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And flies filed under shade, Why, then, the thing
of courage, As rous'd with rage, with rage doth sympathize, And with an accent turn'd in self-same key, Returns to chiding fortune.8 Ulyss.
Agamemnon,Thou great commander, nerve and bone of Greece, Heart of our numbers, soul and only spirit, In whom the tempers and the minds of all Should be shut up,-hear what Ulysses speaks. Besides the applause and approbation The which, -most mighty for thy placeand sway,
[To AGAMEMNON. And thou most reverend for thy stretch'd-out life,
[To NESTOR. I give to both your speeches,—which were such, As Agamemnon and the hand of Greece Should hold up high in brass; and such again, As venerable Nestor, hatch'd in silver,
And flies fled under shade,] i. e. And flies are filed under shade. I have observed similar omissions in the works of many of our author's contemporaries. MALONE.
the thing of courage,] It is said of the tiger, that in storms and high winds he rages and roars most furiously.
HANMER. & Returns to chiding fortune.] For returns, Hanmer reads replies, unnecessarily, the sense being the same. The folio and .quarto have retires, corruptly. Johnson. So, in King Richard II: “ Northumberland, say—thus the king returns ;-"
STEEVENS. The emendation was made by Mr. Pope. Chiding is noisy, clamorous. So, in King Henry VIII:
“ As doth a rock against the chiding flood." See p. 127, n. 6. MALONE. See also Vol. IV. p. 450, n. 5. STEEVENS.
Should with a bond of air (strong as the axletree On which heaven rides,) knit all the Greekish ears To his experienc’dtongue,'—yetletit please both,
axletree-] This word was anciently contracted into a dissyllable. Thus in Beaumont and Fletcher's Bonduca :
when the mountain
-knit all the Greekish ears To his experienc'd tongue,] Ulysses begins his oration with praising those who had spoken before him, and marks the characteristick excellencies of their different eloquence,--strength, and sweetness, which he expresses by the different metals on which he recommends them to be engraven for the instruction of posterity. The speech of Agamemnon is such that it ought to be engraven in brass, and the tablet held up by him on the one side, and Greece on the other, to show the union of their opinion. And Nestor ought to be exhibited in silver, uniting all his audience in one mind by his soft and gentle elocution. Brass is the common emblem of strength, and silver of gentle
We call a soft voice a silver voice, and a persuasive tongue a silver tongue. I once read for hand, the band of Greece, but I think the text right. To hatch is a term of art for a particular method of engraving. Hacher, to cut, Fr.
JOHNSON. In the description of Agamemnon's speech, there is a plain allusion to the old custom of engraving laws and publick records in brass, and hanging up the tables in temples, and other places of general resort. Our author has the same allusion in Measure for Measure, Act V. sc. i. The Duke, speaking of the merit of Angelo and Escalus, says, that
it deserves with characters of brass
“ And razure of oblivion So far therefore is clear. Why Nestor is said to be hatch'd in silver, is much more obscure. I once thought that we ought to ready-thatch'd in silver, alluding to his silver hair; the same
Thou great, -and wise,—to hear Ulysses speak.
metaphor being used by Timon, Act IV. sc. iv. to Phryne and Timandra:
thatch your poor thin roofs “ With burthens of the dead." But I know not whether the present reading may not be understood to convey the same allusion; as I find, that the species of engraving, called hatching, was particularly used in the hilts of swords. See Cotgrave in v. Haché; hacked, &c. also, Hatched, as the hilt of a sword ; and in v. Hacher ; to hacke, &c. also, to hatch a hilt. Beaumont and Fletcher's Custom of the Country, Vol. II.
“ Hatch'd in the life of him As to what follows, if the reader should have no more conception than I have, of
a bond of air, strong as the axle-tree 66 On which heaven rides he will perhaps excuse me for hazarding a conjecture, that the true reading may possibly be:
- a bond of awe, The expression is used by Fairfax, in his 4th Eclogue, Muses Library, p. 368:
“ Unty these bonds of awe and cords of duty.” After all, the construction of this passage
harsh and irregular ; but with that I meddle not, believing it was left so by the author. TYRWHITT.
Perhaps no alteration is necessary: hatch'd in silver, may mean, whose white hair and beard make him look like a figure engraved on silver.
The word is metaphorically used by Heywood, in The Iron Age, 1632: 66
his face “ Is hatch'd with impudency three-fold thick.” And again, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Humorous Lieutenant :
" His weapon hatch'd in blood."
“ Double and treble gilt,-
not to be worn with time.” Again, more appositely, in Love in a Maze, 1632 :
“ Thy hair is fine as gold, thy chin is hatch'd
“ With silver Again, in Chapman's version of the 23d Iliad:
6. Shall win this sword, silver'd and hatch'd ;—."
AGAM. Speak, prince of Ithaca ; and be't of
The voice of Nestor, which on all occasions enforced attention, might be, I think, not unpoetically called, a bond of air, because its operations were visible, though his voice, like the wind, was unseen. STEEVENS.
In a newspaper of the day, intitled The Newes published for Satisfaction and Information of the People, Nov. 12, 1663, No. XI. p. 86, is advertized, “ Lost, in Scotland Yard, a broad sword hatcht with silver.” REED.
In the following verses in our author's Rape of Lucrece, nearly the same picture of Nestor is given. The fifth line of the first stanza may lead us to the true interpretation of the words hatch'd in silver. In a subsequent passage the colour of the old man's beard is again mentioned ;
“ I'll hide my silver beard in a gold beaver.” Dr. Johnson therefore is undoubtedly mistaken in supposing that there is any allusion to the soft voice or silver tongue of Nestor. The poet, however, might mean not merely that Nestor looked like a figure engraved in silver (as Mr. Steevens supposes)}; but that he should actually be so engraved.
With respect to the breath or speech of Nestor, here called a bond of air, it is so truly Shakspearian, that I have not the smallest doubt of the genuineness of the expression. Shakspeare frequently calls words wind, and air. So, in one of his poems :
sorrow ebbs, being blown with wind of words.” Again, in Romeo and Juliet :
“ Three civil broils, bred of an airy word.” Again, more appositely, in Much Ado about Nothing:
“ Charm ache with air, and agony with words." The verses above alluded to are these :
“ There pleading you might see grave Nestor stand,
That matter needless, of importless burden,
What is here called speech that beguild attention, is in the text a bond of air ; i. e. breath, or words that strongly enforced the attention of his auditors. In the same poem we find a kindred expression :
“ Feast-finding minstrels, tuning my defame,
66 Will tie the hearers to attend each line." Again, more appositely, in Drayton's Mortimeriados, 4to. no date :
Torlton, whose tongue men's ears in chains could bind.” The word knit, which alone remains to be noticed, is often used by Shakspeare in the same manner. So, in Macbeth : to the which
" For ever knit.” Again, in Othello : “ I have profess'd me thy friend, and I confess me knit to thy deserving with cables of perdurable toughness.”
A passage in Puttenham's Arte of English Poesie, 1589, may illustrate that before us : “ Whether now persuasions may not be said violent and forcible, especially to simple myndes, in special I refer to all men's judgement that hear the story. At least waies I finde this opinion confirmed by a pretie devise or embleme that Lucianus alleageth he saw in the portrait of Hercules within the citie of Marseilles in Provence; where they had figured a lustie old man with a long chayne tyed by one end at his tong, by the other end at the people's eares, who stood afar off, and seemed to be drawen to him by force of that chayne fastened to his tong; as who would say, by force of his persua
“ He said ; and silence all their tongues contain'd
“ Their ears had long been to him.” STEEVENS. * Thou great,—and wise, ] This passage is sense as it stands; yet I have little doubt that Shakspeare wrote
Though great and wise, M. Mason. • Agam. Speak, &c.] This speech is not in the quarto.
JOHNSON. expect-] Expect for expectation. Thus, in our author's works, we have suspect for suspicion, &c. Steevens.