Графични страници
PDF файл
[ocr errors]


Ros. It is not the fashion to see the lady the epilogue; but it is no more unhandsome, than to see the lord the prologue. If it be true, that good wine needs no bush, 'tis true that a good play needs no epilogue; yet to good wine they do use good bushes, and good plays prove the better by the help of good epilogues. What a case am I in, then, that am neither a good epilogue, nor cannot insinuate with you in the behalf of a good play? I am not furnished like a beggar, therefore to beg will not become me my way is, to conjure you; and I'll begin with the women. I charge you, 0 women! for the love you bear to men, to like as much of this play as please you: and I charge you, O men! for the love you bear to women, (as I perceive by your simpering none of you hates them,) that between you and the women, the play_may please. an, I would kiss

If I were a wom

[blocks in formation]
[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]



"As I remember, Adam"-This is printed as it stands in the old copies, and certainly gives the effect of colloquial ease and the careless phraseology of familiar dialogue, referring to something that had been said before. Several later editors have thought proper to give it a more formal and grammatical character, by correcting the reading in various ways. Thus, Johnson-" As I remember, Adam, it was upon this fashion bequeathed me. By will," etc. Blackstone suggests-"He bequeathed." We agree, with Caldecott, that "the old text is in the true spirit of all dialogue on such an occasion."



his COUNTENANCE"-i. e. His behaviour, his bearing. A "countenance" (says Johnson) may be good or bad.


be NAUGHT awhile"-In Ben Jonson's "Tale of a Tub" we have

Peace and be naught! I think the woman's phrensic. In his "Bartholomew Fair" we find-" Leave the bottle behind you, and be curst awhile." There are many examples in the old dramatists which clearly show that "be naught," or be nought, was a petty malediction; and thus Oliver says no more than-Be better employed, and be hanged to you. This is the substance of Gifford's note upon the passage in "Bartholomew Fair."

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

"the forest of Arden"-Shakespeare was furnished with the principal scene in this play by Lodge's novel. Arden (or Ardenne) is a forest of considerable extent, near the Meuse, and between Charlemont and Rocroy. It is mentioned by Spenser, in his "Colin Clout," as famous "Ardeyn;" and in recent times is thus characterized by Lady Morgan:-"The forest of Ardennes smells of early English poetry. It has all the green-wood freshness of Shakespeare's scenes; and it is scarcely possible

to feel the truth and beauty of his exquisite As You LIKE IT, without having loitered, as I have done, amid its tangled glens and magnificent depths."

"of all sorts enchantingly beloved"-"It is too venturous to charge a passage in SHAKESPEARE with want of truth to nature; and yet at first sight this speech of Oliver's expresses truths which it seems almost impossible that any mind should so distinctly, so livelily, and so voluntarily, have presented to itself in connection with feelings and intentions so malignant and so contrary to those which the qualities expressed would naturally have called forth. But I dare not say that this seeming unnaturalness is not in the nature of an abused wilfulness, when united with a strong intellect. In such characters there is sometimes a gloomy self-gratification in making the absoluteness of the will (sit pro ratione voluntas!) evident to themselves by setting the reason and the conscience in full array against it."-COLERIDGE.

[blocks in formation]

the old man and his two sons. Lodge, in his "Rosalynde," calls the father a "lustie franklin of the country," with "two tall men that were his sonnes" and they would properly be furnished with "bills on their necks," or halberds, commonly carried by foresters; and Rosalind immediately misinterprets the word "bills," as if it meant public notices-" Be it known to all men by these presents." However, the old copies give the words to Rosalind, who may still very naturally play upon the double sense of the word bills.


- broken MUSIC in his sides"-" Rosalind hints at a

whimsical similitude between the series of ribs, gradually shortening, and some musical instruments; and therefore calls broken ribs 'broken music.'"-JOHNSON.

"This probably alludes to the pipe of Pan, which, consisting of reeds of unequal length, and gradually lessening, bore some resemblance to the ribs of a man."MALONE.

[ocr errors]

“—if you saw yourself with YOUR eyes”—Coleridge says, "Surely we should read our eyes, and our judgment." But Dr. Johnson interprets the passage according to the original: "if you used your own eyes to see, or your own judgment to know yourself, the fear of your own adventure would counsel you."

"a QUINTAINE"-A " quintaine" was originally a wooden object, generally in the figure of a man, used in martial exercises, as a mark against which weapons were directed. It afterwards became a sport, and was such in the time of Shakespeare. The origin and use of the "quintaine" are thus described in the "Pictorial History of England :”—

The lifeless block is clearly an allusion to the wooden man thus described. The quintaine" was, however, often formed only of a broad plank on one side of the pivot, with a sand-bag suspended on the other side.



"the SMALLER is his daughter"-The old copies have taller, which is certainly wrong, because Rosalind, in the next scene, says that she is "more than common tall." Pope altered it to shorter; but "smaller" comes nearer to the old reading, and we may add that shorter and daughter read dissonantly.

"A pole or spear was set upright in the ground, with a shield strongly bound to it; and against this the youth tilted with his lance in full career, endeavouring to burst the ligatures of the shield, and bear it to the earth. A steady aim and a firm seat were acquired from this exercise; a severe fall being often the consequence of failure in the attempt to strike down the shield. This, however, at the best, was but a monotonous exercise; and therefore the pole, in process of time, was supplanted by the more stimulating figure of a misbelieving Saracen, armed at all points, and brandishing a formidable wooden sabre. The puppet moved freely upon a pivot, or spindle, so that, unless it was struck with the lance adroitly in the centre of the face or breast, it rapidly revolved; and the sword, in consequence, smote In the first act, Charles the Wrestler, describing the the back of the assailant in his career, amid the laugh-lessly as they did in the golden world." Duke and his co-mates, says, they fleet the time careOne of the ter of the spectators." characteristics of the golden world is thus described by Daniel:

Here feel we not the penalty of Adam?


my CHILD'S FATHER"-This is according to the old copies; "for the father of my children, if I ever have any"'-an idea which has been thought indelicate. Coleridge maintains that we ought to read, my father's child, which had, on Rowe's suggestion, been adopted in many editions.

[blocks in formation]

The change of "not" to but was made by Theobald, who says, "What was the penalty of Adam hinted at by our Poet? The being sensible of the difference of the seasons. The Duke says, the cold and effects of the winter feelingly persuade him what he is. How does he not then feel the penalty?" Boswell and Caldecott reply, "Surely the old reading is right. Here we feel not, do not suffer from, the penalty of Adam, the seasons' difference; for when the winter's wind blows upon my body, I smile, and say," etc.;-which seems very satisfactory. But Mr. Knight, following an ingenious suggestion of Whiter, retains the words of the

folio, but changes the punctuation, thus:—

Here feel we not the penalty of Adam.
The seasons' difference,-as, the icy fang,
And churlish chiding of the winter's wind,
Which when it bites and blows upon my body,
Even till I shrink with cold, I smile, and say
This is no flattery,-these are counsellors, etc.

Although this reading strikes my ear as harsh and discordant to the general melody of this speech, and is broken into such pauses and interrupted sense as the Poet is wont to use only when strong passion is meant to be expressed, yet the argument of Whiter and Knight is so ingenious, and contains so much of beautiful illustration, that I cannot omit it:-"We ask, what is the penalty of Adam?' All the commentators say, 'the seasons' difference.' On the contrary, it was, 'In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.' Milton represents the repentant Adam as thus interpreting the penalty :

On me the curse aslope
Glanced on the ground; with labour I must earn
My bread; what harm? Idleness had been worse.
The beautiful passage in Cowper's 'Task,' describing
the Thresher, will also occur to the reader :-

See him sweating o'er his bread,
Before he eats it. 'Tis the primal curse,
But soften'd into mercy; made the pledge
Of cheerful days, and nights without a groan.

'The seasons' difference,' it must be remembered, was ordained before the fall, and was in no respect a penalty. We may therefore reject the received interpretation. But how could the Duke say, receiving the passage in the sense we have suggested

Oh! happy golden age!
Not for that rivers ran

With streams of milk and honey dropp'd from trees;

Not that the earth did gage

Unto the husbandman

Her voluntary fruits, free without fees.

The song of Amiens, in the fifth scene of this act, conveys, we think, the same allusion

Who doth ambition shun,
And loves to live i' the sun,
Seeking the food he eats,
And pleas'd with what he gets.


The exil'd courtiers led a life without toil-a life in
which they were contented with a little-and they were
thus exempt from the penalty of Adam.' We close,
therefore, the sentence at Adam.' The seasons' dif-
ference' is now the antecedent of these are counsel-
lors;' the freedom of construction common to Shake-
speare and the poets of his time fully warranting this
acceptation of the reading. In this way, the Duke
saysThe differences of the seasons are counsellors
that teach me what I am;-as, for example, the winter's
wind-which, when it blows upon my body, I smile,
and say, this is no flattery.' We may add that, imme-
diately following the lines we have quoted from the
'Paradise Lost,' Adam alludes to the seasons' differ-
ence,' but in no respect as part of the curse—

With labour I must earn
My bread; what harm? Idleness had been worse;

My labour will sustain me; and lest cold
Or heat should injure us, his timely care
Hath unbesought provided, and his hands
Cloth'd us unworthy, pitying while He judg'd.
How much more, if we pray Him, will his ear
Be open, and his heart to pity incline,
And teach us further by what means to shun
Th' inclement seasons, rain, ice, hail, and snow."

the toad, ugly and venomous, Wears yet a precious jewel in his head," etc. "It has been supposed that the 'precious jewel' refers only to the brilliancy of the toad's eyes, as contrasted with its ugly form. But there can be no doubt it referred to a common superstition, with which Shakespeare's audience was familiar. This, like many other vulgar errors, is ancient and universal. Pliny tells us of the wonderful qualities of a bone found in the right side of a toad. In India, it is a common notion that some species of serpents have precious stones in their heads. Our old credulous writers upon natural history, who dwelt with delight upon 'notable things' and 'secret wonders,' are as precise about the toad's stone as a modern geologist is about quartz. Edward Fenton, in 1569, tells us there is found in heads of old and great toads a stone which they call borax, or stelon: it is most commonly found in the head of a he-toad.' These toadstones, it should seem, were not only specifics against poison, when taken internally, but being used in rings gave forewarning against venom.' There were, of course, many counterfeit stones, procured by a much easier process than that of toad-hunting; but the old lapidaries had an infallible mode of discovering the true from the false. You shall know whether the toadstone be the right and perfect stone or not. Hold the stone before a toad, so that he may see it; and if it be a right and true stone the toad will leap toward it, and make as though he would snatch it. He envieth so much that man should have that stone.' Shakespeare, in the passage before us, has taken the superstition out of the hands of the ignorant believers in its literality, and has transmuted it into a poetical truth."-STEVENS and KNIGHT.


"this DESERT CITY"-Our Poet may have derived this thought from two lines in "Montanus's Sonnet," in Lodge's "Rosalynde:"—

About her wond'ring stood
The citizens of the wood.

"— with FORKED heads"-i. e. The "forked," or barbed, "heads" of arrows.


"Under an oak, whose antique root peeps out"-In his lectures, in 1818, Coleridge eloquently and justly praised the pastoral beauty and simplicity of As You LIKE IT; but he did not attempt to compare it with Lodge's "Rosalynde," where the descriptions of persons and of scenery are comparatively forced and artificial:-"Shakespeare (said Coleridge) never gives a description of rustic scenery merely for its own sake, or to show how well he can paint natural objects: he is never tedious or elaborate; but while he now and then displays marvellous accuracy and minuteness of knowledge, he usually only touches upon the larger features and broader characteristics, leaving the fillings up to the imagination. Thus, in AS YOU LIKE IT, he describes an oak of many centuries' growth in a single line

Under an oak, whose antique root peeps out. Other and inferior writers would have dwelled on this description, and worked it out with all the pettiness and impertinence of detail. In SHAKESPEARE, the antique root' furnishes the whole picture."

These expressions are from notes made at the time, by Mr. Collier. They serve partially to supply an obvious deficiency of general criticism on this play, in Coleridge's "Literary Remains."

"-needless stream"-i. e. That needed no such ac


- his velvet FRIEND"-Thus the old editions, but the common modern reading was friends, until Calde

cott and Knight adopted Whiter's criticism-"the singu. lar is often used for the plural with a sense more abstracted, and therefore, in many instances, more poetical."-"Specimen of a Commentary."

"KILL them up"-In the same way Shakespeare has flatter up, stifle up, poisons up.

"COPE him"-i. e. Encounter him.


"— a DIVERTED blood"-" Affections alienated and turned out of their natural course; as a stream of water is said to be diverted."-CALDECOTT.

"too late a WEEK"-i. e. An indefinite period, but still a short period-somewhat too late.


66 Clown, alias TOUCHSTONE"-We follow Collier in restoring the old stage-direction, as more characteristic than the modernized one-" Rosalind in boy's clothes, Celia dressed like a shepherdess."


- how WEARY are my spirits”—In the old copies it stands, "how merry are my spirits!"-an easy misprint; and that it was so seems shown by the answer of Touchstone, "I care not for my spirits, if my legs were not weary." "Weary" has been adopted by all except Caldecott and Knight, who retain merry, agreeing with Whiter, who suggests that Rosalind was assuming good spirits, as well as male attire; and would therefore say, "how merry are my spirits!" But why should she assume good spirits here to Celia, when, in the very next sentence she utters, she says that her spirits are so bad that she could almost cry?

"I should bear no CROSS"-Touchstone plays upon the double meaning of "cross," for an evil, a misfor tune, and also a piece of money stamped with a cross.

- kissing of her BATLER"-The bat used in washing linen in a stream.

"-from whom I took two CODS"-i. e. From his mistress. He took from her two peascods-i. e. two pods. We find the pod or cod of the pea used as an ornament in the robe of Richard II., in his monument in Westminster Abbey.

[blocks in formation]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

Till that the wearie verie meanes do ebbe?-
which Pope altered thus, all the editors but Caldecott
following him :-

my TAXING"-i. e. Censure, reproach.

"-yet am I INLAND bred"-The word occurs again in act iii. scene 2-"who was in his youth an inland man." "Inland" was generally used, in old writers, in opposition to upland, which is explained in Minshew's Dictionary as "unbred, rude, rustical, clownish."

"some NURTURE"-i. e. Education.

"WHEREIN we play IN"-Pleonasms of this kind were by no means uncommon in the writers of Shakespeare's age:-"I was afearde to what end his talke would come to.'-(Baret.) In CORIOLANUS, (act ii. scene 1:)

In what enormity is Marcius poor in.
And in ROMEO AND JULIET, (act i. Chorus :)-
That fair for which love groan'd for.

"His acts being SEVEN AGES"-In the old play of "Damon and Pythias," we have-"Pythagoras said, that this world was like a stage whereon many play their parts." And in the legend of "Orpheus and Euridice," (1597 :)

-Unhappy man

Whose life a sad continuall tragedie,
Himself the actor, in the world, the stage,

While as the acts are measured by his age.


In the "Treasury of Ancient and Modern Times," (1613,) is a division of the life of man into seven ages, said to be taken from Proclus; and it appears, from Brown's "Vulgar Errors," that Hippocrates also divided man's life into seven degrees, or stages, though he dif fers from Proclus in the number of years allotted to each stage. Dr. Henley mentions an old emblematical print, entitled the "Stage of Man's Life divided into Seven Ages," from which he thinks Shakespeare more likely to have taken his hint than from Hippocrates, or Proclus; but he does not tell us that this print was of Shakespeare's age. Stevens refers to the "Totus Mundus Exerceat Histrionia" of Petronius, with whom probably the sentiment originated. Shakespeare has again referred to it in the MERCHANT OF VENICE:

[blocks in formation]

Till that the very very means do ebb?
The older meaning is clear, as Whiter interprets it-
"Till the very means, wearied out, do ebb." Collier
strangely suggests Jaques to be railing against pride and
excess of apparel, and the words to be, that "the very
wearing means," or means of wearing fine clothes, "do
ebb." To read "very, very," with Pope and others, is Again, in MEASURE FOR MEASURE-
not like Shakespeare's diction.

Through the velvet leaves the wind
All unseen 'gan passage find.

To be imprison'd in the viewless winds.

"Re-enter ORLANDO, with ADAM"-"Adam' is a character in The Coke's Tale of Gamelyn,' and in Lodge's Rosalynde;' and a great additional interest attaches to it, because it is supposed, with some appearance of truth, that the part was originally sustained by Shakespeare himself. We have this statement on the authority of Oldys's MSS.: he is said to have derived it. intermediately of course, from Gilbert Shakespeare, who survived the Restoration, and who had a faint recollec tion of having seen his brother William in 'one of his own comedies, wherein, being to personate a decrepit old man, he wore a long beard, and appeared so weak and drooping, and unable to walk, that he was forced to be supported and carried by another person to a table, at which he was seated among some company, who were eating, and one of them sung a song.' This description tallies with As You LIKE IT."-COLLIER.

[ocr errors]

"Because thou art seen"-Johnson thus explains this line, which some editors have thought misprinted :"Thou winter wind, (says Amiens,) thy rudeness gives the less pain, as thou art not seen, as thou art an enemy that dost not brave us with thy presence, and whose unkindness is therefore not aggravated by insult." The invisibility of the active agency of the wind is a frequent idea in our poets. So, in the "Sonnet" in LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST

"Though thou the waters WARP"-This word "warp" has called forth much philological and critical discussion. Our American lexicographer, Noah Webster, boldly pronounces that "to warp water in Shakespeare is forced and unnatural-indeed it is not English." Yet it certainly was good old Saxon, which ought to have commended it to Mr. Webster's favour; and it may, as familiar Saxon, have most probably been familiar OldEnglish in our Poet's time. Holt White quotes from Hickes's "Thesaurus" the same phrase, in an AngloSaxon adage, "Winter sceal geweorpan weden"-Winter shall warp water. To warp, in the Poet's day, still had the sense which is now retained only in the substantive warp, in weaving. It is so explained by his contemporary, Florio, in his Dictionary, as answering to the Italian ordire, (to weave ;) and Cotgrave, in his French Dictionary of the same period, uses it to explain ourdir. Nares (Glossary) quotes from Sternhold's "Psalms," "while he doth mischief warp;" and again, "such wicked wiles to warp"-when a modern poet would have used weave. The phrase then, without any forced metaphor,

« ПредишнаНапред »