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Yet sometimes falls an orient drop beside,
O hard-believing love, how strange it seems
Not to believe, and yet too credulous!
Thy weal and woe are both of them extremes;
Despair and hope make thee ridiculous:
The one doth flatter thee in thoughts unlikely,
Now she unweaves the web that she hath wrought;
She clepes him king of graves, and grave for kings;
Imperious supreme3 of all mortal things.
9 — the sluttish Ground,
Malone. 1 In likely thoughts—] Thus the first copy!593. In that of 1596, we find—" The likely thoughts," the compositor having caught the word The from the preceding line; an error not unfrequent at the press. This being found nonsense; in the edition of 1600, With was substituted at random for The: and such is the ordinary progress of corruption in the second folio edition of our author's plays, and in many of the later quarto editions; that is, in all which followed the first quarto of each play. Malone.
1 Now she adds Honours —] So the quarto 1593, and 16mo. of 1596; for which the edition of 1600 has given honour; and the corruption was adopted in all the subsequent copies. The various honours of death are enumerated in a subsequent stanza:"Tell him of trophies, statues, tombs and stories,"His victories, his triumphs, and his glories." Malone. 3 Imperious supreme —] So the first quarto, and the edition of 1596. That of 1600 reads Imperial. The original is the true reading, and had formerly the same meaning. So, in Troilus and Cressida:
"I thank thee, most imperious Agamemnon."
No, no, (quoth she,) sweet Death, I did but jest;
Tis not my fault: the boar provok'd my tongue;
Be wreak'd on him, invisible commander5;
'Tis he, foul creature, that hath done thee wrong;
I did but act, he's author of thy slander6:
Grief hath two tongues, and never woman yet
Thus hoping that Adonis is alive,
From the same ignorance of Shakspeare's language imperial was substituted for imperious in Hamlet, and various other plays of our author. Malone,
* When As I met the boar,—] When as and when were used indiscriminately by our ancient writers. Malone.
s — invisible commander ;] So, in King John: "Death, having prey'd upon the outward parts, "Leaves them invisible; and his siege is now "Against the mind." Malone. 6 I did but act, he's author of thy Slander :] I was but an agent and merely ministerial: he was the real mover and author of the reproaches with which I slandered thee. Malone.
? Her rash Suspect she doth extenuate;] Suspect is suspicion. So, in our author's 70th Sonnet:
"The ornament of beauty is suspect." Malone.
* With death she humbly doth Insinuate ;] To insinuate meant formerly, to sooth, to flatter. To insinuate with was the phraseology of Shakspeare's time. So, in Twelfth Night:"Desire him not toflatter with his lord." Malone. » Tells him of statues, trophies, Tombs,] As Venus is here bribing Death with flatteries to spare Adonis, the editors could not
O Jove, quoth she, how much a fool was I,
For he being dead, with him is beauty slain2,
Fie, fie, fond love, thou art so full of fear,
As one with treasure laden, hemm'd with thieves;
Trifles, unwitnessed with eye or ear,
Thy coward heart with false bethinking grieves4.
help thinking of pompous tombs. But tombs are no honour to Death, considered as a being, but to the parties buried. I much suspect our author intended:
"Tells him of trophies, statues, domes —." Theobald. The old copy is undoubtedly right. Tombs are in one sense honours to Death, inasmuch as they are so many memorials of his triumphs over mortals. Besides, the idea of a number of tombs naturally presents to our mind the dome or building that contains them ; so that nothing is obtained by the change.
As Mr. Theobald never published an edition of Shakspeare's poems, the reader may perhaps wonder where his observations upon them have been found. They are inserted in the second volume of Dr. Jortin's Miscellaneous Observations on Authors, 8vo. 1731. Malone. '— and Stories His victories, his triumphs, and his glories.] This verb is also used in The Rape of Lucrece:
"He stories to her ears her husband's fame—." Again, in Cymbeline: "How worthy he is, I will leave to appear hereafter, rather than story him in his own hearing." Malone. 1 For he being dead, with him is beauty slain,] So, in Romeo and Juliet:
"O, she is rich in beauty; only poor,
"That, when she dies, with beauty dies her store." Malone. 3 And, beauty dead, Black Chaos Comes Again.] The same expression occurs in Othello:
"Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my soul, "But I do love thee! and when I love thee not, "Chaos is come again." Malone. « Trifles, unwitnessed with eye or ear, Thy coward heart with false bethinking grieves.] So, in, Othello:
Even at this word she hears a merry horn,
As faulcon to the lure, away she flies;
The grass stoops not, she treads on it so light5;
And in her haste unfortunately spies
The foul boar's conquest on her fair delight;Which seen, her eyes, as murder'd with the view,
Or, as the snail, whose tender horns being hit,
Where they resign their office and their light
"Trifles light as air,"Are to the jealous confirmations strong "As proofs of holy writ.""—with false bethinking grieves." Here the false concord cannot be corrected on account of the rhyme. See p. 79, n. 6.
Malone. s The Grass stoops not, she treads on it so light;] Illa per intactas segetes, vel summa volaret Gramina, nec teneras cursu laesisset aristas. Virgil.
Steevens. 6 Which seen, her eyes, As murder'd with the view, Like stars asham'd of day, themselves withdrew.] Thus the edition of 1596. The original copy has—"are murder'd," which certainly affords sense; but the other reading, being manifestly an improvement of the passage, I suppose to have come from the hand of the author. Malone. ? Or, as the snail, whose tender Horns being hit, Shrinks backward in his Shelly cave with pain,] So, in Coriolanus:
"Thrusts forth his horns again into the world; "Which were in-shell'dwhen Marcius stood for Rome." The former of these passages supports Mr. Tyrwhitt's reading of another. See vol. ix. p. 84s and vol. xiv. p. 178. Steevens.
Who bids them still consort with ugly night8,
Whereat each tributary subject quakes9;
And, being open'd, threw unwilling light3
Upon the wide wound that the boar had trench'd 4
8 — Consort with ugly Night,] So, in Romeo and Juliet:"To be consorted with the humorous night." Malone.
9 Who, like a King
Whereat each tributary Subject Cuakes;] So, in King Lear:
"Ay, every inch a king:
"When I do stare, see how the subject quakes."
Steevens. 1 As when the Wind, Imprison'd in the ground, Struggling for passage, earth's foundation Shakes,] So, in King Henry IV. Part I.:
"—— oft the teeming earth"Is with a kind ofcholick pinch'd and vex'd"By the imprisoning of unruly wind"Within her womb; which, for enlargement striving,"Shakes the old beldame earth," &c. Steevens.
2 Which with cold terror doth men's Minds confound :] Our author here may have spoken from experience; for about thirteen years before this poem was published (1580,) at which time he was sixteen years old, there was an earthquake in England.
Malone. 3 — unwilling Light—] Thus the original copy, 1593. For light, in the edition of 1596, right was substituted, which in that of 1600 was made sight. Malone.
4 — that the boar had Trench'd—] Trench'd is cut. Tranche^ Fr. See vol. xi. p. 165, n. 7. Malone.