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LEON. Make't thy question, and go rot! Dost think, I am so muddy, so unsettled,
begins, by telling the King that he has loved him, is about to give instances of his love, and to infer from them his present zeal, when he is interrupted. JOHNSON.
I have lov'd thee,] In the first and second folio, these words are the conclusion of Camillo's speech. The later editors have certainly done right in giving them to Leontes; but I think they would come in better at the end of the line:
Make that thy question, and go rot!I have lov'd thee.
I have restored the old reading. Camillo is about to tell Leontes how much he had loved him. The impatience of the King interrupts him by saying: Make that thy question, i. e. make the love of which you boast, the subject of your future conversation, and go to the grave with it. Question, in our author, very often has this meaning. So, in Measure for Measure: "But in the loss of question ;" i. e. in coversation that is thrown away. Again, in Hamlet: " questionable shape" is a form propitious to conversation. Again, in As you like it : an unquestionable spirit" is a spirit unwilling to be conversed with.
I think Steevens right in restoring the old reading, but mistaken in his interpretation of it. Camillo is about to express his affection for Leontes, but the impatience of the latter will not suffer him to proceed. He takes no notice of that part of Camillo's speech, but replies to that which gave him offence-the doubts he had expressed of the Queen's misconduct; and says—“ Make that thy question and go rot." Nothing can be more natural than this interruption. M. MASON.
The commentators have differed much in explaining this pas sage, and some have wished to transfer the words " I have lov'd thee," from Camillo to Leontes. Perhaps the words "being honourable," should be placed in a parenthesis, and the full point that has been put in all the editions after the latter of these words, ought to be omitted. The sense will then be: Having ever had the highest respect for you, and thought you so estimable and honourable a character, so worthy of the love of my mistress, I cannot believe that she has played you false, has dishonoured you. However, the text is very intelligible as now regulated. Camillo is going to give the King instances of his love, and is interrupted. I see no sufficient reason for transferring the words, I have lov'd thee, from Camillo to Leontes. In the original copy
To appoint myself in this vexation? sully
CAM. I must believe you, sir; I do; and will fetch off Bohemia for❜t: Provided, that when he's remov'd, your highness Will take again your queen, as yours at first; Even for your son's sake; and, thereby, for sealing The injury of tongues, in courts and kingdoms Known and allied to yours.
Thou dost advise me,
there is a comma at the end of Camillo's speech, to denote an abrupt speech. MALONE.
Make't thy question, and go rot! &c.] This refers to what Camillo has just said, relative to the Queen's chastity:
"Believe this crack to be in my dread mistress-"
Not believe it, replies Leontes; make that (i. e. Hermione's disloyalty, which is so clear a point,) a subject of debate or discussion, and go rot! Dost thou think, I am such a fool as to torment myself, and to bring disgrace on me and my children, without sufficient grounds? MALONE.
9 Is goads, &c.] omitted in this line.
Somewhat necessary to the measure is Perhaps we should read, with Sir T. Han"Is goads and thorns, nettles and tails of wasps."
1 Could man so blench?] To blench is to start off, to shrink. So, in Hamlet:
66 if he but blench,
"I know my course.'
Leontes means could any man so start or fly off from propriety of behaviour? STEEVENS.
Even so as I mine own course have set down:
CAM. My lord,
Go then; and with a countenance as clear
Account me not your servant.
CAM. O miserable lady!-But, for me, What case stand I in? I must be the poisoner Of good Polixenes and my ground to do't Is the obedience to a master; one, Who, in rebellion with himself, will have All that are his, so too.-To do this deed, Promotion follows: If I could find example2 Of thousands, that had struck anointed kings, And flourish'd after, I'd not do't: but since Nor brass, nor stone, nor parchment, bears not one, Let villainy itself forswear't. I must Forsake the court: to do't, or no, is certain To me a break-neck. Happy star, reign now! Here comes Bohemia.
This is strange! methinks,
If I could find example &c.] An allusion to the death of the Queen of Scots. The play, therefore, was written in King James's time. BLACKSTONE.
My favour here begins to warp. Not speak?-
Hail, most royal sir! POL. What is the news i'the court?
None rare, my lord. POL. The king hath on him such a countenance, As he had lost some province, and a region, Lov'd as he loves himself: even now I met him With customary compliment; when he, Wafting his eyes to the contrary, and falling A lip of much contempt, speeds from me;3 and So leaves me, to consider what is breeding, That changes thus his manners.
CAM. I dare not know, my lord.
POL. How dare not? do not. Do you know, and dare not
Be intelligent to me? 'Tis thereabouts;
For, to yourself, what you do know, you must;
There is a sickness
A lip of much contempt, speeds from me;] This is a stroke of nature worthy of Shakspeare. Leontes had but a moment before assured Camillo that he would seem friendly to Polixenes, according to his advice; but on meeting him, his jealousy gets the better of his resolution, and he finds it impossible to restrain his hatred. M. MASON.
Do you know, and dare not
Be intelligent to me?] i. e. do you know, and dare not confess to me that you know? TYRWHITT.
Which puts some of us in distemper; but
POL. How! caught of me? Make me not sighted like the basilisk: I have look'd on thousands, who have sped the better
By my regard, but kill'd none so. Camillo,-
I may not answer.
POL. A sickness caught of me, and yet I well! I must be answer'd.-Dost thou hear, Camillo, I conjure thee, by all the parts of man, Which honour does acknowledge,—whereof the
Is not this suit of mine,-that thou declare
* In whose success we are gentle,] I know not whether success here does not mean succession. JOHNSON.
Gentle in the text is evidently opposed to simple; alluding to the distinction between the gentry and yeomanry. So, in The Insatiate Countess, 1613:
"And make thee gentle being born a beggar."
In whose success we are gentle, may, indeed, mean in consequence of whose success in life, &c. STEEVENS.
Success seems clearly to have been used for succession by Shakspeare, in this, as in other instances. HENLEY.
I think Dr. Johnson's explanation of success the true one. So, in Titus Andronicus:
"Plead my successive title with your swords." MALONE.