verified by the event, as it is in part to this very day. But neither was Troilus ever used to denote an inconstant lover, nor, if we believe the story, did he ever deserve the character, as both the others did in truth deserve that shame here imprecated upon them. Besides, Pandarus seems to adjust his imprecation to those of the other two preceding, just as they dropped from their lips; as fulse as Cressid, and, consequently, as true (or as constant) as Troilus. Heath.

* I have no doubt but Shakspeare knew the event of the story, and so I presume he did of every one of his plays, but that cannot invalidate the justice of Mr. Mason's remark, nor can it countenance nonsense, nor do away contradiction, howsoever, or by whomsoever defended. Am. Ed.

and a bed,] These words are not in the old copy, but what follows shows that they were inadvertently omitted. Malone.

This deficiency was supplied by Sir Thomas Hanmer. He reads, however, “- a chamber with a bed; which bed, because” &c. Steevens.

2

SCENE III.

The Grecian Camp.
Enter AGAMEMNON, ULYSSES, DIOMEDES, NESTOR,

AJAX, MENELAUS, and Calchas.
Cal. Now, princes, for the service I have done you,
The advantage of the time prompts me aloud
To call for recompense. Appear it to your mind, 3
That, through the sight I bear in things, to Jovem
I have abandon’d Troy, 5 left my possession,

3— Appear it to your mind,] Sir Thomas Hanmer, very properly in my opinion, reduces this line to measure, by reading:

Appear it to you,-. Steevens.

- through the sight I bear in things, to Jove &c.] This pas. sage, in all the modern editions, is silently depraved, and printed thus:

-through the sight I bear in things to come, -, The word is so printed that nothing but the sense can determine whether it be love or Fove. I believe that the editors read it as love, and therefore made the alteration to obtain some meaning.

Johnson. I do not perceive why love, the clear and evident reading of both the quartos and folios, should be passed over without some attempt to explain it. In my opinion it may signify-"No longer assisting Troy with my advice, I have left it to the dominion of love, to the consequences of the amour of Paris and Helen.”

Steevens. 5 That, through the sight I bear in things, to Jove

I have abandon’d Troy, &c.] This reasoning perplexes Mr. Theobald: “ He foresaw his country was undone; he ran over to the Greeks; and this he makes a merit of (says the editor). I own (continues he) the motives of his oratory seem to be somewhat perverse and unnatural. Nor do I know how to reconcile it, unless our poet purposely intended to make Calchas act the part of a true priest, and so from motives of self-interest insinuate the merit of service.” The editor did not know how to reconcile this. Nor I neither. For I do not know what he means by “the motives of his oratory,” or, “from motives of self-interest to insinuate merit.” But if he would insinuate, that it was the poet's design to make his priest self-interested, and to represent to the Greeks that what he did for his own preservation, was done for their service, he is mistaken. Shakspeare thought of nothing so silly, as it would be to draw his priest a knave, in order to make him talk like a fool. Though that he the fate which generally attends their abusers. But Shakspeare was no such ; and consequently wanted not this cover for dulness. The perverseness is all the editor's own, who interprets,

1

« ПредишнаНапред »