« ПредишнаНапред »
lar one to Escalos. Having stated its import, he places it in the hands of Angelo at the close of the speech"Take thy commission." This seems clear enough, yet Johnson, explains it-" Continue to be Angelo; hold as you are." Tyrwhitt supposes that the Duke here checks himself, "Hold, therefore;" and that the word "Angelo" begins a new sentence. Knight says that "Hold" is addressed to Angelo, and used technically in the sense of to have or to hold. Hold, therefore," our power, “Angelo."
"MORTALITY and MERCY in Vienna"-i. e. "I delegate to thy tongue the power of pronouncing sentence of death, and to thy heart the privilege of exercising mercy."-DouCE.
"a LEAVEN'D and prepared choice”—“Leaven'd choice' is one of Shakespeare's harsh metaphors. His train of ideas seems to be this: I have proceeded to you with choice mature, concocted, fermented, leavened.' When bread is leavened, it is left to ferment: a 'leaven'd choice' is therefore a choice not hasty, but considerate; not declared as soon as it fell into the imagination, but suffered to work long in the mind."-JOHNSON.
"What, IN METRE"- -"There can be no doubt that in metre' can have no other reference than to the ancient metrical graces, to be said or sung-sometimes accompanied by some old monastic chant, such as we still hear in 'Non nobis, Domine.' Tieck (the German critic) nas, however, a singular crotchet upon this passage. He holds that the explanation thus given is nonsense; and that the allusion is to Johnson's favourite tavern, the Mitre, in a poor resemblance between the words 'metre' and mitre. We have seen a drawing of an ancient knife, upon the blade of which a Latin metrical grace is engraved, with the notes to which it was to be sung."-KNIGHT.
"a pair of SHEERS between us"-A common old proverbial expression, meaning that they were both cut off the same piece.
"as thou art PIL'D, for a French velvet"—" The jest about the pile of a French velvet' alludes to the loss of hair in the French disease-a very frequent topic of our author's jocularity. Lucio finding that the gentleman understands the distemper so well, and mentions it so feelingly, promises to remember to drink his health, but to forget to drink after him. It was the opinion of Shakespeare's time, that the cup of an infected person was contagious."-JOHNSON.
"the demi-god, Authority"-" Authority,' being absolute in Angelo, is finely styled, by Claudio, the demi-god.' To this uncontrollable power, the Poet applies a passage from St. Paul to the Romans, (chap. ix. verse 15-18,) which he properly styles, the words of heaven: For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy,' etc. And again: Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy,' HENLEY.
the DRIBBLING dart of love"-" Dribbling" used in a secondary sense, for "falling weakly, and without effect." Complete bosom" refers to the usages of armour, and means "a breast completely armed.”
"witless bravery KEEPS❞—i. e. "Dwells, resides. In this sense it is still used at Cambridge, where sti dents and fellows, referring to their collegiate apart ments, always say they keep'-i. e. reside there."REED.
This Shakespearian and collegiate term is common in many parts of the United States, in the sense here used: and has been considered as an Americanism, or at least a vulgarism.
a man of STRICTURE"-i. e. Strictness. "-head-strong STEEDS"-The folios read, "head strong weeds," which Collier retains, saying it is a "term still applied to an ill-conditioned horse." If there be such a sense of the word, weeds should be retained: but I have not been able to trace any such use, and have therefore, with all the other editors, presumed weeds to be a misprint for "steeds."
"—have let SLEEP"-In the first copies, slip is printed for "sleep." The folio which follows corrects the er ror; and in the next act Angelo says that the law hath 'slept." Knight retains slip.
“—IN slander”—This is the old reading of the folios. the meaning being—“And yet my nature never be in fight, or contest, with crime, to do what is necessary under an imputation, or slander, of severity. It has usually been altered, since Hanmer's edition, thus:And yet my nature never in the sight, To do it slander.
Collier and Knight restore the original text.
"—make me not your STORY"-i. e. “Do not make me your story, or jest:" to which Lucio naturally an swers, "'Tis true." Malone altered the passage to "Sir, mock me not-your story;" which renders Lucio's reply inapplicable.
66 - seem the LAPWING"-This bird is said to lead pursuers from her nest by crying in other places. This was formerly the subject of a proverb-"The lapwing cries most, furthest from her nest"-i. e. tongue far from heart. So, in the COMEDY OF ERRORSFar from her nest the lapwing cries away;
My heart prays for him, though my tongue do curse.
HIS lover"—"Lover" was, in that age, applied to both sexes. Shakespeare's poem of the "Lover's Complaint" is the lament of a deserted maiden.
the SEEDNESS"-This may well have been a mis print for seeding, which would improve the line. If it be the right word, it is one of Shakespeare's coinage.
"-teeming FOISON"-" Foison," or foizon, is plenty, especially abundance of harvest; as in the TEMPEST'all foison. all abundance." It was in common use is
Shakespeare's time; yet, so rapidly did the fashion of language change, that, in 1651, it is noted, by Cart wright, as obsolete!
"-and that's my pith of business 'Twixt you and your poor brother."
We have here, as after, preferred the original metri cal arrangement to that of the ordinary modern text, which reads
To soften Angelo; and that's my pith
Of business 'twixt you and your poor brother. Here, as after, the metre is irregular, but not more so than the rhythm of broken dialogue allows; while, as in many other instances of the metrical changes of the modern editors, a syllabic regularity has been gained by the distribution of the lines, at the expense of the natural melody.
"-they themselves would owE"-"Owe" is taken in its oldest sense, for own, have; so that he saysTheir petitions are as much theirs as they themselves wish to have them."
the MOTHER"-i. e. Of the convent; the prioress.
ACT II.-SCENE I.
-TO FEAR the birds of prey"-i. e. To affright; as in the MERCHANT OF VENICE.
"FALL, and bruise to death"-The verb is here used actively, as to fall a tree; and in AS YOU LIKE IT"The execution falls not the axe upon," etc.
"-thieves do PASS ON thieves"-i. e. How can the laws take cognizance of what I have mentioned? How can they know, whether the jurymen, who decide on the life or death of thieves, be themselves as criminal as those whom they try? To "pass on" is a phrase of the common-law, for "deciding upon,' giving their verdict upon." "FOR I have had such faults"-i. e. Because, by reason that I have had such faults.
"Some run from BRAKES OF VICE"-The words are printed, in all the older copies, "brakes of ice," which is certainly a misprint, for which two or three conjectural emendations have been suggested; no one of which is so evidently right as to leave little doubt as to what were the author's true words. Some read, as Tieck translates into German, "breaks of ice," which Collier
explains as escaping "from a danger as imminent as when ice breaks under the passenger." Stevens adopts Rowe's correction of "brakes of vice," and explain it as the "brakes" used in the time of the Tudors, as an instrument of inquisitorial torture-a species of rack. It is mentioned and pictured in the old editions of Fox's Martyrs." The sense, on this supposition, is that some escape the judicial rack, due to vice, while others suffer for a single fault. Neither of these seem as probable as a third solution, which is still not fully satisfactory. "Brake" is taken, in its more usual sense, for a thicket; and it refers to the thorny paths of vice, from which, thick-set as they are, some escape without punishment, while others are condemned for a single error. Ben Jonson has a similar metaphorical application of the word
Look at the false and cunning man
Crush'd in the snaky brakes that he had past.
Our own author has, in HENRY VIII., used the word in the same sense, though with an opposite application of the figure:
"Tis but the fate of place, and the rough brake
"Brake" is also said to have been anciently used for a trap, or snare, which again would allow another interpretation. Between the obscure brevity of expression and the doubt as to the right correction of the certain misprint, I do not venture to decide with confidence, but prefer the third solution-" the thickets of vice."
"-they are not CHINA DISHES"-The use of Chinaware, and its comparative value, mark the progress of commerce. In the days of classical profusion, a moderate China service, such as is now found in very unostentatious life, would have vied with a service of silver. It formed part of the splendour of Genoa and Venice, in the dawning of modern commerce. Here we find "China dishes" familiar to the popular luxury, but still something above vulgar use. The dramatists of the day speak of them in this estimate. In Massinger's "Renegado," the servant of the Venetian tells his master that his wares
Are safe unladen; not a crystal crack'd,
"China dishes (says Knight) were not uncommon things in the days of Elizabeth and James. We captured them on board the Spanish carracks; and we purchased them from Venice. Cromwell imposed a duty on China dishes; so that they had in his time become a regular article of commerce."
-three pence a BAY"-I should take this to mean, "three pence" for each large window; but "bay" is explained, in Coles's Dictionary, (1677,) as a front of twenty-four feet.
"I pray you home to dinner with me"-This pas sage amusingly marks the "early habits" of the period; for, although the scene is laid in Vienna, we find in this play, as in others, that Shakespeare often attributes the local manners and customs of his own country to his personages, wherever the scene may be laid.
"To fine the faults, whose fine stands in record"i. e. To pronounce the penalty upon the crime which the law already records as its due, and let the criminal escape. In this same dialogue we have "the recorded law."
"-touch'd with that REMORSE"-Here, and in act v., ("My sisterly remorse confutes my honour.") "remorse" is used for pity; as in OTHELLO, (act iii. scene 3.)
"Become them with one half so good a grace
No poet repeats himself so little as Shakespeare, but he is sometimes fond of reproducing the same train of thought, modified and coloured by a different passion in the speaker, or a difference of character. Thus, throughout this dialogue, the reader cannot but observe that the topics of the argument for mercy, and even the illustrations of it, are the same as those employed by Portia, in her appeal to Shylock. Yet, (as Mrs. Jameson says,) "how like and how unlike! Portia's eulogy on mercy is a piece of heavenly rhetoric; it is the voice of a descended angel addressing an inferior nature. If not premeditated, it is at least a part of a preconcerted scheme; while Isabella's pleadings are forced from the abundance of her heart, in broken sentences, and with the artless vehemence of one who feels that life and death hang upon her appeal."
"Like man new made"—"This reduction of man to the first associations of his primitive creation, when his soul was all innocence, and expanding with the ardent fulness of anxious sympathy, is one of the most exquisite images in SHAKESPEARE. It tells us that man is all merciful when all innocent: how much more, then, should he be merciful towards his fellow-creatures when, as now, most guilty!"-Illust. Shak.
"WHERE they live to end"-The reading of the folios is-here they live." Hanmer altered the text to "ere they live, to end; and Malone to "where they live, to end." Collier maintains the old reading, as meaning that the law there had formerly slept, and criminals escaped; but now it is awake, and resolves to punish crimes-" but here they live to end." Here crimes live only that they may be brought to an end. The misprint of here for where," in the old mode of writing, was very common; and the sense is thus clearer. The phrase, so amended, is Shakespearian; as in JULIUS CASAR
And where I did begin, there shall I end.
meant that peculiar turn of the human mind that inclines it to a spiteful and unseasonable mirth. Had the angels that, they would laugh themselves out of their immortality, by indulging a passion unworthy of that prerogative.
"FOND shekels"- -"Fond" is foolish, and in this instance worthless, or only valued by the foolish.
"Where prayers CROSS"-" The meaning is not clear. but may thus be explained. Isabella prays, Heaven keep your honour safe:' Angelo answers, Amen; for, tempted as I am, I pray for one thing, you for another. You pray heaven to keep my honour safe, I the contrary; and thus our prayers cross.'"-COLLIER.
It rather means, I think, "where prayers cross" (not each other, but) our intended or wicked purpose. The concluding speech, "From thee," etc., supports this
"— as the carrion does, not as the flower"-i. e. "I am not corrupted by her, but by my own heart, which excites foul desires, under the same benign influences that exalt her purity; as the carrion grows putrid by those beams which increase the fragrance of the violet." JOHNSON.
This image, as little agreeable as it may be, occurs again in the celebrated and much-contested passage in HAMLET "For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog," etc.
"-pitch our EVILS there"-"No language could more forcibly express the aggravated profligacy of Angelo's passion, which the purity of Isabella served but the more to inflame. The desecration of edifices devoted to religion, by converting them to the most abject purposes of nature, was an eastern method of expressing contempt." (See 2 Kings x. 27.)—HENLEY.
"the FLAMES of her own youth"-The old copies read flawes for "flames," which word Davenant, in his "Law against Lovers," (a play patched up from this and MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING,) restored. The misprint of w for m was common in old works; and as the flames of youth is a natural expression, and the metaphor requires fire to produce the blistering in the next line, there is little doubt that Davenant, who flourished near the time of Shakespeare, was right. This reading has been adopted in all the editions since Warburton's, except those of Knight, who retains flaws, as merely a redundant confusion of metaphor.
"LEAST you do repent"-"The modern editors have printed lest instead of 'least,' as it stands in the old copies, and have thus confused the meaning; which is, You do repent least that the sin hath brought you to this shame,' instead of repenting most the sin itself. This true reading makes the sense of the Duke's obser vation complete at But as we stand in fear,' without supposing his unfinished sentence to be broken in upon by Juliet, as it has been commonly printed."-COLLIER.
The reply of Juliet supports Mr. Collier's return to the old reading, which I think certainly right.
"SEVERAL subjects"—" Several" is here used not merely numerically, as we now use it, (" to a number of subjects,") but in its stricter and older sense, for separate, distinct subjects. Here there are only two, but those wholly opposed.
"the air beats for VAIN"-The old copies have vaine, which is the ancient orthography for "vain""Which the air beats for being vain." But several editors of authority follow Malone in reading it "for vane"i. e. which the air beats about as a weathercock.
"Wrench awe from fools"—" Here Shakespeare ju diciously distinguishes the different operations of high
"—with our SPLEENS"-By "spleens" Shakespeareplace upon different minds Fools are frighted, and
"Angelo's reasoning is-'O place! O form! though you wrench awe from fools, and tie even wiser souls to your false seeming, yet you make no alteration in the minds or constitutions of those who possess, or assume you. Though we should write good angel on the devil's horn, it will not change his nature, so as to give him a right to wear that crest.' It is well known that the crest was formerly chosen either as emblematical of some quality conspicuous in the person who bore it, or as alluding to some remarkable incident of his life; and on this circumstance depends the allusion."—M. MASON.
"THE GENERAL, subject to a well-wish'd king”—This is the old and intelligible reading. "The general" is the people. So, in HAMLET-"'twas caviare to the general," (act ii. scene 2;) and Lord Clarendon-" as rather to be consented to, than that the general should suffer."
"more for number than for accompt"-Sinful actions, done under compulsion, may add to the number of our wrong deeds, but are not of much account in summing up our guilt. This is sometimes literally true, but is here applied with a moral sophistry characteristic of the speaker.
"the ALL-BINDING law"-The old folios have"all-building law." This Collier retains, as “referring to the constructive and repairing power of law.' this has no application to the context, which agrees perfectly with the emendation of "all-binding," which all other editors have concurred in adopting.
"IGNOMY in ransom"-"Ignomy" was a frequent mode of writing ignominy. Davenant, in his alteration of this play, has given the sense of this somewhat obscure allusion in his paraphrase—
Ignoble ransom no proportion bears
"If not a FEODARY, but only he,
OWE, and succeed this weakness."
"The word 'this' (instead of thy, as in the old copies) is from an old MS. note in Lord Egerton's first folio. It is probably right; and the meaning of the whole passage seems to be-If we are not all frail, let my brother die, if he alone offend, and have no feodary (companion) in this weakness.' To 'owe' is here, as in many other instances, to own."-COLLIER.
Feodary" meant, originally, vassal, and is sometimes taken for one who, as a vassal, assists his lord in any matter. The passage is, in any way, dark, and crowded with remote allusions. Nares ("Glossary")
has probably given the right explanation :-" If he is the only one who holds by the common tenure of human frailty, and who 'owes' and 'succeeds by'-(i. e. possesses and succeeds to)—an inheritance of this infirmity."
-SMELL of calumny"-"Your accusation will appear so gross, that it will stifle yourself, and be considered a calumny. Shakespeare has suffered from the love of the literal in his commentators. Stevens informs us that the above is a metaphor from a lamp or candle extinguished in its own grease!' He would have done better, in this way, to have said that it was taken from a cannon stifled in its own report, by the smell of gunpowder. The word 'smell' is, however, used here in a sense common with Shakespeare; as though he had said smacks of calumny."-Illust. Shak.
'Survey," the initial letter contains a drawing of one of these struggles between Death and the Fool.
-nurs'd by BASENESS"-The condensation of thought, in single words and phrases, which is so characteristic of this and all the later dramas of its author, cannot be better shown than by comparing these lines with Johnson's excellent note on them; yet the paraphrase would furnish the material for many a page, in a still more diluted exposition of the same humbling truth:
"A minute analysis of life at once destroys that splen dour which dazzles the imagination. Whatever gran deur can display, or luxury enjoy, is procured by 'baseness'-by offices of which the mind shrinks from the contemplation. All the delicacies of the table may be traced back to the shambles and the dunghill; all magnificence of building was hewn from the quarry; and all the pomp of ornament dug from among the damps and darkness of the mine."-JOHNSON.
"—a poor WORM"-" Worm" is put for any creeping thing, or serpent. Shakespeare adopts the old notion, that a serpent wounds with his tongue, and that his tongue is forked. In old tapestry and paintings, the tongues of serpents and dragons always appear barbed, like the point of an arrow.
"death, which is no more"-Johnson is indignant at this passage, as teaching that "death" is only sleep"a sentence which in the friar is impious, in the reasoner foolish, in the poet trite and vulgar." Surely the Poet is here misunderstood. The friar does not speak of the "something after death," but of the transit from life, which he compares to that into sleep. The great hereafter is a subject the Poet is not wont to treat with levity. Provok'st, in this passage, is another instance of his peculiar use of words of Latin derivation, employing them in their original sense, and not in the derivative one in more common use. Provoke is not to irritate, but to solicit, to invite.
princes, or states, to observe their motions, or to hold correspondence with them." The same association of ideas is carried forward in the word appointment, which Stevens explains as preparation for death. But the word especially belongs to an ambassador, as we find in Burnet:-" He had the appointments of an ambassador, but would not take the character."
"all the world's VASTIDITY"-i. e. Though you were the possessor of the vast world, the terms proposed will fetter you to a fixed limit.
the poor beetle, that we tread upon"-These lines, taken apart from the context, would indicate that the bodily pain, such as is attended with death, is felt with equal severity by a giant and a beetle. The phy. siologists tell us that this is not true; and that the nervous system of a beetle does not allow it to feel pain so acutely as that of a man. We hope this is correct; but we are not sure that Shakespeare meant to refine quite so much as the entomologists are desirous to believe. It is somewhat amusing, (says a writer in the Entomological Magazine,') that his words should, in this case, be entirely wrested from their original purpose. His purpose was to show how little a man feels in dying; that the sense of death is most in apprehension, not in the act; and that even a beetle, which feels so little, feels as much as a giant does. The less, therefore, the beetle is supposed to feel, the more force we give to the sentiment of Shakespeare."
"-follies doth EMMEW"-Angelo makes follies mew up, or hide themselves; as the falcon compels the fowl to conceal himself. "Emmew" was a term in falconry
to coop up.
"The PRECISE Angelo"-The first folio has, "the prenzie Angelo;" and the second substituted princely for prenzie. The word occurs again three lines lower, where Isabella talks of "prenzie guards." Warburton would read priestly in both places, and Tieck suggests precise; which last, strange as it may be that a critic, who has learned English as a foreign language, should have hit what so many ingenious Englishmen had missed, bears in itself strong presumption of being the true reading. We agree with Knight, that, "having to choose some word which would have the double merit of agreeing with the sense of the passage and being similar in the number and form of the letters, nothing can be more unfortunate than the correction of princely. Warburton's priestly is much nearer the meaning intended to be conveyed. Tieck's precise has a much closer resemblance to prenzie than either of the others
(Prenzie; precise; princelie; priestlie.)
Angelo has already been called precise; and the term, so familiar to Shakespeare's contemporaries, of precisian, for puritan, and precise in reference to strictness of morals and manners, would make Claudio's epithet appropriate and intelligible. Princely guards (understanding by guards the trimmings of a robe) certainly does not give us the meaning of the Poet: it only says, the worst man may wear a rich robe. Priestly is here again much better. But precise guards distinctly gives us the formal trimmings of the scholastic robe, to which Milton alludes in Comus:'
"And blown with restless violence round about The pendent world," etc.
This idea does not belong to any form of Christian doctrine or opinion, but comes from the ancient philosophy, taught by Cicero in his "Somnium Scipionis :""Eorum animi qui se corporis voluptatibus de diderunt, corporibus elapsi circum terram ipsam volutantur,” etc. The metrical harmony of the spheres, so beautifully introduced in the MERCHANT OF VENICE, (act v. scene 1.,) is also one of the topics of Cicero, in this same philosophical fragment; so that it is probable that the Poet may have drawn that, as well as this poetic notion of the old philosophy, from the same source. If it is not allowed that he could read the original, yet he might have read Newton's translation, which was "turned into English" in 1577.
Nature dispenses with the deed so far," etc. "One of the most dramatic passages in the present play, (says Hazlitt, in his Characters of Shakespeare's Plays,') is the interview between Claudio and his sister, when she comes to inform him of the conditions on which Angelo will spare his life. What adds to the dramatic beauty of the scene, and the effect of Claudio's passionate attachment to life, is that it immediately follows the Duke's lecture to him, in the character of the Friar, recommending an absolute indifference to it." The attempt of Claudio to prove to his sister that the loss of her chastity, upon such an occasion, will be a virtue, is finely characteristic of the profound knowledge Shakespeare possessed of the intricate complexities of the human heart. "Shakespeare was, in one sense, the least moral of all writers, (says Hazlitt;) for morality (commonly so called) is made up of antipathies; and his talent consisted in sympathy with human nature, in all its shapes, degrees, depressions, and elevations. The object of the pedantic moralist is to find out the bad in every thing: his was to show that there is some soul of goodness in things evil.'" With reference to the representation of such scenes on the stage, Schlegel observes:-"It is certainly to be wished that decency should be observed on all public occasions, and consequently also on the stage; but even in this it is possible to go too far. That censorious spirit, which scents out impurity in every sally of a bold and vivacious description, is at best but an ambiguous criterion of purity of morals; and there is frequently concealed under this hypocrisy the consciousness of an impure imagination. The determination to tolerate nothing which has the least reference to the sensual relation between the two sexes may be carried to a pitch extremely oppressive to a dramatic poet, and injurious to the boldness and freedom of his composition. If considerations of such a nature were to be attended to, many of the happiest parts of the plays of Shakespeare, for example, in MEASURE FOR MEASURE, and ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL, which are handled with a due regard to decency, must be set aside for their impropriety.'
-a WARPED slip of WILDERNESS"-i. e. Wildness-a wild "slip," not proceeding from the grafted stock. Beaumont and Fletcher, Decker, and Milton, "wilderness" in the same sense.