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Tharsus. A Room in the Governor's House.
Enter CLEON, DIONYZA, and Attendants.
CLE. My Dionyza, shall we rest us here,
DIO. That were to blow at fire, in hope to quench it;
For who digs hills because they do aspire,
" Here they're but felt, and seen with mistful eyes,] Old copy
Here they're but felt and seen with mischief's eyes. Mr. Malone reads-unseen. STEEVENS.
The quarto 1609, reads—and seen. The words and seen, and that which I have inserted in my text, are so near in sound, that they might easily have been confounded by a hasty pronunciation, or an inattentive transcriber. By mischief's 's eyes, I understand, "the eyes of those who would feel a malignant pleasure in our misfortunes, and add to them by their triumph over us." The eye has been long described by poets as either propitious, or malignant and unlucky. Thus in a subsequent scene in this play: "Now the good gods throw their best eyes upon it!"
I suspect this line, like many others before us, to be corrupt, and therefore read-mistful instead of mischiefs. So, in King Henry V. Act IV. sc. vi:
"For, hearing this, I must perforce compound "With mistful eyes, or they [tears] will issue too." The sense of the passage will then be,-Withdrawn, as we now
Who wanteth food, and will not say he wants it,
are, from the scene we describe, our sorrows are simply felt, and appear indistinct, as through a mist. When we attempt to reduce our griefs by artful comparison, that effort is made to our disadvantage, and our calamities encrease, like trees, that shoot the higher, because they have felt the discipline of the pruning knife. Shakspeare has an expression similar to the foregoing: "I see before me, neither here nor there, "Nor what ensues, but have a fog in them "Which I cannot pierce through."
Cymbeline, Act III. sc. i. I may, however, have only exchanged one sort of nonsense for another; as the following comparison in Mr, Pope's Essay on Criticism, v. 392, seems to suggest a different meaning to the observation of Dionyza :
"As things seem large which we through mists descry;" thus sorrow is always apt to magnify its object. STEEVENS. 7 Our tongues and sorrows do-] Mr. Malone reads-too. STEEVENS.
The original copy has-to, here and in the next line; which cannot be right. To was often written by our old writers for too; and in like manner too and two were confounded. The quarto of 1619 reads-do in the first line. I think Cleon means to say-Let our tongues and sorrows too sound deep, &c.
-till lungs-] The old copy has-tongues. The correction was made by Mr. Steevens. MALONE.
? They may awake their helps to comfort them.] Old copyhelpers. STEEvens.
Perhaps we should read-helps. So before:
be my helps,
"To compass such a boundless happiness!" MALONE. I have adopted Mr. Malone's very natural conjecture.
And wanting breath to speak, help me with tears. Dio. I'll do my best, sir.
CLE. This Tharsus, o'er which I have government,
(A city, on whom plenty held full hand,) For riches, strew'd herself even in the streets;" Whose towers bore heads so high, they kiss'd the clouds,2
And strangers ne'er beheld, but wonder'd at;
For riches, strew'd herself even in the streets;] For, in the present instance, I believe, means—with respect to, with regard to riches. Thus, in Coriolanus:
"Rather our state's defective for requital,
"Than we to stretch it out."
"Strew'd herself," referring to city, is undoubtedly the true reading. Thus, in Timon of Athens:
"Thou'lt give away thyself in paper shortly."
Shakspeare generally uses riches as a singular noun. in Othello:
"The riches of the ship is come ashore." Again, ibid:
"But riches fineless is as poor as winter-," Again, in his 87th Sonnet:
"And for that riches where is my deserving?"
I should propose to read richness, instead of riches, which renders the passage not only correct, but much more poetical.
Malone must also prove that he uses riches to express a person, or it will not agree with the word herself, or answer in this place. This last line should be in a parenthesis. M. MASON.
-bore heads so high, they kiss'd the clouds,] So, in Hamlet:
"like the herald Mercury, "New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill." Again, in The Rape of Lucrece, 1594:
"Threat'ning cloud-kissing Ilion with annoy." Again, more appositely, in Troilus and Cressida:
"Yon towers whose wanton tops do buss the clouds."
Like one another's glass to trim them by:*
DIO. O, 'tis too true.
CLE. But see what heaven can do! By this our change,
These mouths, whom but of late, earth, sea, and
Were all too little to content and please,
so jetted and adorn'd,] To jet is to strut, to walk proudly. So, in Twelfth-Night: "Contemplation makes a rare turkey-cock of him: how he jets under his advanced plumes!" STEEVENS.
Like one another's glass to trim them by:] The same idea is found in Hamlet: Ophelia, speaking of the prince, says he was: "The glass of fashion, and the mould of form, "The observ'd of all observers."
Again, in Cymbeline:
"A sample to the youngest, to the more mature
Again, in The Second Part of King Henry IV:
"Wherein the noble youth did dress themselves."
Those palates, &c.] The passage is so corrupt in the old copy, that it is difficult even to form a probable conjecture upon it. It reads-who not yet two savers younger. The words [not us'd to hunger's savour] which I have inserted in my text, afford sense, and are not very remote from the traces of the original letters; and savour and hunger might easily have been transposed. We have in a subsequent scene:
"All viands that I eat, do seem unsavoury."
I do not, however, propose this emendation with the smallest
Would now be glad of bread, and beg for it;
confidence; but it may remain till some less exceptionable conjecture shall be offered. MALONE.
The old reading is evidently erroneous, but the change of a single word, the reading of summers, instead of savers, gives us what certainly the author wrote:
Those palates who not yet two summers younger, &c. That is, "Those palates, who less than two years ago, required some new inventions of cookery to delight their taste, would now be glad of plain bread." M. MASON.
I have inserted Mr. M. Mason's emendation in the text. In Romeo and Juliet our author also computes time by the same number of summers:
"Let two more summers wither in their pride," &c.
to nousle up their babes,] I would read-nursle. A fondling is still called a nursling. To nouzle, or, as it is now written, nuzzle, is to go with the nose down like a hog. So, Pope:
"The blessed benefit not there confin'd,
In an ancient poem entitled The strange Birth, honourable Coronation, and most unhappie Death of famous Arthur, King of Brytaine, 1601, I find the word nuzzle used nearly in the same manner as in the text:
"The first fair sportive night that you shall have, "Lying safely nuzled by faire Igrene's side." Again, more appositely, ibidem:
"Being nuzzled in effeminate delights.' I have therefore retained the reading of the old copy.