Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

1

Piercing the night's dull ear; and from the tents,
The armourers accomplishing the knights,
With busy bammers closing rivets up,
Give dreadful note of preparation.
The country cocks do crow, the clocks do toll:
And (the third hour of drowzie morning nam'd)
Proud of their numbers and secure in foul,
The confident and over-lufty French
Do the low-rated English play at dice;
And chide the cripple tardy-gated night,
Who, like a foul and ugly witch, does limp
So tediously away. The poor condemned English,
Like sacrifices, by their watchful fires
Sit patiently, and inly ruminate
The morning's danger ; (8) and their gesture sad,

(Investing

(8) And their geffure, &c.] The present paffage has perplexed the commentators, and seems not to have been at all understood by them : Tbeobald has left it as it stands, without troabling himself about it. Warburton and Sir Thomas Hanmer have both misun. derstood, and both altered it, differently. Their mistakes have arisen from imagining the participle investing was to be connected with gesture Sad in the foregoing line, whereas it is put absolute, and to be construed lank-lean cheeks, and war-worn coats investa ing ; there is no difficulty in the word applied to coats, as the im. mediate senfe of the word is cloathing Shakespear uses inveftments for cloaths in the foregoing play, A. 4 S. 2.

Whose white investments figure innocence. The difficulty is in the word applied to lank-lean cheeks; it must there be taken metaphorically : we know how vague our author is in his use of metaphors, and we know how often he uses one verb or participle to two nouns of a different sense, as here. But indeed the metaphor is not unusual, we say often the face is cloarb'd with smiles : thus to me this difficult pallage appears in a very clear light, which I could have with'd Mr. Edwards, who fo well understands our author had explained to us: he seems to look upon it as desperate. See Can. of criticism, p. 72.

A very ingenious gentleman observed to me, upon my asking his opinion of the passage, that investing, by the common accepta tion, fignifies befeging, or rather taking porchon of all the avenues to a place : and this arises from the civil and feudal customs of

giving

C3

(Investing lank-lean cheeks, and war worn-coats,)
* Presenteth them unto the gazing moon
So many horrid ghosts. Who now beholds
The royal captain of this ruin'd band,
Walking from watch to watch, from tent to tent,
Let him cry, praise and glory on his head!
For forth he goes, and visits all his hoft,
Bids them good-morrow with a modest smile,
And calls them brothers, friends, and countrymen.
Upon his royal face there is no note,
How diad an army hath enrounded him ;
Nor doth he dedicate one jot of colour
Unto the weary and all-watched night ;
But freshly looks, and over-bears attaint,
With chearful femblance, and sweet majesty;
That ev'ry wretch pining and pale before,
Beholding him, plucks comfort from his looks.
A largess universal, like the fun, -

giving poffeffion by a robe or vestment: He then observed, that Shakespear uses the word in a fimple sense: an investment with him being the matching of cloaths and cloaths that are well matchd or fuited, are called a sute or fuit of cloarbs.

- And their gesture fað Investing (i. e. fuiting or matching with) lank-lean cheeks &c; He seems to have fallen into the same mistake with the other commentators in regard to the construction. All I would obferve from his judicious remark is, that investing, in the metapborical fenfe, if it satisfies not the reader in the simple one, will explain the passage very well : lank-lean cheeks and war-worn coats taking, po fion of them, &c. but I think the first fenfe the true one.

I cannot but approve Sir Thomas Hanmer's criticism of presented into presenteth which I have admitted into the text, as the reader may plainly see, the chorus speaks of the time present: they fit, they ruminate, and so on. To make the line more clear, I have printed it in a parenthesis, and, I hope, shall be excused for my endeav :ur to explain fo difficult a passage, as I would have every

line, in our author, if possible, set rig and, by all means, * prefer the old and general readings, to any wanton conjcctures of misapprehending criticism. * Presentctb. Ox, edit, vulg profuted.

His lib'ral eyes doth give to ev'ry one,
Thawing cold fear,

Scene V. The Miseries of Royalty.
(9) O hard condition, and twin-born with greatness,
Subject to breath of ev'ry fool, whose sense
No more can feel but his own wringing.
What infinite heart-cafe moft kings neglect,
That private men enjoy? And what have kings,
That private have not too, save ceremony?
Save gen’ral ceremony ?
And what art thou, thou idol ceremony?
What kind of god art thou, that suffer'it more
Ot mortal griefs, than do thy worshippers ?
What are thy rents? What are thy comings in i
O ceremony, thew me but thy worth:
(10) What is the foul of adoration ?
Art thou aught else bat place, degree, and form,

(9) 0, &c.] See A. 4. S. 10, of the foregoing play.

(10) Wbat, &c.) What is thy soul of adoration--- is the common reading : there wants but the alteration of tby into the, as in the text, and all is well : the meaning is as well explained by Mr. Upton--what is tbe foul, i. e. the real worth, what substantial good is there in adoration or ceremony? What are the rents ? What are the comings in, Oh ceremony! Thew me but thy worth, tell me what is the foul, the very utmost value, of adoration ?---“ SbakeSpear uses the word soul in this fense very often;--in this play, he says,

There is some seul of goodness in things evil; i. e. fome real or fubftantial good. In bis midfummer night's dream

But you must join in fouls to mock me too; i. é.' unite together heartily, and in earneft And in Measure for measure;

We have with special soul

Elected him, &C. i.e particularly and specially speciamente. The alterations foisted into the texts in the feveral places, are too ridiculous to need mentioning: Upton's Observations, p. 406, C4

Creating

Creating awe and fear in other men? Wherein thou art less happy, being fear's, Than they in fearing. What drink'it thou ofi, instead of homage sweet, But poison'd flatt'ry! O be fick, great greatness, And bid thy ceremony give the cure. Think't thou, the fiery fever will go out With titles blown from adulation ? Will it give place to flexure and low bending? Can'st thou, when thou commar.d'it the beggar's knee, Command the health of it? No, thou proud dream, That play'it fo fubtly with a king's repofe ; I am a king, that find thee, and I know, 'Tis not the balm, the fceptre and the ball, The sword, the mace, the crown imperial, 'The enter-tissued robe of gold and pearl, The farsed title running 'fore the the king, The throne he fts on, nor the tide of pomp That beats opon the high fhoar of this world; No, not all these thrice gorgeous ceremonies, Not all these, laid in bed majeftical, Can fleep fo foundly as the wretched flave; Who, with a body fill'd, ani vacant mind, Gets him to reft, cramm'd with distressful bread; Never fees horrid night, the child of hell: * But, like a lacquey, from the rise to fet,

Sweats

But, like, &c.] The poet in this mof beautiful paffage is compas. ing the laborious have to the lacquey or footman of Pkæbus : “He never beho!ds night, says the poet, but like a lacquey obliged ever to attend and follow his master, sweats from rise to fet, in the eye of Pbebus, bis master, sleeps all night, where be (Pbebus! Neeps, in Elyfium, and the next day, after dawn, rises to his business, and helps his mafter, Hyperion, to his horse ; in whose fight he again sweats from rise to set as before, and thus follows the ever-running year &c." Nothing can be more exquisite, and more nobly bespeak the hand of Shakespear. Mr. Seward's alteration is quite unnecessary; for this manner of expression is entirely

agreeable

Sweats in the eye of Phoebus ; and all night
Sleeps in elyfium: next day, after dawn,
Doth rise, and help Hyperion to his horse :
And follows fo the ever-running year
With profitable labour to his grave:
And (but for ceremony) such a wretch,
Winding up days with toil, and nights with sleep,
Hath the fore-hand and vantage of a king.

SCENE VII. A Defcription of the miserable

State of the English At my. Yon island carrions, defperate of their bones, mi favour’dly become the morning field: Their ragged curtains poorly are let loose, And our air shakes them passing scornfully. Big Mars seems bankrupt in their beggar'd hoft, And faintly through a rusty beaver peeps. The horsemen fit like fixed candlesticks, With torch-Itaves in their hands : and their poor jades: Lob down their heads, dropping the hide and hips :

agreeable to our author. That gentleman, in his preface, brings the following passage from Philafler, A. 4. as worthy to be placed in competition with that of Sbakespear, and where the hands, he says, are scarcely to be distinguished, except from one fingle expression of Sbakespear. A prince depriv'd of his throne and betray'd as he thought in love, thus mourns his melancholy state. See Beaumons: and Fleteber's works, Vol. 1. preface, p. 24.

Oh that I had been nourish'd in these woods,
With milk of goats and acorns, and not known
The right of crowns, or the difsembling train
Of woman's looks; but dig'd myself a cave,
Where I, my fire, my cattle, and my bed,
Might have been shut together in one shed :
And then had taken me some mountain girl,
Beaten with winds, chaste as the harden'd rocks

Whereon she dwells i that might have strew'd my bed 1 With leaves and reeds, and with the skins of beasts,

Our neighbours, and have borne at her big breaste
My large coarse iffue! -

"The

C5

« AnteriorContinuar »