Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

PAR. Sir, I propose not merely to myself The pleasures such a beauty brings with it; But I would have the soil of her fair rapeo Wip'd off, in honourable keeping her. What treason were it to the ransack'd queen, Disgrace to your great worths, and shame to me, Now to deliver her possession up, On terms of base compulsion? Can it be, That so degenerate a strain as this, Should once set footing in your generous bosoms? There's not the meanest spirit on our party, Without a heart to dare, or sword to draw, When Helen is defended; nor none so noble, Whose life were ill bestow'd, or death unfam'd, Where Helen is the subject : then, I say, Well may we fight for her, whom, we know well, The world's large spaces cannot parallel.

HECT. Paris, and Troilus, you have both said

well ;

And on the cause and question now in hand
Have gloz’d,—but superficially ; not much
Unlike young men, whom Aristotle thought

[ocr errors]

viii. 14:

her fair rape-] Rape, in our author's time, commonly signified the carrying away of a female. Malone.

It has always borne that, as one of its significations; raptus Helena (without any idea of personal violence) being constantly rendered the

rape

of Helen. STEEVENS. Have gloz’d,] So, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, Book III.

could well his glozing speeches frame." To gloze, in this instance, means to insinuate ; but, in Shakspeare, to comment. So, in King Henry V:

“ Which Salique land the French unjustly gloze

“ To be the realm of France.” STEEVENS. --Aristotle-] Let it be remembered, as often as Shakspeare's anachronisms occur, that errors in computing time were

8

Unfit to hear moral philosophy :
The reasons, you allege, do more conduce
To the hot passion of distemper'd blood,
Than to make up a free determination
'Twixt right and wrong; For pleasure, and revenge,
Have ears more deaf than adders to the voice
Of any true decision. Nature craves,
All dues be render'd to their owners; Now
What nearer debt in all humanity,
Than wife is to the husband ? if this law
Of nature be corrupted through affection ;
And that great minds, of partial indulgence
To their benumbed wills, resist the same;

1

very frequent in those ancient romances which seem to have formed the greater part of his library. I may add, that even classick authors are not exempt from such mistakes. In the fifth Book of Statius's Thebaid, Amphiaraus talks of the fates of Nestor and Priam, neither of whom died till long after him. If on this occasion, somewhat should be attributed to his augural profession, yet if he could so freely mention, nay, even quote as examples to the whole army, things that would not happen till the next age, they must all have been prophets as well as himself, or they could not have understood him,

Hector's mention of Aristotle, however, (during our ancient propensity to quote the authorities of the learned on every occasion) is not more absurd than the following circumstance in The Dialogues of Creatures Moralysed, bl. l. no date, (a book which Shakspeare might have seen,) where we find God Almighty quoting Cato. See Dial. IV. I may add, on this subject, that during an altercation between Noah and his Wife, in one of the Chester Whitsun Playes, the Lady swears by-Christ and Saint John. STEEVENS, more deaf than adders-] See Vol. XIII. p. 283, n. 4.

STEEVENS. of partial indulgence-] i. e. through partial indulgence. M. Mason.

benumbed wills,] That is, inflexible, immoveable, no longer obedient to superior direction. Johnson.

9

1

9

There is a law3 in each well-order'd nation,
To curb those raging appetites that are
Most disobedient and refractory.
If Helen then be wife to Sparta's king,
As it is known she is,-these moral laws
Of nature, and of nations, speak aloud
To have her back return'd: Thus to persist
In doing wrong, extenuates not wrong,
But makes it much more heavy. Hector's opinion
Is this, in way of truth : 4 yet, ne'ertheless,
My spritely brethren, I propend to you
In resolution to keep Helen still ;
For 'tis a cause that hath no mean dependance
Upon our joint and several dignities.
Tro. Why, there you touch'd the life of our de-

sign:
Were it not glory that we more affected
Than the performance of our heaving spleens,
I would not wish a drop of Trojan blood
Spent more in her defence. But, worthy Hector,
She is a theme of honour and renown;
A spur to valiant and magnanimous deeds ;
Whose present courage may beat down our foes,
And fame, in time to come, canonize us : 6
For, I presume, brave Hector would not lose

3 There is a law-] What the law does in every nation between individuals, justice ought to do between nations.

JOHNSON. * Is this, in way of truth: ] Though considering truth and justice in this question, this is my opinion; yet as a question of honour, I think on it as you. JOHNSON.

s the performance of our heaving spleens,] The execution of spirit and resentment. Johnson.

canonize us :] The hope of being registered as a saint, is rather out of its place at so early a period, as this is of the Trojan war.

STEEVENS.

6

I am yours,

So rich advantage of a promis'd glory,
As smiles upon the forehead of this action,
For the wide world's revenue.

HECT.
You valiant offspring of great Priamus.-
I have a roisting challenge sent amongst
The dull and factious nobles of the Greeks,
Will strike amazement to their drowsy spirits :
I was advertis’d, their great general slept,
Whilst emulation in the army crept;
This, I presume, will wake him, [Exeunt.

SCENE III.

The Grecian Camp. Before Achilles' Tent.

Enter THERSITES.

THER. How now, Thersites? what, lost in the labyrinth of thy fury? Shall the elephant Ajax carry it thus ? he beats me, and I rail at him : 0 worthy satisfaction!'would, it were otherwise; that I could beat him, whilst he railed at me : 'Sfoot, I'll learn to conjure and raise devils, but I'll see some issue of my spiteful execrations. Then there's

7- emulation-] That is, envy, factious contention.

JOHNSON. Emulation is now never used in an ill sense; but Shakspeare meant to employ it so.

He has used the same with more propriety in a former scene, by adding epithets that ascertain its meaning:

so every step,
“ Exampled by the first pace that is sick
“ Of his superior, grows to an envious fever
“ Of pale and bloodless emulation.MALONE,

Achilles,-a rare engineer. If Troy be not taken till these two undermine it, the walls will stand till they fall of themselves. Othou great thunderdarter of Olympus, forget that thou art Jove the king of gods; and, Mercury, lose all the serpentine craft of thy Caduceus ;9 if ye take not that little little less-than-little wit from them that they have! which short-armed ignorance itself knows is so abundant scarce, it will not in circumvention deliver a fly from a spider, without drawing their massy irons, and cutting the web. After this, the vengeance on the whole camp! or, rather, the boneache!' for that, methinks, is the curse dependant

9

a rare engineer.] The old copies have-enginer, which was the old spelling of engineer. So, truncheoner, pioner, mutiner, sonneter, &c. MALONE.

the serpentine craft of thy Caduceus ;] The wand of Mercury is wreathed with serpents. So Martial, Lib. VII. Epig. Ixxiv:

Cyllenes cælique decus ! facunde minister,

Aurea cui torto virga dracone viret. STEEVENS. - without drawing their massy irons,] That is, without drawing their swords to cut the web. They use no means but those of violence. Johnson.

Thus the quarto. The folio reads—the massy irons. In the late editions iron has been substituted for irons, the word found in the old copies, and certainly the true reading. So, in King Richard III:

“ Put in their hands thy bruising irons of wrath,
“ That they may crush down with a heavy fall

“ The usurping helmets of our adversaries.” Malone. Bruising irons, in this quotation, as Mr. Henley has well observed in loco, signify—maces, weapons formerly used by our English cavalry. See Grose on ancient Armour, p. 53.

STEEVENS. : the bone-ache !] In the quarto--the Neapolitan boneache! JOHNSON.

« AnteriorContinuar »