NOTES TO SHAKESPEARE
Edited, with an Introduction, by Arthur Sherbo
Richard C. Boys, University of Michigan
Ralph Cohen, University of California, Los Angeles
Vinton A. Dearing, University of California, Los Angeles
Lawrence Clark Powell, Clark Memorial Library
W. Earl Britton, University of Michigan
Emmett L. Avery, State College of Washington
Benjamin Boyce, Duke University
Louis Bredvold, University of Michigan
John Butt, King’s College, University of Durham
James L. Clifford, Columbia University
Arthur Friedman, University of Chicago
Louis A. Landa, Princeton University
Samuel H. Monk, University of Minnesota
Ernest C. Mossner, University of Texas
James Sutherland, University College, London
H. T. Swedenberg, Jr., University of California, Los Angeles
Edna C. Davis, Clark Memorial Library
Introduction on Tragedies
Dr. Johnson’s reaction to Shakespeare’s tragedies is a curious one, compounded as it is of deep emotional involvement in a few scenes in some plays and a strange dispassionateness toward most of the others. I suspect that his emotional involvement took root when he read Shakespeare as a boy—one remembers the terror he experienced in reading of the Ghost in Hamlet, and it was probably also as a boy that he suffered that shock of horrified outrage and grief at the death of Cordelia that prevented him from rereading the scene until be came to edit the play. Johnson’s deepest feelings and convictions, Professor Clifford has recently reminded us, can be traced back to his childhood and adolescence. But it is surprising to learn, as one does from his commentary, that other scenes in these very plays (Hamlet and King Lear, and in Macbeth, too) leave him unmoved, if one can so interpret the absence of any but an explanatory note on, say, Lear’s speech beginning “Pray, do not mock me;/I am a very foolish fond old man.” Besides this negative evidence there is also the positive evidence of many notes which display the dispassionate editorial mind at work where one might expect from Johnson an outburst of personal feeling. There are enough of these outbursts to warrant our expecting others, but we are too frequently disappointed. Perhaps Johnson thought of most of Shakespeare’s tragedies as “imperial tragedies” and that is why he could maintain a stance of aloofness; conversely, “the play of Timonis a domestick Tragedy, and therefore strongly fastens on the attention of the reader.” But the “tragedy” of Timon does not capture the attention of the modern reader, and perhaps all attempts to fix Johnson’s likes and dislikes, and the reasons for them, in the canon of Shakespeare’s plays must circle endlessly without ever getting to their destination.
(392) Most of the notes which the present editor has subjoined to this play were published by him in a small pamphlet in 1745.
I.i (393,*) Enter three Witches] In order to make a true estimate of the abilities and merit of a writer, it it always necessary to examine the genius of his age, and the opinions of his contemporaries. A poet who should now make the whole action of his tragedy depend upon enchantment, and produce the chief events by the assistance of supernatural agents, would be censured as transgressing the bounds of probability, be banished from the theatre to the nursery, and condemned to write fairy tales instead of tragedies; but a survey of the notions that prevailed at the time when this play was written, will prove that Shakespeare was in no danger of such censures, since he only turned the system that was then universally admitted, to his advantage, and was far from overburthening the credulity of his audience.
The reality of witchcraft or enchantment, which, though not strictly the same, are confounded in this play, has in all ages and countries been credited by the common people, and in most, by the learned themselves. These phantoms have indeed appeared more frequently, in proportion as the darkness of ignorance has been more gross; but it cannot be shown, that the brightest gleams of knowledge have at any time been sufficient to drive them out of the world. The time in which this kind of credulity was at its height, seems to have been that of the holy war, in which the Christians imputed all their defeats to enchantments or diabolical opposition, as they ascribed their success to the assistance of their military saints; and the learned Dr. Warburton appears to believe (Suppl. to the Introduction to Don Quixote) that the first accounts of enchantments were brought into this part of the world by those who returned from their eastern expeditions. But there is always some distance between the birth and maturity of folly as of wickedness: this opinion had long existed, though perhaps the application of it had in no foregoing age been so frequent, nor the reception so general. Olympiodorus, in Photius’s extracts, tells us of one Libanius, who practised this kind of military magic, and having promised [Greek: choris opliton kata barbaron energein] to perform great things against the Barbarians without soldiers, was, at the instances of the empress Placidia, put to death, when he was about to have given proofs of his abilities. The empress shewed some kindness in her anger by cutting him off at a time so convenient for his reputation.
But a more remarkable proof of the antiquity of this notion may be found in St. Chrysostom’s book de Sacerdotia, which exhibits a scene of enchantments not exceeded by any romance of the middle age: he supposes a spectator overlooking a field of battle attended by one that points out all the various objects of horror, the engines of destruction, and the arts of slaughter. [Greek: Deichnuto de eti para tois enantiois kai petomenous hippous dia tinos magganeias, kai oplitas di’ aeros pheromenous, kai pasaen goaeteias dunomin kai idean.] Let him then proceed to shew him in the opposite armies horses flying by enchantment, armed men transported through the air, and every power and form of magic. Whether St. Chrysostom believed that such performances were really to be seen in a day of battle, or only endeavoured to enliven his description, by adopting the notions of the vulgar, it is equally certain, that such nations were in his time received, and that therefore they were not imported from the Saracens in a later age; the wars with the Saracens however gave occasion to their propagation, not only as bigotry naturally discovers prodigies, but as the scene of action was removed to a great distance.
The Reformation did not immediately arrive at its meridian, and though day was gradually encreasing upon us, the goblins of witchcraft still continued to hover in the twilight. In the time of queen Elizabeth was the remarkable trial of the witches of Warbois, whose conviction is still commemorated in an annual sermon at Huntingdon. But in the reign of king James, in which this tragedy was written, many circumstances concurred to propagate and confirm this opinion. The king, who was much celebrated for his knowledge, had, before his arrival in England, not only examined in person a woman accused of witchcraft, but had given a very formal account of the practices and illusions of evil spirits, the compacts of witches, the ceremonies used by them, the manner of detecting them, and the justice of punishing them, in his dialogues of Daemonologie, written in the Scottish dialect, and published at Edinburgh. This book was, soon after his accession, reprinted at London, and as the ready way to gain king James’s favour was to flatter his speculations, the system of Daemonologie was immediately adopted by all who desired either to gain preferment or not to lose it. Thus the doctrine of witchcraft was very powerfully inculcated; and as the greatest part of mankind have no other reason for their opinions than that they are in fashion, it cannot be doubted but this persuasion made a rapid progress, since vanity and credulity co-operated in its favour. The infection soon reached the parliament, who, in the first year of king James, made a law, by which it was enacted, chap. xii. “That if any person shall use any invocation or conjuration of any evil or wicked spirit; 2. or shall consult, covenant with, entertain, employ, feed or reward any evil or cursed spirit to or for any intent or purpose; 3. or take up any dead man, woman or child out of the grave,—or the skin, bone, or any part of the dead person, to be employed or used in any manner of witchcraft, sorcery, charm, or enchantment; 4. or shall use, practise or exercise any sort of witchcraft, sorcery, charm, or enchantment; 5. whereby any person shall be destroyed, killed, wasted, consumed, pined, or lamed in any part of the body; 6. That every such person being convicted shall suffer death.” This law was repealed in our own time.
Thus, in the time of Shakespeare, was the doctrine of witchcraft at once established by law and by the fashion, and it became not only unpolite, but criminal, to doubt it; and as prodigies are always seen in proportion as they are expected, witches were every day discovered, and multiplied as fast in some places, that bishop Hall mentions a village in Lancashire, where their number was greater than that of the houses. The jesuits and sectaries took advantage of this universal error, and endeavoured to promote the interest of their parties by pretended cures of persons afflicted by evil spirits; but they were detected and exposed by the clergy of the established church.
Upon this general infatuation Shakespeare might be easily allowed to found a play, especially since he has followed with great exactness such histories as were then thought true; nor can it be doubted that the scenes of enchantment, however they may now be ridiculed, were both by himself and his audience thought awful and affecting.
I.i.10 (396,5) Fair is foul, and foul is fair] I believe the meaning is, that to us, perverse and malignant as we are, fair is foul, and foul is fair.
I.ii.14 (398,9) And Fortune, on his damned quarry smiling] Thus the old copy; but I am inclined to read quarrel. Quarrel was formerly used for cause, or for the occasion of a quarrel, and is to be found in that sense in Hollingshed’s account of the story of Macbeth, who, upon the creation of the prince of Cumberland, thought, says the historian, that he had a just quarrel, to endeavour after the crown. The sense therefore is, Fortune smiling on his excrable cause, &c. This is followed by Dr. Warburten. (see 1765, VI, 373, 4).
I.ii.28 (400,4) Discomfort swells] Discomfort the natural opposite to comfort. Well’d, for flawed, was an emendation. The common copies have, discomfort swells.
I.ii.37 (400,5) As cannons overcharg’d with double cracks,
Doubly redoubled strokes upon the foe]
Mr. Theobald has endeavoured to improve the sense of this passage by altering the punctuation thus:
As cannons overcharg’d, with double cracks
So they redoubled strokes—
He declares, with some degree of exultation, that he has no idea of a cannon charged with double cracks; but surely the great author will not gain much by an alteration which makes him say of a hero, that he redoubles strokes with double cracks, an expression not more loudly to be applauded, or more easily pardoned than that which is rejected in its favour. That a cannon is charged with thunder, or with double thunders, may be written, not only without nonsense, but with elegance, and nothing else is here meant by cracks, which in the time of this writer was a word of such emphasis and dignity, that in this play he terms the general dissolution of nature the crack of doom.
The old copy reads,
They doubly redoubled strokes.
I.ii.46 (401,8) So should he look, that seems to speak things strange] The meaning of this passage, as it now stands, is, so should he look, that looks as if he told things strange. But Rosse neither yet told strange things, nor could look as if he told them; Lenox only conjectured from his air that he had strange things to tell, and therefore undoubtedly said,
What haste looks thro’ his eyes?
So should he look, that teems to speak thinks strange.
He looks like one that is big with something of importance; a metaphor so natural that it is every day used in common discourse.
I.ii.55 (402,1) Confronted him with self-comparisons] [Theobald interpreted “him” as Cawdor; Johnson, in 1745, accused Shakespeare of forgetfulness on the basis of Theobald’s error; and Warburton here speaks of “blunder upon blunder.”] The second blunderer was the present editor.
I.iii.6 (403,5) Aroint thee, witch!] In one of the folio editions the reading is Anoint thee, in a sense very consistent with the common accounts of witches, who are related to perform many supernatural acts by the means of unguents, and particularly to fly through the air to the places where they meet at their hellish festivals. In this sense, anoint thee, Witch, will mean, Away, Witch, to your infernal assembly. This reading I was inclined to favour, because I had met with the word aroint in no other authour till looking into Hearne’s Collections I found it in a very old drawing, that he has published, in which St. Patrick is represented visiting hell, and putting the devils into great confusion by his presence, of whom one that is driving the damned before him with a prong, has a label issuing out of his mouth with these words, OUT OUT ARONGT, of which the last is evidently the same with aroint, and used in the same sense as in this passage.
I.iii.15 (405,8) And the very points they blew] As the word very is here of no other use than to fill up the verse, it is likely that Shakespeare wrote various, which might be easily mistaken for very, being either negligently read, hastily pronounced, or imperfectly heard.
I.iii.21 (405,9) He shall live a man forbid] Mr. Theobald has very justly explained forbid by accursed, but without giving any reason of his interpretation.
As to forbid therefore implies to prohibit, in opposition to the word bid in its present sense, it signifies by the same kind of opposition to curse, when it is derived from the same word in its primitive meaning.
I.iii.42 (409,3) are you aught/That man may question?] Are ye any beings with which man is permitted to hold converse, or of which it is lawful to ask questions?
I.iii.53 (410,5) Are ye fantastical] By fantastical, he means creatures of fantasy or imagination; the question is, Are these real beings before us, or are we deceived by illusions of fancy?
I.iii.97 (412,8) As thick as tale] [As thick as hail] Was Mr. Pope’s correction. The old copy has,
—As thick as tale
Can post with post;—
which perhaps is not amiss, meaning that the news came as thick as a tale can travel with the post. Or we may read, perhaps yet better,
—As thick as tale
Came post with post;—
That is, posts arrived as fast as they could be counted.
I.iii.130 (414,4) This supernatural solliciting] Solliciting is rather, in my opinion, incitement than information.
I.iii.134 (414,5) why do I yield] To yield is, simply, to give way to.
I.iii.137 (414,6) Present fears/Are less than horrible imaginings] [W: feats] Present fears are fears of things present, which Macbeth declares, and every man has found, to be less than the imagination presents them while the objects are yet distant.Fears is right.
I.iii.140 (415,7) single state of man] The single state of man seems to be used by Shakespeare for an individual, in opposition to a commonwealth, or conjunct body.
I.iii.40 (415,8) function/Is smother’d in surmise; and nothing is,/ But what is not] All powers of action are oppressed and crushed by one overwhelming image in the mind, and nothing is present to me, but that which is really future. Of things now about me I have no perception, being intent wholly on that which has yet no existence.
I.iii.147 (415,9) Time and the hour runs through the roughest day] I suppose every reader is disgusted at the tautology in this passage, Time and the hour, and will therefore willingly believe that Shakespeare wrote it thus,
Come what come may,
Time! on!—the hour runs thro’ the roughest day.
Macbeth is deliberating upon the events which are to befall him, but finding no satisfaction from his own thoughts, he grows impatient of reflection, and resolves to wait the close without harrassing hinaelf with conjectures.
Come what come may.
But to shorten the pain of suspense, he calls upon Time In the usual stile of ardent desire, to quicken his motion,
Time! on! —
He then comforts himself with the reflection that all his perplexity must have an end,
—the hour runs thro’ the roughest day.
This conjecture is supported by the passage in the letter to his lady, in which he says, they referred me to the coming on of time, with Hail, King that shalt be.
I.iii.149 (416,1) My dull brain was wrought] My head was worked, agitated, put into commotion.
I.iv.9 (417,3) studied in his death] Instructed in the art of dying. It was usual to say studied, for learned in science.
I.iv.12 (417,4) To find the mind’s construction in the face] The construction of the mind is, I believe, a phrase peculiar to Shakespeare; it implies the frame or disposition of the mind, by which it is determined to good or ill.
I.iv.26 (418,5) Which do but what they should, by doing everything, Safe toward your love and honour] Of the last line of this speech, which is certainly, as it is now read, unintelligible, an emendation has been attempted, which Dr. Warburton and Dr. Theobald once admitted as the true reading:
Are to your throne and state, children and servants,
Which do but what they should, in doing every thing
Fiefs to your love and honour.
My esteem for these critics inclines me to believe that they cannot be much pleased with these expressions fiefs to love, or fiefs to honour, and that they have proposed this alteration rather because no other occured to them, than because they approved of it. I shall therefore propose a bolder change, perhaps with no better success, but sua cuique placent. I read thus,
Are to your throne and state, children and servants
Which do but what they should, in doing nothing,
Save toward your love and honour.
We do but perform our duty when we contract all our views to your service, when we act with no other principle than regard to your love and honour.
It is probable that this passage was first corrupted by writing safe for save, and the lines then stood thus:
Safe toward your love and honour.
which the next transcriber observing to be wrong, and yet not being able to discover the real fault, altered to the present reading.
Dr. Warburton has since changed fiefs to fief’d, and Hanmer has altered safe to shap’d. I am afraid none of us have hit the right word.
I.v.2 (420, 6) by the perfected report] By the best intelligence. Dr. Warburton would read, perfected, and explains report by prediction. Little regard can be paid to an emendation that instead of clearing the sense, makes it more difficult.
I.v.23 (420, 7) thoud’st have, great Glamis,/That which cries, Thus thou must do, if thou have it] As the object of Macbeth’s desire is here introduced speaking of itself, it is necessary to read,
—thoud’st have, great Glamis,
That which cries, thus thou must do, if thou have me.
I.v.39 (422, 8) The raven himself is hoarse] Dr. Warburton reads,
—The raven himself’s not hoarse.
Yet I think the present words may stand. The messenger, says the servant, had hardly breath to make up his message; to which the lady answers mentally, that he may well want breath, such a message would add hoarseness to the raven. That even the bird, whose harsh voice is accustomed to predict calamities, could not croak the entrance of Duncan but in a note of unwonted harshness.
I.v.42 (422, 2) mortal thoughts] This expression signifies not the thoughts of mortals, but murtherous, deadly, or destructive designs. So in act 5,
Hold fast the mortal sword.
And in another place,
With twenty mortal murthers.
I.v.47 (422, 3) nor keep peace between/The effect, and it!] The intent of lady Macbeth evidently is to wish that no womanish tenderness, or conscientious remorse, may hinder her purpose from proceeding to effect; but neither this, nor indeed any other sense, is expressed by the present reading, and therefore it cannot be doubted that Shakespeare wrote differently, perhaps thus,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep pace between
Th’ effect, and it.—
To keep pace between may signify to pass between, to intervene. Pace is on many occasions a favourite of Shakespeare’s. This phrase is indeed not usual in this sease, but was it not its novelty that gave occasion to the present corruption? [The sense is, that no compunctious visitings of nature may prevail upon her, to give place in her mind to peaceful thoughts, or to rest one moment in quiet, from the hour of her purpose to its full completion in the effect. REVISAL.] This writer thought himself perhaps very sagacious that be found a meaning which nobody missed, the difficulty still remains how such a meaning is made by the words. (see 1765, VI, 394, 6)
I.v.49 (423, 5) take my milk for gall] Take away my milk, and put gall into the place.
I.v.51 (423, 6) You wait on nature’s mischief!] Nature’s mischief is mischief done to nature, violation of nature’s order committed by wickedness.
I.v.55 (423,8) To cry, _hold, hold_!] On this passage there is a long criticism in the Rambler.
I.v.58 (424,1) This ignorant present time] Ignorant has here the signification of unknowing; that it, I feel by anticipation these future hours, of which, according to the process of nature, the present time would be ignorant.
I.vi.3 (425,3) our gentle senses] Senses are nothing more than each man’s sense. Gentle senses is very elegant, as it means placid, calm, composed, and intimates the peaceable delight of a fine day. (see 1765, VI,396,2)
I.vi.7 (426,5) coigne of ‘vantage] Convenient corner.
I.vi.13 (426,7) How you should bid god-yield as for your pains] I believe yield, or, as it is in the folio of 1623, eyld, is a corrupted contraction of shield. The wish implores not reward but protection.
I.vii.1 (428,1) If it were done] A man of learning recommends another punctuation:
If it were done, when ’tis done, then ’twere well.
It were done quickly, if, &c.
I.vii.2 (428,2) If the assassination/Could tramel up the consequence] Of this soliloquy the meaning is not very clear; I have never found the readers of Shakespeare agreeing about it. I understand it thus,
“If that which I am about to do, when it is once done and executed, were done and ended without any following effects, it would then be best to do it quickly; if the murder could terminate in itself, and restrain the regular course of consequences, if its success could secure its surcease, if being once done successfully, without detection, it could fix a period to all vengeance and enquiry, so that this blow might be all that I have to do, and this anxiety all that I have to suffer; if this could be my condition, even here in this world, in this contracted period of temporal existence, on this narrow bank in the ocean of eternity, I would jump the life to come, I would venture upon the deed without care of any future state. But this is one of these cases in which judgment is pronounced and vengeance inflicted upon as here in our present life. We teach others to do as we have done, and are punished by our own example.” (1773)
I.vii.4 (428,3) With his surcease, success] I think the reasoning requires that we should read,
With its success surcease.
I.vii.6 (429,4) shoal of time] This is Theobald’s emendation, undoubtedly right. The old edition has school, and Dr. Warburton shelve.
I.vii.22 (429,7) or heavens cherubin, hors’d/Upon the sightless couriers of the air] [W: couriers] Courier is only runner. Couriers of air are winds, air in motion. Sightless is invisible.
I.vii.25 (430,8) That tears shall drown the wind] Alluding to the remission of the wind in a shower.
I.vii.28 (430,9) Enter Lady] The arguments by which lady Macbeth persuades her husband to commit the murder, afford a proof of Shakespeare’s knowledge of human nature. She urges the excellence and dignity of courage, a glittering idea which has dazzled mankind from age to age, and animated sometimes the house-breaker, and sometimes the conqueror; but this sophism Macbeth has for ever destroyed, by distinguishing true from false fortitude, in a line and a half; of which it may almost be said, that they ought to bestow immortality on the author, though all his other productions had been lost:
I dare do all that become a man,
Who dares do more, is none.
This topic, which has been always employed with too much success, is used in this scene with peculiar propriety, to a soldier by a woman. Courage is the distinguishing virtue of a soldier, and the reproach of cowardice cannot be borne by any man from a woman, without great impatience.
She then urges the oaths by which he had bound himself to murder Duncan, another art of sophistry by which men have sometimes deluded their consciences, and persuaded themselves that what would be criminal in others is virtuous in them; this argument Shakespeare, whose plan obliged him to make Macbeth yield, has not confuted, though he might easily have shewn that a former obligation could not be vacated by a latter: that obligations laid on us by a higher power, could not be over-ruled by obligations which we lay upon ourselves.
—Whouldst thou have that,
Which then esteem’st the ornament of life,
And live a coward in thine own esteem?]
In this there seems to be no reasoning. I should read,
Or live a coward in thine own esteem?
Unless we choose rather,
—Wouldst thou leave that.
I.vii.45 (431,2) Like the poor cat i’ the adage?] The adage alluded to is, The cat loves fish, but dares not wet her feet, Catus amat pisces, sed men vult tingere plantas.
I.vii.64 (432,5) Will I with wine and wassel so convince] To convince is in Shakespeare to overpower or subdue, as in this play,
—Their malady convinces
The great assay of art.
I.vii.67 (433,6) A limbeck only] That is, shall be only a vessel to emit fumes or vapours.
I.vii.71 (433,7) our great quell] Quell is murder. manquellers being in the old language the term for which murderers is now used.
II.i (434,8) Enter Banquo, and Fleance with a torch before him] The place is not mark’d in the old edition, nor is it easy to say where this encounter can be. It is not in the hall, as the editors have all supposed it, for Banquo sees the sky; it is not far from the bedchamber, as the conversation shews: it must be in the inner court of the castle, which Banquo might properly cross in his way to bed.
II.i.25 (435,2) If you shall cleave to my consent, Then ’tis,/It shall make honour for you] Macbeth expressed his thought with affected obscurity; he does not mention the royalty, though he apparently has it in his mind, If you shall cleave to my consent, if you shall concur with me when I determine to accept the crown, when ’tis, when that happens which the prediction promises, it shall make honour for you.
II.i.49 (437,6) Now o’er the one half world/Nature seems dead] That is, over our hemisphere all action and motion seem to have ceased. This image, which is perhaps the most striking that poetry can produce, has been adopted by Dryden in hisConquest of Mexico:
All things are hush’d as Nature’s self lay dead,
The mountains seem to nod their drowsy head;
The little birds in dreams their song repeat,
And sleeping flow’rs beneath the night dews sweat.
Even lust and envy sleep!
These lines, though so well known, I have transcribed, that the contrast between them and this passage of Shakespeare may be more accurately observed.
Night is described by two great poets, but one describes a night of quiet, the other of perturbation. In the night of Dryden, all the disturbers of the world are laid asleep; in that of Shakespeare, nothing but sorcery, lust, and murder, is awake. He that reads Dryden, finds himself lull’d with serenity, and disposed to solitude and contemplation. He that peruses Shakspeare looks round alarmed, and starts to find himself alone. One is the night of a lover, the other, of a murderer.
—thus with hia stealthy pace,
With Tarquin’s ravishing strides, tow’rds his design
moves like a ghost.—]
This was the reading of this passage [ravishing sides] in all the editions before that of Mr. Pope, who for sides, inserted in the text strides, which Mr. Theobald has tacitly copied from him, though a more proper alteration might perhaps have been made. Aravishing stride is an action of violence, impetuosity, and tumult, like that of a savage rushing at his prey; whereas the poet is here attempting to exhibit an image of secrecy and caution, of anxious circumspection and guilty timidity, the stealthy pace of aravisher creeping into the chamber of a virgin, and of an assassin approaching the bed of him whom he proposes to murder, without awaking him; these he describes as moving like ghosts, whose progression is so different from strides, that it has been in all ages represented te be, as Milton expresses it,
Smooth sliding without step.
This hemiatic will afford the true reading of this place, which is, I think, to be corrected thus:
—and wither’d Murder.
—thus with his stealthy pace.
With Tarquin ravishing, slides tow’rds his design,
Moves like a ghost.—
Tarquin is in this place the general name of a ravisher, and the sense is, Now is the time in which every one is a-sleep, but those who are employed in wickedness; the witch who is sacrificing to Hecate, and the ravisher, and the murderer, who, like me, are stealing upon their prey.
When the reading is thus adjusted, he wishes with great propriety, in the following lines, that the earth may not hear his steps.
II.i.59 (439,3) And take the present horrour from the time,/Which now suits with it] Of this passage an alteration was once proposed by me, of which I have now a less favourable opinion, yet will insert it, as it may perhaps give some hint to other critics:
And take the present horrour from the time,
Which now suits with it.—
I believe every one that has attentively read this dreadful soliloquy is disappointed at the conclusion, which, if not wholly unintelligible, is, at least, obscure, nor can be explained into any sense worthy of the authour. I shall therefore propose a slight alteration:
—Thou sound and firm-set earth,
Hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fear
Thy very stones prate of my where-about,
And talk—the present horrour of the time!
That now suits with it.—
Macbeth has, in the foregoing lines, disturbed his imagination by enumerating all the terrors of the night; at length he is wrought up to a degree of frenzy, that makes him afraid of some supernatural discovery of his design, and calls out to the stones not to betray him, not to declare where he walks, nor to talk.—As he is going to say of what, he discovers the absurdity of his suspicion, and pauses, but is again overwhelmed by his guilt, and concludes, that such are the horrors of the present night, that the stones may be expected to cry out against him:
That now suits with it.—
He observes in a subsequent passage, that on such occasions stones have been known to move. It is now a very just and strong picture of a man about to commit a deliberate murder under the strongest conviction of the wickedness of his design. Of this alteration, however, I do not now see much use, and certainly see no necessity.
Whether to take horrour from the time means not rather to catch it as communicated, than to deprive the time of horrour, deserves te be considered.
II.ii.37 (443,6) sleave of care] A skein of silk is called a sleave of silk, as I learned from Mr. Seward, the ingenious editor of Beaumont and Fletcher.
II.ii.56 (444,8) gild the faces of the grooms withal,/For it must seem their guilt] Could Shakespeare possibly mean to play upon the similitude of gild and guilt.
II.iii.45 (447,5) I made a shift to cast him] To cast him up, to ease my stomach of him. The equivocation is between cast or throw, as a term of wrestling, and cast or cast up.
—strange screams of death;
And prophesying, with accents terrible
Of dire combustions, and confus’d events,
New hatch’d to the woeful time: The obscure bird
Clamour’d the live-long night: some say the earth
Was feverous, and did shake]
Those lines I think should be rather regulated thus:
—prophecying with accents terrible,
Of dire combustions and cosfus’d events.
New-hatch’d to th’ woful time, the obscure bird
Clamour’d the live-long night. Some say the earth
Was fev’rous and did shake.
A prophecy of an event new hatch’d, seems to be a prophecy of an event past. And a prophecy new hatch’d is a wry expression. The term new hatch’d is properly applicable to a bird, and that birds of ill omen should be new-hatch’d to the woful time, that is, should appear in uncommon numbers, is very consistent with the rest of the prodigies here mentioned, and with the universal disorder into which nature is described as thrown, by the perpetration of this horrid murder. (see 1765, VI, 413, 7)
II.iii.117 (452,3) Here, lay Duncan,/His silver skin lac’d with his golden blood] Mr. Pope has endeavoured to improve one of these lines by substituting goary blood for golden blood; but it may easily be admitted that he who could on such an occasion talk of lacing the silyer skin, would lace it with golden blood. No amendment can be made to this line, of which every word is equally faulty, but by a general blot.
It is not improbable, that Shakespeare put these forced and unnatural metaphors into the mouth of Macbeth as a mark of artifice and dissimulation, to shew the difference between the studied language of hypocrisy, and the natural outcries of sudden passion. This whole speech so considered, is a remarkable instance of judgment, as it consists entirely of antithesis and metaphor.
II.iii.122 (432,5) Unmannerly breech’d with gore] An unmannerly dagger, and a dagger breech’d, or as in some editions breech’d with, gore, are expressions not easily to be understood. There are undoubtedly two faults in this passage, which I have endeavored to take away by reading,
Unmanly drench’d with gore:—
I saw drench’d with the King’s blood the fatal daggers, not only instruments of murder but evidence of cowardice.
Each of these words might easily be confounded with that which I have substituted for it, by a hand not exact, a casual blot, or a negligent inspection, [W: Unmanly reech’d] Dr. Warburton has, perhaps, rightly put reach’d for breech’d.
In the great hand of God I stand; and thence,
Against the undivulg’d pretence I fight
Of treasonous malice]
Pretence is not act, but simulation, a pretence of the traitor, whoever he might be, to suspect some other of the murder. I here fly to the protector of innocence from any charge which, yet undivulg’d, the traitor may pretend to fix upon me.
II.iii.147 (454,7) This murtherous shaft that’s shot,/Hath not yet lighted] The design to fix the murder opon some innocent person, has not yet taken effect.
II.iv.15 (456,9) minions of their race] Theobald reads,
—minions of the race,
very probably, and very poetically.
II.iv.24 (456,1) What good could they pretend?] To pretend is here to propose to themselves, to set before themselves as a motive of action.
III.i.7 (457,2) As upon thee, Macbeth, their speeches shine] Shine, for appear with all the lustre of conspicuous truth.
III.i.56 (459,4) as, it is said,/Mark Anthony’s was by Caesar] Though I would not often assume the critic’s privilege of being confident where certainty cannot be obtained, nor indulge myself too far in departing from the established reading; yet I cannot but propose the rejection of this passage, which I believe was an insertion of some player, that having so much learning as to discover to what Shakespeare alluded, was not willing that his audience should be less knowing than himself, and has therefore weakened the authour’s sense by the intrusion of a remote and useless image into a speech bursting from a man wholly possess’d with his own present condition, and therefore not at leisure to explain his own allusions to himself. If these words are taken away, by which not only the thought but the numbers are injured, the lines of Shakespeare close together without any traces of a breach.
My genius is rebuk’d. He chid the sisters.
This note was written before I was fully acquainted with Shakespeare’s manner, and I do not now think it of much weight; for though the words, which I was once willing to eject, seem interpolated, I believe they may still be genuine, and added by the authour in his revision. The authour of the Revisal cannot admit the measure to be faulty. There is only one foot, he says, put for another. This is one of the effects of literature in minds not naturally perspicacious. Every boy or girl finds the metre imperfect, but the pedant comes to its defence with a tribrachys or an anapaest, and sets it right at once by applying to one language the rules of another. If we may be allowed to change feet, like the old comic writers, it will not be easy to write a line not metrical. To hint this once, is sufficient. (see 1765, VI, 424, 2)
III.i.65 (460,5) For Banquo’s issue have I fil’d my mind] [W: ‘filed] This mark of contraction is not necessary. To file is in the bishop’s Bible.
III.i.69 (460,6) the common enemy of man] It is always an entertainment to an inquisitive reader, to trace a sentiment to its original source; and therefore, though the term enemy of man, applied to the devil, is in itself natural and obvious, yet some may be pleased with being informed, that Shakespeare probably borrowed it from the first lines of the Destruction of Troy, a book which he is known to have read. This expression, however, he might have had in many other places. The word fiend signifies enemy.
III.i.71 (461,7) come, Fate, into the list,/And champion me to the utterance!] This passage will be best explained by translating it into the language from whence the only word of difficulty in it is borrowed, “Que la destinée se rende en lice, et qu’elle me donne un defi a l’outrance.” A challenge or a combat a l’outrance, to extremity, was a fix’d term in the law of arms, used when the combatants engaged with an odium internecinum, an intention to destroy each other, in opposition to trials of skill at festivals, or on other occasions, where the contest was only for reputation or a prize. The sense therefore is, Let Fate, that has foredoom’d the exaltation of the sons of Banquo, enter the lists against me, with the utmost animosity, in defence of its own decrees, which I will endeavour to invalidate, whatever be the danger. [Johnson quotes Warburton’s note] After the former explication, Dr. Warburton was desirous to seem to do something; and he has therefore made Fate the marshal, whom I had made the champion, and has left Macbeth to enter the lists without an opponent.
III.i.88 (462,9) Are you so gospell’d] Are you of that degree of precise virtue? Gospeller was a name of contempt given by the Papists to the Lollards, the puritans of early times, and the precursors of protestantism.
III.i.94 (463,1) Showghes] Showghes are probably what we now call shocks, demi-wolves, lyciscae; dogs bred between wolves and dogs. (1773)
III.i.95 (463,2) the valued file] In this speech the word file occurs twice, and seems in both places to have a meaning different from its present use. The expression, valued file, evidently means, a list or catalogue of value. A station in the file, and not in the worst rank, may mean, a place in the list of manhood, and not in the lowest place. But file seems rather to mean in this place, a post of honour; the first rank, in opposition to the last; a meaning which I have not observed in any other place. (1773)
III.i.112 (465,2) So weary with disasters, tug’d with fortune] Tug’d with fortune may be, tug’d or worried by fortune.
III.i.130 (465,4) Acquaint you with the perfect spy o’ the time] What is meant by the spy of the time, it will be found difficult to explain; and therefore sense will be cheaply gained by a slight alteration.—Macbeth is assuring the assassins that they shall not want directions to find Banquo, and therefore says,
Acquaint you with a perfect spy o’ the time.
Accordingly a third murderer joins them afterwards at the place of action.
Perfect is well instructed, or well informed, as in this play,
Though in your state of honour I am perfect.
though I am well acquainted with your quality and rank. [Warburton explained this as “the critical juncture”] How the critical juncture is the spy o’ the time I know not, but I think my own conjecture right.
III.ii.38 (467,1) nature’s copy’s not eternal] The copy, the lease, by which they hold their lives from nature, has its time of termination limited.
III.iii.1 (469,6) But who did bid thee join with us?] The meaning of this abrupt dialogue is this. The perfect spy, mentioned by Macbeth in the foregoing scene, has, before they enter upon the stage, given them the directions which were promised at the time of their agreement; yet one of the murderers suborned suspects him of intending to betray them; the other observes, that, by his exact knowledge of what they were to do, he appears to be employed by Macbeth, and needs not be mistrusted.
III.iv.1 (470,9) You know your own degrees, sit down: at first,/And last the hearty welcome] As this passage stands [sit down:/At first and last], not only the numbers are very imperfect, but the sense, if any can be found, weak and contemptible. The numbers will be improved by reading,
—sit down at first,
And last a hearty welcome.
But for last should then be written next. I believe the true reading is,
You know your own degrees, sit down.—To first
And last the hearty welcome.
All of whatever degree, from the highest to the lowest, may be assured that their visit is well received.
III.iv.14 (471,1) ‘Tis better thee without, than he within] The sense requires that this passage should be read thus:
‘Tis better thee without, than him within.
That is, I am better pleased that the blood of Banquo should be on thy face than in his body.
The authour might mean, It is better that Banquo’s blood were on thy face, than he in this room. Expressions thus imperfect are common in his works.
III.iv.33 (472,2) the feast is sold] The meaning is,—That which ia not given cheerfully, cannot be called a gift, it is something that must be paid for. (1773)
III.iv.57 (473,3) extend his passion] Prolong his suffering; make his fit longer.
III.iv.60 (473,4) O proper stuff!] This speech is rather too long for the circumstances in which it is spoken. It had begun better at, Shame itself!
Oh, these flaws, and starts,
(Impostors to true fear,) would well become
A woman’s story at a winter’s fire,
Authoriz’d by her grandam]
Flaws, are sudden gusts. The authour perhaps wrote,
—Those flaws and starts,
Impostures true to fear would well become;
A woman’s story,—
These symptoms of terrour and amazement might better become impostures true only to fear, might become a coward at the recital of such falsehoods as no man could credit, whose understanding was not weaken’d by his terrours; tales told by a woman over a fire on the authority of her grandam.
III.iv.76 (474,6) Ere human statute purg’d the gentle weal] The gentle weal, is, the peaceable community, the state made quiet and safe by human statutes.
Mollia securae peragebant otia gentes.
III.iv.92 (475,7) And all to all] I once thought it should be hail to all, but I now think that the present reading is right.
III.iv.105 (475,8) If trembling I inhabit] This is the original reading, which Mr. Pope changed to inhibit, which inhibit Dr. Warburton interprets refuse. The old reading may stand, at least as well as the emendation. Suppose we read,
If trembling I evade it.
III.iv.110 (476,9) Can such things be,/And overcome us, like a summer’s cloud,/Without our special wonder?] [W: Can’t] The alteration is introduced by a misinterpretation. The meaning is not that these things are like a summer-cloud, but can such wonders as these pass over us without wonder, as a casual summer cloud passes over us.
III.iv.112 (477,1) You make me strange/Even to the disposition that I owe] You produce in me an alienation of mind, which is probably the expression which our author intended to paraphrase.
III.iv.124 (477,2) Augurs, and understood relations] By the word relation is understood the connection of effects with causes; to understand relations as an angur, is to know how these things relate to each other, which have no visible combination or dependence.
III.iv.141 (479,5) You lack the season of all natures, sleep] I take the meaning to be, you want sleep, which seasons, or gives the relish to all nature. Indiget somni vitae condimenti.
III.v.24 (480,8) vaporous drop, profound] That is, a drop that has profound, deep, or hidden qualities.
III.v.26 (480,9) slights] Arts; subtle practices.
III.vi (481,1) Enter Lenox, and another Lord] As this tragedy, like the rest of Shakespeare’s, is perhaps overstocked with personages, it is not easy to assign a reason why a nameless character should be introduced here, since nothing is said that might not with equal propriety have been put into the mouth of any other disaffected man. I believe therefore that in the original copy it was written with a very common form of contraction Lenox and An. for which the transcriber, instead of Lenox and Angus, set down Lenox and another Lord. The author had indeed been more indebted to the transcriber’s fidelity and diligence had he committed no errors of greater importance.
III.vi.36 (482,3) and receive free honours] [Free for grateful. WARBURTON.] How can free be grateful? It may be either honours freely bestowed, not purchased by crimes; or honours without slavery, without dread of a tyrant.
IV.i (484,5) As this is the chief scene of enchantment in the play, it is proper in this place to observe, with how much judgment Shakespeare has selected all the circumstances of his infernal ceremonies, and how exactly he has conformed to common opinions and traditions:
Thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d.
The usual form in which familiar spirits are reported to converse with witches, is that of a cat. A witch, who was tried about half a century before the time of Shakespeare, had a cat named Rutterkin, as the spirit of one of these witches was Grimalkin; and when any mischief was to be done she used to bid Rutterkin go and fly, but once when she would have sent Rutterkin to torment a daughter of the countess of Rutland, instead of going or flying, he only cried mew, from whence she discovered that the lady was out of his power, the power of witches being not universal, but limited, as Shakespeare has taken care to inculcate:
Though his bark cannot be lost,
Yet it shall be tempest-tost.
The common afflictions which the malice of witches produced were melancholy, fits, and loss of flesh, which are threatened by one of Shakespeare’s witches:
Weary sev’n nights, nine times nine,
Shall he dwindle, peak, and pine.
It was likewise their practice to destroy the cattle of their neighbours, and the farmers have to this day many ceremonies to secure their cows and other cattle from witchcraft; but they seem to have been most suspected of malice against swine. Shakespeare has accordingly made one of his witches declare that she has been killing swine, and Dr. Harsenet observes, that about that time, a sow could not be ill of the measles, nor a girl of the sullens, but some old woman was charged with witchcraft.
Toad, that under the cold stone,
Days and night has, thirty-one,
Swelter’d venom sleeping got;
Boil thou first i’the charm’d pot.
Toads have likewise long lain under the reproach of being by some means accessory to witchcraft, for which reason Shakespeare, in the first scene of this play, calls one of the spirits Padocke or Toad, and now takes care to put a toad first into the pot. When Vaninus was seized at Theleuse, there was found at his lodgings ingens Bufo Vitro inclusus, a great toad shut in a vial, upon which those that prosecuted him, Veneficium exprebrabent, charged him, I suppose, with witchcraft.
Fillet of fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bakae:
Eye of newt, and toe of frog;—
For a charm, &c.
The propriety of these ingredients may be known by consulting the books de Viribus Animalium and de Mirabilibus Mundi, ascribed to Albertus Magnus, in which the reader, who has time and credulity, may discover very wonderful secrets.
Finger of birth-strangled babe,
Ditch deliver’d by a drab;—
It has been already mentioned in the law against witches, that they are supposed to take up dead bodies to use in enchantments, which was confessed by the woman whom king James examined, and who had of a dead body that was divided in one of their assemblies, two fingers for her share. It is observable that Shakespeare, on this great occasion, which involves the fate of a king, multiplies all the circumstanaces of horror. The babe, whose finger is used, must be strangled in its birth; the grease must not only be human, but must have dropped from a gibbet, the gibbet of a murderer; and even the sow, whose blood is used, must have offended nature by devouring her own farrow. These are touches of judgment and genius.
And now about the cauldron sing—
Black spirits and white,
Blue spirits and grey,
Mingle, mingle, mingle,
You that mingle say.
And in a former part,
—weyward sisters, hand in hand,—
Thus do go about, about.
Thrice to thine, and thrice to mine.
And thrice again to make up nine!
These two passages I have brought together, because they both seem subject to the objection of too much levity for the solemnity of enchantment, and may both be shewn, by one quotation from Camden’s account of Ireland, to be founded upon a practice really observed by the uncivilised natives of that country: “When any one gets a fall, says the informer of Camden, he starts up, and, turning three times to the right, digs a hole in the earth; for they imagine that there is a spirit in the ground, and if he falls sick in two or three days, they send one of their women that is skilled in that way to the place, where she says, I call thee from the east, west, north, and south, from the groves, the woods, the rivers, and the fens, from the fairies red, black, white.” There was likewise a book written before the time of Shakespeare, describing, amongst other properties, the colours of spirits.
Many other circumstances might be particularised, in which Shakespeare has shown his judgment and his knowledge.
IV.i.53 (489,6) yesty waves] That is, foaming or frothy waves.
IV.i.88 (491,1) the round/And top of sovereignty?] This round is that part of the crown that encircles the head. The top is the ornament that rises above it.
IV.i.95 (492,3) Who can impress the forest] i.e. who can command the forest to serve him like a soldier impress’d. (1773)
IV.i.97 (492,4) Rebellious head, rise never] Mr. Theobald, who first proposed this change [“head” for “dead”] rightly observes, that head means host, or power.
—Douglas and the rebels met,
A mighty and a fearful head they are.
His divisions—are in three heads.
IV.i.113 (493,6) Thy crown does sear mine eye-balls] The expression of Macbeth, that the crown sears his eye-balls, is taken from the method formerly practised of destroying the sight of captives or competitors, by holding a burning bason before the eye, which dried up its humidity. Whence the Italian, abacinare, to blind.
IV.i.113 (493,7) And thy air,/Thou other gold-bound brow, is like the first:—/A third is like the former] In former editions,
—and thy hair,
Thou other gold-bound brow, is like the first:—
A third is like the former:—
As Macbeth expected to see a train of kings, and was only enquiring from what race they would proceed, he could not be surprised that the hair of the second was bound with gold like that of the first; he was offended only that the second resembled the first, as the first resembled Banquo, and therefore said,
—and thy air,
Thou other gold-bound brow, is like the first.
This Dr. Warburton has followed.
IV.i.144 (495,2) Time, thou anticipat’st my dread exploits] To anticipate is here to prevent, by taking away the opportunity.
IV.ii.9 (496,3) He wants the natural touch] Natural sensibility. He is not touched with natural affection.
IV.ii.71 (498,7) To do worse to you, were fell cruelty] To do worse is, to let her and her children be destroyed without warning.
IV.iii.2 (500,9) Let us rather/Hold fast the mortal sword; and, like good men,/ Bestride our down-faln birthdom] In former editions,
Let us rather
Hold fast the mortal sword; and, like good men,
Bestride our downfal birthdoom.—]
He who can discover what is meant by him that earnestly exhorts him to bestride his downfal birth-doom, is at liberty to adhere to the present text; but it is probable that Shakespeare wrote,
—like good men,
Bestride our downfaln birthdom—
The allusion is to a man from whom something valuable is about to be taken by violence, and who, that he may defend it without incombrance, lays it on the ground, and stands over it with his weapon in his hand. Our birthdom, or birthright, says he, lies on the ground, let us, like men who are to fight for what is dearest to them, not abandon it, but stand over it and defend it. This is a strong picture of obstinate resolution. So Falstaff says to Hal.
When I am down, if thou wilt bestride me, so.
Birthdom for birthright is formed by the same analogy with masterdom in this play, signifying the privileges or rights of a master.
Perhaps it might be birth-dame for mother; let us stand over our mother that lies bleeding on the ground.
IV.iii.19 (501,4) A good and virtuous nature may recoil/In an imperial charge] A good mind may recede from goodness in the execution of a royal commission.
IV.iii.23 (501,5) Though all things foul would wear the brows of grace,/Yet grace must look still so] This is not very clear. The meaning perhaps is this:—My suspicions cannot injure you, if you be virtuous, by supposing that a traitor may put on your virtuous appearance. I do not say that your virtuous appearance proves you a traitor; for virtue must wear its proper form, though that form be often counterfeited by villany.
IV.iii.26 (502,6) Why in that rawness left you wife and children] Without previous provision, without due preparation, without maturity of counsel.
IV.iii.33 (502,7) Wear thou thy wrongs] That is, Poor country, wear thou thy wrongs.
IV.iii.69 (503,1) Sudden, malicious] [Sudden, for capricious. WARBUR.] Rather violent, passionate, hasty.
IV.iii.85 (504,2) Than summer seeming lust] When I was younger and bolder I corrected it thus,
Than fume, or seething lust.
that is, Than angry passion, or boiling lust. (1773)
IV.iii.135 (506,4) All ready at a point] [W: at appoint] There is no need of change.
IV.iii.136 (506,5) and the chance of goodness/Be like our warranted quarrel!] The chance of goodness, as it is commonly read, conveys no sense. If there be not some more important errour in the passage, it should at least be pointed thus:
—and the chance, of goodness,
Be like our warranted quarrel!—
That is, may the event be, of the goodness of heaven, [pro justitia divina] answerable to the cause.
The author of the Revisal conceives the sense of the passage to be rather this: And may the success of that goodness, which is about to exert itself in my behalf, be such as may be equal to the justice of my quarrel.
But I am inclined to believe that Shakespeare wrote,
—and the chance, O goodness,
Be like our warranted quarrel!—
This some of his transcribers wrote with a small o, which another imagined to mean of. If we adopt this reading, the sense will be, and O thou sovereign Goodness, to whom we now appeal, may our fortune answer to our cause. (see 1765, VI, 462, 7)
IV.iii.170 (508,9) A modern ecstacy] I believe modern is only foolish or trifling.
IV.iii.196 (509,2), fee-grief] A peculiar sorrow; a grief that hath a single owner. The expression is, at least to our ears, very harsh.
IV.iii.216 (511,4) He has no children] It has been observed by an anonymous critic, that this is not said of Macbeth, who had children, but of Malcolm, who having none, supposes a father.
V.i.86 (515,8) My mind she has mated] [Conquer’d or subdued. POPE.] Rather astonished, confounded.
V.ii.24 (516,1) When all that is within him does condemn/Itself, for being there?] That is, when all the faculties of the mind are employed in self-condemnation.
V.iii.1 (516,2) Bring me no more reports] Tell me not any more of desertions—Let all ny subjects leave me—I am safe till, &c.
V.iii.8 (517,3) English Epicures] The reproach of Epicurism, on which Mr. Theobald has bestowed a note, is nothing more than a natural invective uttered by an inhabitant of a barren country, against, those who have more opportunities of luxury.
V.iii.22 (518,6) my way of life/Is fall’n into the sear] As there is no relation between the way of life, and fallen into the sear, I am inclined to think that the W is only an M inverted, and that it was originally written,
—my May of life.
I am now passed from the spring to the autumn of my days, but I am without those comforts that should succeed the spriteliness of bloom, and support me in this melancholy season.
The authour has May in the same sense elsewhere.
V.iv.8 (521,1) the confident tyrant/Keeps still in Dunsinane, and will endure/Our setting down before’t] He was confident of success; so confident that he would not fly, but endure their setting down before his castle.
V.iv.11 (521,2) For where there is advantage to be given,/ Both more and less have given him the revolt] The impropriety of the expression, advantage to be given, and the disagreeable repetition of the word given in the next line, incline me to read,
—where there is a ‘vantage to be gone,
Both more and less have given him the revolt.
Advantage or ‘vantage, in the time of Shakespeare, signified opportunity. He shut up himself and his soldiers, (says Malcolm) in the castle, because when there is an opportunity to be gone they all desert him.
More and less is the same with greater and less. So in the interpolated Mandeville, a book of that age, there is a chapter of India the More and the Less.
V.iv.20 (522,4) arbitrate]—arbitrate is determine.
V.v.11 (523,3) fell of hair] My hairy part, my capillitium. Fell is skin.
V.v.17 (523,7) She should have dy’d hereafter;/ There would have been a time for such a word] This passage has very justly been suspected of being corrupt. It is not apparent for what word there would have been a time, and that there would or would not be a time for any word seems not a consideration of importance sufficient to transport Macbeth into the following exclamation. I read therefore,
She should have dy’d hereafter.
There would have been a time for—such a world!—
It is a broken speech in which only part of the thought is expressed, and may be paraphrased thus: The queen is dead. Macbeth. Her death should have been deferred to some more peaceful hour; had she liv’d longer, there would at length have been a time for the honours due to her as a queen, and that respect which I owe her for her fidelity and love. Such is the world—such is the condition of human life, that we always think to-morrow will be happier than to-day, but to-morrow and to-morrow steals over us unenjoyed and unregarded, and we still linger in the same expectation to the moment appointed for our end. All these days, which have thus passed away, have sent multitudes of fools to the grave, who were engrossed by the same dream of future felicity, and, when life was departing from them, were, like me, reckoning on to-morrow.
Such was once my conjecture, but I am now less confident. Macbeth might mean, that there would have been a more convenient time for such a word, for such intelligence, and so fall into the following reflection. We say we send word when we give intelligence.
V.v.21 (524,8) To the last syllable of recorded time] Recorded time seems to signify the time fixed in the decrees of Heaven for the period of life. The record of futurity is indeed no accurate expression, but as we only know transactions past or present, the language of men affords no term for the volumes of prescience, in which future events may be supposed to be written.
V.v.23 (524,9) The way to dusty death] Dusty is a very natural epithet. The second folio has,
The way to study death.—
which Mr. Upton prefers, but it is only an errour by an accidental transposition of the types.
V.v.42 (525,2) I pull in resolution, and begin/To doubt the equivocation of the fiend,/ That lies like truth] Though this is the reading of all the editions, yet, as it is a phrase without either example, elegance or propriety, it is surely better to read,
I pall in resolution,—
I languish in my constancy, my confidence begins to forsake as.
It is scarcely necessary to observe how easily pall might be changed into pull by a negligent writer, or mistaken for it by an unskilful printer. With this emendation Dr. Warburton and Mr. Heath concur. (see 1765, VI,478,8)
V.viii.9 (529,3) the intrenchant air] That is, air which cannot be cut.
V.viii.20 (529,5) That palter with us in a double sense] That shuffle with ambiguous expressions.
V.viii.48 (531,7) Had I as many sons as I have hairs, I would not wish them to a fairer death]
This incident is thus related from Henry of Huntingdon by Camden in his Remains, from which our authour probably copied it.
When Seyward, the martial earl of Northumberland, understood that his son, whom he had sent in service against the Scotchmen, was slain, he demanded whether his wounds were in the fore part or hinder part of his body. When it was answered, in the fore part, he replied, “I am right glad; neither wish I any other death to me or mine.”
General Observation. This play is deservedly celebrated for the propriety of its fictions, and solemnity, grandeur, and variety of its action; but it has no nice discriminations of character, the events are too great to admit the influence of particular dispositions, and the course of the action necessarily determines the conduct of the agents.
The danger of ambition is well described; and I know not whether it may not be said in defence of some parts which now seem improbable, that, in Shakespeare’s time, it was necessary to warn credulity against vain and illusive predictions.
The passions are directed to their true end. Lady Macbeth is merely detested; and though the courage of Macbeth preserves some esteem, yet every reader rejoices at his fall.
1.i.19 (292,1) but they think, we are too dear] They think that the charge of maintaining us is more than we are worth.
I.i.23 (292,3) ere we become rakes] It is plain that, in our authour’s time, we had the proverb, as lean as a rake. Of this proverb the original is obscure. Rake now signifies a dissolute man, a man worn out with disease and debauchery. But the signification is, I think, much more modern than the proverb. Raekel, in Islandick, is said to mean a cur-dog, and this was probably the first use among us of the word rake; as lean as a rake is, therefore, as lean as it dog too worthless to be fed.
1.i.94 (294,4) I will venture/To scale’t a little more] [Warburton had taken Theobald to task for emending to “stale’t”, offering two quotations to prove that “scale” meant “apply.”] Neither of Dr. Warburton’s examples afford a sense congruous to the present occasion. In the passage quoted, to scale may be to weigh and compare, but where do we find that scale is to apply? If we scale the two criticks, I think Theobald has the advantage.
I.i.97 (295,5) fob off our disgraces with a tale] Disgraces are hardships, injuries.
I.i.104 (295,6) where the other instruments] Where for whereas.
I.i.112 (296,7) Which ne’er came from the lungs] with a smile not indicating pleasure, but contempt.
I.i.120 (296,9) The counsellor heart] The heart was anciently esteemed the seat of prudence. Homo cordatum is a prudent man.
I.i.163 (297,1) Thou rascal, that art worst in blood, to ruin,/ Lead’st first, to win some ‘vantage] I think, we may better read, by an easy change, Thou rascal that art worst, in blood, to ruin [to run] Lead’st first, to win, &c.
Thou that art the meanest by birth, art the foremost to lead thy fellows to ruin, in hope of some advantage. The meaning, however, is perhaps only this, Thou that art a hound, or running dog of the lowest breed, lead’st the pack, when any thing is to be gotten. (see 1765, VI, 493, 1)
I.i.172 (298,4) What would you have, ye curs,/ That like not peace, nor war? The one affrights you,/ The other makes you proud] [W: likes] That to like is to please, every one knows, but in that sense it is as hard to say why peace should not like the people, as, in the other sense, why the people should not like peace. The truth is, that Coriolanus does not use the two sentences consequentially, but reproaches them with unsteadiness, then with their other occasional vices.
I.i.202 (300,6) I’d make a quarry/With thousands] Why a quarry? I suppose, not because he would pile them square, but because he would give them for carrion to the birds of prey.
I.i.215 (300,7) To break the heart of generosity] To give the final blow to the nobles. Generosity is high birth.
I.i.231 (301,8) ’tis true, that yon have lately told us./The Volscians are in arms] Coriolanus had been but just told himself that the Volscians were in arms. The meaning is, The intelligence which you gave us some little time ago of the designs of the Volscians is now verified; they are in arms.
I.i.255 (302,8) Your valour puts well forth] That is, You have in this mutiny shewn fair blossoms of valour.
I.i.260 (303,9) to gird. To sneer, to gibe. So Falstaff uses the noun, when he says, every man has a gird at me.
I.i.281 (304,3) in what fashion,/More than his singularity he goes/ Upon this present action] We will learn what he is to do, besides going himself; what are his powers, and what is his appointment.
I.ii.28 (305,4) for the remove/Bring up your army] [W:’fore they] I do not see the nonsense or impropriety of the old reading. Says the senator to Aufidius, Go to your troops, we will garrison Corioli. If the Romans besiege us, bring up your army to remove them. If any change should be made, I would read,
—for their remove.
I.iii.16 (307,5) brows bound with oak] The crown given by the Romans to him that saved the life of a citizen, which was accounted more honourable than any other.
I.iv.14 (311,9) nor a man that fears you less than he,/That’s lesser than a little] The sense requires it to be read,
nor a man that fears you more than he,
Or more probably,
nor a man but fears you less than he,
That’s lesser than a little.
I.v.5 (314,4) prize their hours] In the first edition it is, prize their hours. I know not who corrected it [to prize their honours]. A modern editor, who had made such an improvement, would have spent half a page in ostentation of his sagacity.
I.vi.36 (317,6) Ransoming him, or pitying] i.e. remitting his ransom.
I.vi.61 (318,8) swords advanc’d] That is, swords lifted high.
I.vi.83 (319,9) Please you to march,/And four shall quickly draw out my command,/Which men are best inclin’d] I cannot but suspect this passage of corruption. Why should they march, that four might select those that were best inclin’d? How would their inclinations be known? Who were the four that should select them? Perhaps, we may read,
—Please you to march,
And fear shall quickly draw out of my command,
Which men are least inclin’d.
It is easy to conceive that, by a little negligence, fear might be changed to four, and least to best. Let us march, and that fear which incites desertion will free my army from cowards. (see 1765, VI, 512, 1)
I.viii.11 (320,1) Wert thou the Hector,/That was the whip of your bragg’d progeny] The Romans boasted themselves descended from the Trojans, how then was Hector the whip of their progeny? It must mean the whip with which the Trojans scourged the Greeks, which cannot be but by a very unusual construction, or the authour must have forgotten the original of the Romans; unless whip has some meaning which includes advantage or superiority, as we say, he has the whip-hand, for he has theadvantage.
I.viii.14 (321,2) you have sham’d me/In your condemned seconds] For condemned, we may read contemned. You have, to my shane, sent me help which I despise.
I.ix.12 (321,4) Here is the steed, we the caparisons!] This is an odd encomium. The meaning is, this man performed the action, and we only filled up the show.
I.ii.14 (322,5) a charter to extol] A privilege to praise her own son.
I.ix.29 (322,6) Should they not] That is, not be remembered.
I.ix.72 (325,9) To the fairness of any power] [Fairness, for utmost. WARE.] I know not how fairness can mean utmost. When two engage on equal terms, we say it is fair; fairness may therefore be equality; in proportion equal to my power.
I.ix.76 (325,1) The best] The chief men of Corioli.
I.x.5 (326,3) Being a Volsce, be that I am] It may be just observed, that Shakespeare calls the Volsci, Volsces, which the modern editors have changed to the modern termination [Volscian]. I mention it here, because here the change has spoiled the measure. Being a Volsce, be that I am. Condition. [Steevans restored Volsce in the text.]
I.x.17 (326,2) My valour’s poison’d,/With only suffering stain by him, for him/ Shall flie out of itself] To mischief him, my valour should deviate from its own native generosity.
I.x.25 (327,4) At home, upon my brother’s guard] In my own house, with my brother posted to protect him.
II.i.8 (328,5) Pray you, who does the wolf love?] When the tribune, in reply to Menenius’s remark, on the people’s hate of Coriolanus, had observed that even beasts know their friends, Menenius asks, whom does the wolf love? implying that there are beasts which love nobody, and that among those beasts are the people.
II.i.43 (329,6) towards the napes of your necks] With allusion to the fable, which says, that every man has a bag hanging before him, in which he puts his neighbour’s faults, and another behind him, in which he stows his own.
II.i.56 (330,7) one that converses more with the buttock of the night, than with the forehead of the morning] Rather a late lier down than an early riser.
II.i.84 (330,1) set up the bloody flag against all patience] That is, declare war against patience. There is not wit enough in this satire to recompense its grossness.
II.i.105 (331,2) herdsmen of beastly Plebeians] As kings are called [Greek: poimenes laon].
II.i.115 (331,3) Take my cap, Jupiter, and I thank thee] [W: cup] Shakespeare so often mentions throwing up caps in this play, that Menenius may be well enough supposed to throw up his cap in thanks to Jupiter.
II.i.146 (333,4) possest of this?] Possest, in our authour’s language, is fully informed.
II.i.178 (334,6) Which being advanc’d, declines] Volumnia, in her boasting strain, says, that her son to kill his enemy, has nothing to do but to lift his hand up and let it fall.
II.i.232 (337,3) Commit the war of white and damask, in/Their nicely gawded cheeks] [W: wars] Has the commentator never heard of roses contending with lilies for the empire of a lady’s cheek? The opposition of colours, though not the commixture, may be called a war.
II.i.235 (338,1) As if that whatsoever God] That is, as if that God who leads him, whatsoever God he be.
II.i.241 (338,2) From where he should begin, and end] Perhaps it should be read,
From where he should begin t’an end.—
II.i.247 (338,3) As he is proud to do’t] [I should rather think the author wrote prone: because the common reading is scarce sense or English. WARBURTON.] Proud to do, is the same as, proud of doing, very plain sense, and very common English.
II.i.285 (340,4) carry with us ears and eyes] That is, let us observe what passes, but keep our hearts fixed on our design of crushing Coriolanus.
II.ii.19 (340,5) he wav’d indifferently] That is, he would wave indifferently.
II.ii.29 (341,6) supple and courteous to the people; bonnetted] The sense, I think, requires that we should read, unbonnetted. Who have risen only by pulling off their hats to the people. Bonnetted may relate to people, but not without harshness.
II.ii.57 (342,7) Your loving motion toward the common body] Your kind interposition with the common people.
II.ii.64 (342,9) That’s off, that’s off] That is, that is nothing to the purpose.
II.ii.82 (343,1) how can he flatter] The reasoning of Menenius is this: How can he be expected to practice flattery to others, who abhors it so much, that he cannot bear it even when offered to himself.
II.ii.92 (343,2) When Tarquin made a head for Rome] When Tarquin, who had been expelled, raised a power to recover Rome.
II.ii.113 (344,6) every motion/Was tim’d with dying cries] The cries of the slaughter’d regularly followed his motions, as musick and a dancer accompany each ether.
II.ii.115 (345,7) The mortal gate] The gate that was made the scene of death.
II.ii.127 (345,8) He cannot but with measure fit the honours] That is, no honour will be too great far him; he will show a mind equal to any elevation.
His deeds with doing them; and is content
To spend his time, to end it]
I know not whether my conceit will be approved, but I cannot forbear to think that our author wrote thus.
His deeds with doing them, and is content
To spend his time, to spend it.
To do great acts, for the sake of doing them; to spend his life, for the sake of spending it.
II.iii.4 (348,2) We have power in ourselves to do it, but it is a power that we have no power to do] [Warburton saw this as “a ridicule on the Augustine manner of defining free-will.”] A ridicule may be intended, but the sense is clear enough. Power first signifies natural power or force, and then moral power or right. Davies has used the same word with great variety of meaning.
Use all thy powers that heavenly power to praise,
That gave thee power to do.—
II.iii.18 (348,3) many-headed multitude] Hanmer reads, many-headed monster, but without necessity. To be many-headed includes monstrousness.
II.iii.115 (352,7) I will not seal your knowledge] I will not strengthen or compleat your knowledge. The seal is that which gives authenticity to a writing.
Why in this woolvish tongue should I stand here
To beg of Bob and Dick, that do appear,
Their needless vouches?]
Why stand I here in this ragged apparel to beg of Bob and Dick, and such others as make their appearance here, their unnecessary votes. I rather think we should read [instead of voucher], Their needless vouches. But voucher may serve, as it may perhaps signify either the act or the agent.
II.iii.122 (352) this woolvish gown] Signifies this rough hirsute gown.
II.iii.182 (355,1) ignorant to see’t?] [W: “ignorant” means “impotent”] That ignorant at any time has, otherwise than consequentially, the same meaning with impotent, I do not know. It has no such meaning in this place. Were you ignorant to see it, is, did you want knowledge to discern it.
II.iii.208 (356,2) free contempt] That is, with contempt open and unrestrained.
II.iii.227 (357,4) Enforce his pride] Object his pride, and enforce the objection.
II.iii.258 (358,7) Scaling his present bearing with his past] That is, weighing his past and present behaviour.
II.iii.267 (359,8) observe and answer/The vantage of his anger] Mark, catch, and improve the opportunity, which his hasty anger will afford us.
III.i.23 (360,9) prank them in authority] Plume, deck, dignify themselves.
III.i.58 (362,3) This paltring/Becomes not Rome] That is, this trick of dissimulation, this shuffling.
Let these be no more believ’d
That palter with us in a double sense. Macbeth.
III.i.60 (362,4) laid falsly] Falsly for treacherously.
III.i.66 (362,5) Let them regard me, as I do not flatter, and/ Therein behold themselves] Let them look in the mirror which I hold up to them, a mirror which does not flatter, and see themselves.
III.i.89 (363,6) minnows] a minnow is one of the smallest river fish, called in some counties a pink.
III.i.90 (364,6) ‘Twas from the canon] Was contrary to the established role; it was a form of speech to which he has no right.
III.i.98 (364,9) Then vail your ignorance] [W: “ignorance” means “impotence.”] Hanmer’s transposition deserves notice
—If they have power,
Let them have cushions by you; if none, awake
Your dang’rous lenity; if you are learned,
Be not as commmon fools; if you are not,
Then vail your ignorance. You are Plebeians, &c.
I neither think the transposition of one editor right, nor the interpretation of the other. The sense is plain enough without supposing ignorance to have any remote or consequential sense. If this man has power, let the ignorance that gave it him vail or bow down before him.
III.i.101 (365,1) You are Plebeians,
If they be Senators: and they are no less,
When, both your voices blended, the greatest taste
Most palates theirs]
These lines may, I think, be made more intelligible by a very slight correction.
—they no less [than senators]
When, both your voices blended, the great’st taste
Must palate theirs.
When the taste of the great, the patricians, must palate, must please [or must try] that of the plebeians.
III.i.124 (366,3) They would not thread the gates] That is, pass them. We yet say, to thread an alley.
III.i.129 (366,4) could never be the native] [Native for natural birth. WARBURTON.] Native is here not natural birth, but natural parent, or cause of birth. But I would read motive, which, without any distortion of its meaning, suits the speaker’s purpose.
III.i.151 (367,7) That love the fundamental part of state/More than you doubt the change of’t] To doubt is to fear. The meaning is, You whose zeal predominates over your terrours; you who do not so much fear the danger of violent measures, as wish the good to which they are necessary, the preservation of the original constitution of our government.
III.i.158 (368,2) Mangles true judgment] Judgment is judgment in its common sense, or the faculty by which right is distinguished from wrong.
III.i.159 (368,3) that integrity which should become it] Integrity is in this place soundness, uniformity, consistency, in the same sense as Dr. Warburton often uses it, when he mentions the integrity of a metaphor. To become, is to suit, to befit.
III.i.221 (370,5) are very poisonous] I read, are very poisons.
III.i.242 (371,7) One time will owe another] I know not whether to owe in this place means to possess by right, or to be indebted. Either sense may be admitted. One time, in which the people are seditious, will give us power in some other time; or,this time of the people’s predominance will run them in debt; that is, will lay them open to the law, and expose them hereafter to more servile subjection.
III.i.248 (372,8) Before the tag return] The lowest and most despicable of the populace are still denominated by those a little above them, Tag, rag, and bobtail. (1773)
III.ii.7 (376,4) I muse] That is, I wonder. I am at a loss.
III.ii.12 (376,5) my ordinance] My rank.
III.ii.51 (378,8) Why force you] Why urge you.
III.ii.56 (378,9) bastards, and syllables/Of no allowance, to your bosom’s truth] I read,
Of no alliance,—
therefore bastards. Yet allowance may well enough stand, as meaning legal right, established rank, or settled authority. (see 1765, VI, 566, 7)
III.ii.64 (379,1) I am in this/Your wife, your son] I rather think the meaning is, I am in their condition, I am at stake, together with your wife, your son.
III.ii.66 (379,2) our general lowts] Our common clowns.
III.ii.69 (379,3) that want] The want of their loves.
III.ii.71 (379,4) Not what] In this place not seems to signify not only.
III.ii.77 (379,5) Waving thy head,/With often, thus, correcting thy stout heart] [W: thy hand,/Which soften thus] The correction is ingenious, yet I think it not right. Head or hand is indifferent. The hand is waved to gain attention; the head is shaken in token of sorrow. The word wave suits better to the hand, but in considering the authour’s language, too much stress must not be laid on propriety against the copies. I would read thus,
—waving thy head,
With often, thus, correcting thy stout heart.
That is, shaking thy head, and striking thy breast. The alteration is slight, and the gesture recommended not improper.
III.ii.99 (381,6) my unbarb’d sconce?] The suppliants of the people used to present themselves to them in sordid and neglected dresses.
III.ii.113 (381,8) Which quired with my drum] Which played in concert with my drum.
III.ii.116 (382,1) Tent in my cheeks] To tent is to take up residence.
III.ii.121 (382,2) honour mine own truth] [Greek: Panton de malis aischuneui sauton]. Pythagoras.
III.ii.125 (382,3) let/Thy mother rather feel thy pride, than fear/ Thy dangerous stoutness] This is obscure. Perhaps, she means, Go, do thy worst; let me rather feel the utmost extremity that thy pride can bring upon us, than live thus in fear of thy dangerous obstinacy.
Insisting on the old prerogative
And power in’ the truth o’ the cause]
This is not very easily understood. We might read,
—o’er the truth o’ the cause.
III.iii.26 (384,4) and to have his word/Of contradiction] To have his word of contradiction is no more than, he is used to contradict; and to have his word, that is, not to be opposed. We still say of an obstinate disputant, he will have the last word.
III.iii.29 (384,5) which looks/With us to break his neck] To look is to wait or expect. The sense I believe is, What he has in his heart is waiting there to help us to break his neck.
III.iii.57 (386,8) Rather than envy you] Envy is here taken at large for malignity or ill intention.
III.iii.64 (386,9) season’d office] All office established and settled by time, and made familiar to the people by long use.
III.iii.96 (387,1) has now at last] Read rather,
—has now at last [instead of as now at last].
III.iii.97 (387,2) not in the presence] Not stands again for not only.
III.iii.114 (388,3) My dear wife’s estimate] I love my country beyond the rate at which I value my dear wife.
Have the power still
To banish your defenders’; till, at length,
Your ignorance, (which finds not, till it feels)]
Still retain the power of banishing your defenders, till your undiscerning folly, which can foresee no consequences, leave none in the city but yourselves, who are always labouring your own destruction.
It is remarkable, that, among the political maxims of the speculative Harrington, there is one which he might have borrowed from this speech. The people, says he, cannot see, but they can feel. It is not much to the honour of the people, that they have the same character of stupidity from their enemy and their friend. Such was the power of our authour’s mind, that he looked through life in all its relations private and civil.
IV.i.7 (390,1) Fortune’s blows,/When most struck home, being gentle wounded, craves/A noble cunning] This it the ancient and authentick reading. The modern editors have, for gentle wounded, silently substituted gently warded, and Dr. Warburton has explained gently by nobly. It is good to be sure of our authour’s words before we go about to explain their meaning.
The sense is, When Fortune strikes her hardest blows, to be wounded, and yet continue calm, requires a generous policy. He calls this calmness cunning, because it is the effect of reflection and philosophy. Perhaps the first emotions of nature are nearly uniform, and one man differs from another in the power of endurance, as he is better regulated by precept and instruction.
They bore as heroes, but they felt as men.
(see 1765, VI, 577, 9)
IV.i.33 (391,3) cautelous baits and practice] By artful and false tricks, and treason.
Sic. Are you mankind?
Vol. Ay, fool; Is that a shame? Note but this fool.
Was not a man my father?]
The word mankind is used maliciously by the first speaker, and taken perversely by the second. A mankind woman is a woman with the roughness of a man, and, in an aggravated sense, a woman ferocious, violent, and eager to shed blood. In this sense Sicinius asks Volumnia, if she be mankind. She takes mankind for a human creature, and accordingly cries out,
—Note but this, fool.
Was not a man my father?
IV.ii.18 (394,7) Hadst thou foxship] Hadst thou, fool as thou art, mean cunning enough to banish Coriolanus?
IV.iii.9 (395,7) but your favour is well appear’d by your tongue] [W: well appeal’d] I should read,
—is well affear’d,
That is, strengthened, attested, a word used by our authour.
My title is affear’d. Macbeth.
To repeal may be to bring to remembrance, but appeal has another meaning.
IV.iii.48 (397,8) already in the entertainment] That is, tho’ not actually encamped, yet already in pay. To entertain an army is to take them into pay.
So, with me:—
My birth-place hate I, and my love’s upon
This enemy’s town:—I’ll enter: if he slay me]
He who reads this [My country have I and my lovers left;/This enemy’s town I’ll enter] would think that he was reading the lines of Shakespeare: except that Coriolanus, being already in the town, says, he will enter it. Yet the old edition exhibits it thus
—So with me.
My birth-place have I; and my loves upon
This enemic towne; I’ll enter if he slay me, &c.
The intermediate line seems to be lost, in which, conformably to his former observation, he says, that he has lost his birth-place, and his loves upon a petty dispute, and is trying his chance in this enemy town, he then cries, turning to the house of Anfidius, I’ll enter if he slay me.
I have preferred the common reading, because it is, though faulty, yet intelligible, and the original passage, for want of copies, cannot be restored.
IV.v.76 (403,3) a good memory] The Oxford editor, not knowing that memory was used at that time for memorial, alters it to memorial.
IV.v.90 (403,4) A heart of wreak in thee] A heart of resentment.
IV.v.91 (403,5) maims/Of shame] That is, disgraceful diminutions of territory.
IV.v.207 (406,5) sanctifies himself with’s hands] Alluding, improperly, to the act of crossing upon any strange event.
IV.v.212 (407,6) He will go, he says, and sowle the porter of Rome gates by the ears] That is, I suppose, drag him down by the ears into the dirt. Souiller, Fr.
IV.v.214 (407,7) his passage poll’d] That is, bared, cleared.
IV.v.238 (408,8) full of vent] Full of rumour, full of materials for discourse.
IV.vi.2 (408,1) His remedies are tame i’ the present peace] The old reading is,
His remedies are tame, the present peace.
I do not understand either line, but fancy it should be read thus,
—neither need we fear him;
His remedies are ta’en, the present peace,
And quietness o’ the people,—
The meaning, somewhat harshly expressed, according to our authour’s custom, is this: We need not fear him, the proper remedies against him are taken, by restoring peace and quietness.
IV.vi.32 (410,2) affecting one sole throne,/Without assistance] That is, without assessors; without any other suffrage.
IV.vi.51 (411,3) reason with the fellow] That is, have some talk with him. In this sense Shakespeare often uses the word.
IV.vi.72 (412,4) can no more atone] To atone, in the active sense, is to reconcile, and is so used by our authour. To atone here, is, in the neutral sense, to come to reconciliation. To atone is to unite.
IV.vi.85 (412,5) burned in their cement] [W: “cement” for “cincture or inclosure”] Cement has here its common signification.
IV.vi.98 (413,5) The breath of garlick-eaters!] To smell of garlick was once such a brand of vulgarity, that garlick was a food forbidden to an ancient order of Spanish knights, mentioned by Guevara.
they charge him even
As those should do that had deserv’d his hate,
And therein shew’d like enemies]
Their charge or injunction would shew them insensible of his wrongs, and make them shew like enemies. I read shew, not shewed, like enemies.
IV.vi.124 (414,8) They’ll roar him in again] As they hooted at his departure, they will roar at his return; as he went out with scoffs, he will come back with lamentations.
Which out of daily fortune ever taints
The happy man; whether]
Ausidius assigns three probable reasons of the miscarriage of Coriolanus; pride, which easily follows an uninterrupted train of success; unskilfulness to regulate the consequences of his own victories; a stubborn uniformity of nature, which could not make the proper transition from the casque or helmet to the cushion or chair of civil authority; but acted with the same despotism in peace as in war.
IV.vii.48 (418,2) he has a merit,/To choak it in the utterance] He has a merit, for no other purpose than to destroy it by boasting it.
IV.vii.55 (418,4) Right’s by right fouler] [W: fouled] I believe rights, like strengths, is a plural noon. I read,
Rights by rights founder, strengths by strengths do fail.
That is, by the exertion of one right another right is lamed.
V.i.20 (420,2) It was a bare petition] [Bare, for mean, beggarly. WARBURTON.] I believe rather, a petition unsupported, unaided by names that might give it influence.
V.i.63 (422,4) I tell you, he does sit in gold] He is inthroned in all the pomp and pride of imperial splendour.
[Greek: Chruzothronos Aerae]—Hom.
V.i.69 (422,5) Bound with an oath to yield to his conditions] This if apparently wrong. Sir T. Hanmer, and Dr. Warburton after him, read,
Bound with an oath not to yield to new conditions.
They might have read more smoothly,
—to yield no new conditions.
But the whole speech is in confusion, and I suspect something left out. I should read,
—What he would do,
He sent in writing after; what he would not,
Bound with an oath. To yield to his conditions.
Here is, I think, a chasm. The speaker’s purpose seems to be this: To yield to his conditions is ruin, and better cannot be obtained, so that all hope is vain.
V.ii.10 (424,7) it is lots to blanks] A lot here is a prize.
For I have ever verify’d my friends,
(Of whom he’s chief) with all the size that verity
Would without lapsing suffer]
[W: narrified] [Hanmer: magnified] If the commentator had given any example of the word narrify, the correction would have been not only received, but applauded. Now, since the new word stands without authority, we must try what sense the old one will afford. To verify is to establish by testimony. One may say with propriety, he brought false witnesses to verify his title. Shakespeare considered the word with his usual laxity, as importing rather testimony than truth, and only meant to say, I bore witness to my friends with all the size that verity would suffer.
V.ii.45 (426,1) the virginal palms of your daughters] [W: pasmes or pames, French for “swooning fits.” Warburton also quotes Tarquin and Lucrece, “To dry the old oak’s sap, and cherish springs” and emends to “tarnish,” from the French, meaning “to dry up,” used of springs and rivers.] I have inserted this note, because it contains an apology for many others. It is not denied that many French words were mingled in the time of Elizabeth with our language, which have since been ejected, and that any which are known to have been then in use may be properly recalled when they will help the sense. But when a word is to be admitted, the first question should be, by whom was it ever received? in what book can it be shown? If it cannot be proved to have been in use, the reasons which can justify its reception must be stronger than any critick will often have to bring. Even in this certain emendation, the new word is very liable to contest. I should read,
—and perish springs.
The verb perish is commonly neutral, but in conversation is often used actively, and why not in the works of a writer negligent beyond all others of grammatical niceties?
V.ii.60 (427,2) Back, I say, go; lest I let forth your half pint of blood;—back, that’s the utmost of your having:—Back] [Warburton emended the punctuation] I believe the meaning never was mistaken, and therefore do not change the reading.
V.ii.69 (428,3) guess by my entertainment with him] I read, Guess by my entertainment with him, if thou standest not i’ the state of hanging [in place of guess but my entertainment].
V.ii.80 (428,4) Though I owe/My revenge properly] Though I have a peculiar right in revenge, in the power of forgiveness the Volacians are conjoined.
V.ii.104 (429,5) how we are shent] Shent is brought to destruction.
V.iii.3 (430,6) how plainly/I have born this business] That is, how openly, how remotely from artifice or concealment.
V.iii.39 (431,7) The sorrow, that delivers us thus chang’d,/Makes you think so] Virgilia makes a voluntary misinterpretation of her husband’s words. He says, These eyes are not the same, meaning, that he saw things with other eyes, or otherdispositions. She lays hold on the word eyes, to turn his attention on their present appearance.
V.iii.46 (431,8) Now by the jealous queen of heaven] That is, by Juno, the guardian of marriage, and consequently the avenger of connubial perfidy.
V.iii.64 (432,1) The noble sister of Poplicola] Valeria, methinks, should not have been brought only to fill up the procession without speaking.
V.iii.68 (432,2) epitome of yours] I read,
—epitome of you.
An epitome of you which, enlarged by the commentaries of time, may equal you in magnitude.
V.iii.74 (433,4) every flaw] That is, every gust, every storm.
V.iii.100 (435,2) Constrains them weep, and shake] That is, constrain the eye to weep, and the heart to shake.
V.iii.149 (436,3) the fine strains] The niceties, the refinements.
V.iii.159 (436,5) he lets me prate,/Like one i’ the stocks] Keep me in a state of ignominy talking to no purpose.
V.iii.176 (437,6) Does reason our petition] Does argue for us and our petition.
V.iii.201 (438,7) I’ll work/Myself a former fortune] I will take advantage of this concession to restore myself to my former credit and power.
V.iii.206 (438,8) Come, enter with us,—Ladies, you deserve] [Warburton proposed to give the speech beginning “Ladies, you deserve” to Aufidius] The speech suits Aufidius justly enough, if it had been written for him; but it may, without impropriety, be spoken by Coriolanus: and since the copies give it to him, why should we dispossess him?
V.iv.22 (439,1) He sits in state as a thing made for Alexander] In a foregoing note he was said to sit in gold. The phrase, as a thing made for Alexander, means, as one made to resemble Alexander.
V.vi.39 (443,2) He wag’d me with his countenance] This is obscure. The meaning, I think, is, he prescribed to me vith an air of authority, and gave me his countenance for my wages; thought me sufficiently rewarded with good looks.
V.vi.44 (443,3) For which my sinews shall be stretch’d upon him] This is the point on which I will attack him with my utmost abilities.
V.vi.66 (444,4) answering us/With our own charge] That is, rewarding us with our own expences; making the cost of the war its recompence.
V.vi.125 (446,5) his fame folds in/This orbe o’ th’ earth] His fame overspreads the world.
(447) General Observation. The tragedy of Coriolanus is one of the most amusing of our author’s performances. The old man’s merriment in Menenius; the lofty lady’s dignity in Volumnia; the bridal modesty in Virgilia; the patrician and military haughtiness in Coriolanus; the plebeian malignity and tribunitian insolence in Brutus and Sicinius, make a very pleasing and interesting variety: and the various revolutions of the hero’s fortune fill the mind with anxious curiosity. There is, perhaps, too much bustle in the first act, and too little in the last.
I.i.20 (4,2) Mar. What meanest thou by that?] [Theobald gave this speech to Flavius] I have replaced Marullus, who might properly enough reply to a saucy sentence directed to his colleague, and to whom the speech was probably given, that he might not stand too long unemployed upon the stage.
I.ii.25 (7,5) [Sennet. Exeunt Caesar and Train] I have here inserted the word Sennet, from the original edition, that I may have an opportunity of retracting a hasty conjecture in one of the marginal directions in Henry VIII. Sennet appears to be a particular tune or mode of martial musick.
I.ii.35 (8,6) You bear too stubborn and too strange a hand] Strange, is alien, unfamiliar, such as might become a stranger.
I.ii.39 (8,7) Vexed I am,/Of late, with passions of some difference] With a fluctation of discordant opinions and desires.
I.ii.73 (9,9) To stale with ordinary oaths my love/To every new protester] To invite every new protestor to my affection by the stale or allurement of customary oaths.
I.ii.87 (10,1) And I will look on both indifferently] Dr. Warburton has a long note on this occasion, which is very trifling. When Brutus first names honour and death, he calmly declares them indifferent; but as the image kindles in his mind, he sets honourabove life. Is not this natural?
I.ii.160 (12,6) eternal devil] I should think that our author wrote rather, infernal devil.
I.ii.171 (13,7) chew upon this] Consider this at leisure; ruminate on this.
I.ii.186 (13,8) Looks with such ferret, and such fiery eyes] A ferret has red eyes.
I.ii.268 (16,2) a man of any occupation] Had I been a mechanick, one of the Plebeians to whom he offered his threat.
I.ii.313 (17,3) Thy honourable metal may be wrought/From what it is dispos’d] The best metal or temper may be worked into qualities contrary to its original constitution.
I.ii.318 (17,4) If I were Brutus now, and he were Cassius,/He should not humour me] The meaning, I think, is this, Caesar loves Brutus, but if Brutus and I were to change places, his love should not humour me, should not take hold of my affection, so as to make me forget my principles.
I.iii.1 (18,5) brought you Caesar home?] Did you attend Caesar home?
I.iii.3 (18,6) sway of earth] The whole weight or momentum of this globe.
I.iii.21 (19,7) Who glar’d upon me] The first edition reads,
Who glaz’d upon me,—
Perhaps, Who gaz’d upon me.
I.iii.64 (20,8) Why birds, and beasts, from quality and kind] That is, Why they deviate from quality and nature. This line might perhaps be more properly placed after the next line.
Why birds, and beasts, from quality and kind;
Why all these things change from their ordinance.
I.iii.65 (20,9) and children calculate] [Shakespeare, with his usual liberty, employs the species [calculate] for the genus foretel]. WARB.] Shakespeare found the liberty established. To calculate a nativity, is the technical term.
I.iii.l14 (22,2) My answer must be made] I shall be called to account, and must answer as for seditious words.
I.iii.117 (22,3) Hold my hand] Is the same as, Here’s my hand.
I.iii.118 (22,4) Be factious for redress] Factious seems here to mean active.
I.iii.129 (23,5) It favours, like the work] The old edition reads,
It favours, like the work—
I think we should read,
In favour’s, like the work we have in hand,
Most bloody, fiery, and most terrible.
Favour is look, countenance, appearance. (rev. 1778, VIII, 25, 7)
II.i.19 (25,6) Remorse from power] [Remorse, for mercy. WARB.] Remorse (says the Author of the Ravisal) signifies the conscious uneasiness arising from a sense of having done wrong; to extinguish which feeling, nothing hath so great a tendency as absolute uncontrouled power.
I think Warbuton right. (1773)
II.i.21 (25,7) common proof] Common experiment.
II.i.26 (25,8) base degrees] Low steps.
II.i.33 (26,9) as his kind] According to his nature.
Between the acting of a dreadful thing,
And the first motion, all the interim is
Like a phantasma, or a hideous dream:
The genius, and the mortal instruments
Are then in council; and the state of man,
Like to a little kingdom, suffers then
The nature of an insurrection]
The [Greek: deinon] of the Greek critics does not, I think, mean sentiments which raise fear, more than wonder, or any other of the tumultuous passions; [Greek: to deinon] is that which strikes, which astonishes, with the idea either of some great subject, or of the author’s abilities.
Dr. Warburton’a pompous criticism might well have been shortened. The genius is not the genius of a kingdom, nor are the instruments, conspirators. Shakespeare is describing what passes in a single bosom, the insurrection which a conspirator feels agitating the little kingdom of his own mind; when the Genius, or power that watches for his protection, and the mortal instruments, the passions, which excite him to a deed of honour and danger, are in council and debate; when the desire of action and the care of safety, keep the mind in continual fluctuation and disturbance.
II.i.76 (29,5) any mark of favour] Any distinction of countenance.
II.i.83 (30,6) For if thou path thy native semblance on] If thou walk in thy true form.
II.i.114 (31,7) No, not an oath. If not the face of men] Dr. Warburten would read fate of men; but his elaborate emendation is, I think, erroneous. The face of men is the countenance, the regard, the esteem of the publick; in other terms, honour andreputation; or the face of men may mean the dejected look of the people.
He reads, with the other modern editions,
—If that the face of men,
but the old reading is,
—if not the face, &c.
II.i.129 (32,1) Swear priests, and cowards, and men cautelous] This is imitated by Utway,
When you would bind me, is there need of oaths? &c.
II.i.187 (34,2) take thought] That is, turn melancholy.
II.i.196 (34,3) Quite from the main opinion he held once] Main opinion, is nothing more than leading, fixed, predominant opinion.
II.i.225 (36,6) Let not our looks put on our purposes] Let not our faces put on, that is, wear or show our designs.
II.ii.36 (42,3) death, a necessary end,/Will come, when it will come] This is a sentence derived from the Stoical doctrine of predestination, and is therefore improper in the mouth of Caesar.
II.ii.41 (42,4) The Gods do this in shame of cowardice:/Caesar should be a beast without a heart] The ancients did not place courage but wisdom in the heart.
II.ii.88 (44,7) and that great men shall press/For tinctures, stains, relicks, and cognisance] [Warburton conjectured some lines lost] I am not of opinion that any thing is lost, and have therefore marked no omission. This speech, which is intentionally pompous, is somewhat confused. There are two allusions; one to coats armorial, to which princes make additions, or give new tinctures, and new marks of cognisance; the other to martyrs, whose reliques are preserved with veneration. The Romans, says Brutus, all come to you as to a saint, for reliques, as to a prince, for honours.
II.ii.104 (45,8) And reason to my love is liable] And reason, or propriety of conduct and language, is subordinate to my love.
II.iii.16 (47,9) the fates with traitors do contrive] The fates join with traitors in contriving thy destruction.
III.i.38 (51,2) And turn pre-ordinance and first decree/Into the lane of children] I do not veil understand what is meant by the lane of children. I should read, the law of children. It was, change pre-ordinance and decree into the law of children; into such slight determinations as every start of will would alter. Lane and laws in some manuscripts are not easily distinguished.
III.i.67 (52,4) apprehensive] Susceptible of fear, or other passions.
III.i.68 (52,5) but one] One, and only one.
III.i.69 (52,6) holds on his rank] Perhaps, holds on his race; continues his course. We commonly say, To hold a rank, and To hold on a course or way.
III.i.75 (52,7) Doth not Brutus bootless kneel?] I would read, Do not Brutus bootless kneel!
III.i.152 (55,9) Who else must be let blood, who else is rank] Who else may be supposed to have overtopped his equals, and grown too high for the public safety.
III.i.257 (59,3) in the tide of times] That is, in the course of times.
III.i.262 (60,4) A curse shall light upon the limbs of men] Hanmer reads,
—kind of men.
I rather think it should be,
—the lives of men.
unless we read,
—these lymms of men;
That is, these bloodhounds of men. The uncommonness of the word lymm easily made the change.
III.i.273 (60,5) Cry Havock] A learned correspondent has informed me, that, in the military operations of old times, havock was the word by which declaration was made, that no quarter should be given.
In a tract intitled, The Office of the Conestable & Mareschall in the Tyme of Werre, contained in the Black Book of the Admiralty, there is the following chapter:
“The peyne of hym that crieth havock and of them that followeth hym. etit. v.”
“Item Si quis inventus fuerit qui clamorem inceperit qui vecatur Havok.”
“Also that no man be so hardy to crye Havok upon peyne that he that is begynner shal be deede therefore: & the remanent that doo the same or folow shall lose their horse & harneis: and the persones of such as foloweth & escrien shal be under arrest of the Conestable & Mareschall warde unto tyme that they have made fyn; & founde suretie no morr to offende; & his body in prison at the Kyng wylle.—”
III.ii.116 (66,8) Caesar has had great wrong] [Pope has a rather ridiculous note on this] I have inserted this note, because it is Pope’s, for it is otherwise of no value. It is strange that he should so much forget the date of the copy before him, as to think it not printed in Jonson’s time. (see 1765, VII, 81, 1)
III.ii.126 (68,9) And none so poor] The meanest man is now too high to do reverence to Caesar.
And, in his mantle muffling up his face,
Even at the base of Pompey’s statue,
Which all the while ran blood, great Caesar fell.
O, what a fall was there, my countrymen!]
[Warburton suggested transposing the second and third of these lines] The image seems to be, that the blood of Caesar flew upon the statue, and trickled down it. And the exclamation,
O what a fall was there—
follows better after
-great Caesar fell,
than with a line interposed, (see 1765, VII, 64, 3)
III.ii.226 (70,4) For I have neither writ] The old copy reads instead of wit,
For I have neither writ, nor words,—
which may mean, I have no penned and premeditated oration.
Your master, Pindarus,
In his own change, or by ill officers,
Hath given me some worthy cause to wish
Things done, undone]
[W: own charge] The arguments for the change proposed are insufficient. Brutus could not but know whether the wrongs committed were done by those who were immediately under the command of Cassius, or those under his officers. The answer of Brutus to the servant is only an act of artful civility; his question to Lucilius proves, that his suspicion still continued. Yet I cannot but suspect a corruption, and would read,
In his own change, or by ill offices.
That is, either changing his inclination of himself, or by the ill offices and bad influences of others. (see 1765, VII, 71, 8)
IV.iii.30 (80,4) To hedge me in] That is, to limit my authority by your direction or censure.
IV.iii.32 (80,5) To make conditions] That is, to know on what terms it is fit to confer the offices which are at my disposal.
A friend should bear a friend’s infirmities,
But Brutus makes mine greater than they are.
Bru. I do not, till you practise them on me]
The meaning is this; I do not look for your faults, I only see them, and mention them with vehemence, when you force them into my notice, by practising them on me. (see 1765, VII, 77, 6)
There is my dagger,
And here my naked breast; within, a heart
Dearer than Plutus’ mine, richer than gold:
If that thou be’st a Roman, take it forth]
[W: thou needst a Roman’s,] I am not satisfied with the change proposed, yet cannot deny, that the words, as they now stand, require some interpretation. I think he means only, that he is so far from Avarice, when the cause of his country requires liberality, that if any man should wish for his heart, he would not need enforce his desire any otherwise, than by showing that he was a Roman.
V.i.5 (92,5) They mean to warn as at Philippi here] To warn, seems to mean here the same as to alarm. Hanmer reads,
They mean to wage us.
V.i.43 (93,6) While damned Casca, like a cur behind,/Struck Caesar on the neck] Casca struck Caesar on the neck, coming like a degenerate cur behind him.
Even by the rule of that philosophy,
By which I did blame Cato for the death
Which he did give himself; (I know not how,
But I do find it cowardly and vile,
For fear of what might fall, so to prevent
The time of life:) arming myself with patience]
Dr. Warburton thinks, that in this speech something is lost, but there needed only a parenthesis to clear it. The construction is this; I an determined to act according to that philosophy which directed me to blame the suicide of Cato, arming myself with patience.
V.iv.12 (102,6) Luc. Only I yield to die:/There is so much, that then wilt kill me straight] Dr. Warburton has been much inclined to find lacunae, or passages broken by omission, throughout this play. I think he has been always mistaken. The soldier here says, Yield, or thou diest. Lucilius replies, I yield only on this condition, that I may die; here is so much gold as thou seest in my hand, which I offer thee as a reward for speedy death. What now is there wanting?
(106) General Observation. Of this tragedy many particular passages deserve regard, and the contention and reconcilement of Brutus and Cassius is universally celebrated; but I have never been strongly agitated in perusing it, and think it somewhat cold and unaffecting, compared with some other of Shakespeare’s plays; his adherence to the real story, and to Roman manners, seems to have impeded the natural vigour of his genius.
ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA
I.i.9 (110,2) And is become the bellows, and the fan,/To cool a gypsy’s lust] In this passage something seems to be wanting. The bellows and fan being commonly used for contrary purposes, were probably opposed by the author, who might perhaps have written,
—is become the bellows, and the fan,
To kindle and to cool a gypsy’s lust.
I.i.10 (110,3) gypsy’s lust] Gypsy is here used both in the original meaning for an Egyptian, and in its accidental sense for a bad woman.
1.i.17 (110,6) Then must thou needs find out new heaven] Thou must set the boundary of my love at a greater distance than the present visible universe affords.
1.i.18 (110,7) The sum] Be brief, sum thy business in a few words.
I.i.33 (111,8) and the wide arch/Of the rang’d empire fall!] [Taken from the Roman custom of raising triumphal arches to perpetuate their victories. Extremely noble. WARBURTON.] I am in doubt whether Shakespeare had any idea but of a fabrick standing on pillars. The later editions have all printed the raised empire, for the ranged empire, as it was first given, (see 1765, VII, 107, 8)
Will be himself.
Ant. But stirr’d by Cleopatra]
But, in this passage, seems to have the old Saxon signification of without, unless, except. Antony, says the queen, will recollect his thoughts. Unless kept, he replies, in commotion by Cleopatra. (see 1765, VII, 108,1)
I.ii.5 (113,2) change his horns with garlands] [W: charge] Sir Thomas Hanmer reads, not improbably, change for horns his garlands. I am in doubt, whether to change is not merely to dress, or to dress with changes of garlands.
I.ii.23 (114,3) I had rather heat my liver] To know why the lady is so averse from heating her liver, it must be remembered, that a
heated liver is supposed to make a pimpled face.
I.ii.35 (114,5) Then, belike, my children shall have no names] If I have already had the best of my fortune, then I suppose I shall never name children, that is, I am never to be married. However, tell me the truth, tell me, how many boys and wenches?
1.ii.38 (114,6) If every of your wishes had a womb, and foretel every wish, a million] [W: fertil ev’ry] For foretel, in ancient editions, the latter copies have foretold. Foretel favours the emendation, which is made with great acuteness; yet the original reading may, I think, stand. If you had as many wombs as you will have wishes; and I should foretel all those wishes, I should foretel a million of children. It is an ellipsis very frequent in conversation; I should shame you, and tell all; that is, and if I should tell all. And is for and if, which was anciently, and is still provincially, used for if.
I.ii.105 (117,8) extended Asia] To extend, is a term used for to seize; I know not whether that be not the sense here.
I.ii.113 (118,9) Oh, when we bring forth weeds,/When our quick winds lie still] The sense is, that man, not agitated by censure, like soil not ventilated by quick winds, produces more evil than good.
the present pleasure,
By revolution lowring, does become
The opposite of itself]
[The allusion is to the sun’s diurnal course; which rising in the east, and by revolution lowering, or setting in the west, becomes the opposite of itself. WARB.] This is an obscure passage. The explanation which Dr. Warburton has offered is such, that I can add nothing to it; yet perhaps Shakespeare, who was less learned than his commentator, meant only, that our pleasures, as they are revolved in the mind, turn to pain.
I.ii.146 (119,3) upon far poorer moment] For less reason; upon meaner motives.
I.ii.169 (120,4) It shews to man the tailors of the earth; comforting therein] I have printed this after the original, which, though harsh and obscure, I know not how to amend. Sir Tho. Hanmer reads, They shew to man the tailors of the earth comfortinghim therein. I think the passage, with somewhat less alteration, for alteration is always dangerous, may stand thus; It shews to men the tailors of the earth, comforting them, &c.
I.ii.187 (121,6) more urgent touches] Things that touch me more sensibly, more pressing motives.
I.ii.190 (121,7) Petition us at home] Wish us at home; call for us to reside at home.
Say, our pleasure
To such whose places under us, requires
Our quick remove from hence]
This is hardly sense. I believe we should read,
Their quick remove from hence.
Tell our design of going away to those, who being by their places obliged to attend us, must remove in haste.
I.iii.3 (122,1) I did not send you] You must go as if you came without my order or knowledge.
I.iii.37 (123,2) a race of heaven] [i.e. had a smack or flavour of heaven. WARB.] This word is well explained by Dr. Warburton; the race of wine is the taste of the woil. Sir T. Hanmer, not understanding the word, reads, ray.
I.iii.44 (124,3) Remains in use] The poet seems to allude to the legal distinction between the use and absolute possession.
I.iii.54 (124,4) should safe my going] [T: salve] Mr. Upton reads, I think rightly,
—safe my going.
O most false love!
Where be the sacred vials thou shouldst fill
With sorrowful water?]
Alluding to the lachrymatory vials, or bottles of tears, which the Romans sometimes put into the urn of a friend.
I.iii.77 (125,6) the tears/Belong to Egypt] To me, the queen of Egypt.
I.iii.90 (126,7) Oh, ny oblivion is a very Antony,/And I am all forgotten] [The plain meaning is, My forgetfulness makes me forget myself. WARBURTON.] [Hanmer explained “all forgotten” as “apt to forget everything”] I cannot understand the learned critic’s explanation. It appears to me, that she should rather have said,
O my remembrance is a very Antony,
And I am all forgotten.
It was her memory, not her oblivion, that, like Antony, vas forgetting and deserting her. I think a slight change will restore the passage. The queen, having something to say, which she is not able, or would not seem able to recollect, cries out,
O my oblivion!—’Tis a very Antony.
The thought of which I was in quest is a very Antony, is treacherous and fugitive, and has irrevocably left me,
And I am all forgotten.
If this reading stand, I think the explanation of Hanmer must be received, (see 1765, VII, 122, 6)
I.iv.3 (127,9) One great competitor] Perhaps, Our great competitor.
I.iv.12 (128,1) as the spots of heaven,/More fiery by night’s blackness] If by spots are meant stars, as night has no other fiery spots, the comparison is forced and harsh, stars having been always supposed to beautify the night; nor do I comprehend what there is in the counter-part of this simile, which answers to night’s blackness. Hanmer reads,
—spots on ermine
Or fires, by night’s blackness.
I.iv.14 (128,2) purchas’d] Procured by his own fault or endeavour.
I.iv.21 (128,3) say, this becomes him, (As his composure must be rare, indeed, Whom these things cannot blemish] This seems inconsequent. I read
And his composure, &c.
Grant that this becomes him, and if it can become him, he must
have in him something very uncommon; yet, &c.
I.iv.25 (128,4) So great weight in his lightness] The word light it one of Shakespeare’s favourite play-things. The sense is, His trifling levity throws so much burden upon us.
If he fill’d
His vacancy with his voluptuousness,
Full surfeits, and the dryness of his bones,
Call on him for’t]
Call on him, is, visit him. Says Caesar, If Antony followed his debaucheries at a time of leisure, I should leave him to be punished by their natural consequences, by surfeits and dry bones.
I.iv.31 (129,6) boys; who being mature in knowledge] For this Hanmer, who thought the maturity of a boy an inconsistent idea, has put,
—who, immature in knowledge,
but the words experience and judgment require that we read mature; though Dr. Warburton has received the emendation. By boys mature in knowledge, are meant, boys old enough to know their duty.
I.iv.38 (129,7) he is belov’d of these/That only have fear’d Caesar] Those whom not love but fear made adherents to Caesar, now shew their affection for Pompey.
I.iv.49 (130,2) which they ear] To ear, is to plow; a common metaphor.
I.iv.52 (130,3) Lack blood to think on’t] Turn pale at the thought of it.
I.v.4 (132,5) mandragora] A plant of which the infusion was supposed to procure sleep. Shakespeare mentions it in Othello:
Not poppy, nor mandragora,
Can ever med’cine thee to that sweet sleep.
I.v.38 (133,8) that great medicine hath/With his tinct gilded thee] Alluding to the philosopher’s stone, which, by its touch, converts base metal into gold. The alchemists call the matter, whatever it be, by which they perform transmutation, a medicine.
I.v.48 (134,9) arm-gaunt steed] [i.e. his steed worn lean and thin by much service in war. So Fairfax, His stall-worn steed the champion stout bestrode. WARB.] On this note Mr. Edwards has been very lavish of his pleasantry, and indeed has justly censured the misquotation of stall-worn, for stall-worth, which means strong, but makes no attempt to explain the word in the play. Mr. Seyward, in his preface to Beaumont, has very elaborately endeavoured to prove, that an arm-gaunt steed is a steed with lean shoulders. Arm is the Teutonick word for want, or poverty. Arm-gaunt may be therefore an old word, signifying, lean for want, ill fed. Edwards’s observation, that a worn-out horse is not proper for Atlas to mount in battle, is impertinent; the horse here mentioned seems to be a post horse, rather than a war horse. Yet as arm-gaunt seems not intended to imply any defect, it perhaps means, a horse so slender that a man might clasp him, and therefore formed for expedition. Hanmer reads,
I.v.50 (134,1) Was beastly dumb by him] Mr. Theobald reads dumb’d, put to silence. Alexas means, (says he) the horse made such a neighing, that if he had spoke he could not have been heard.
I.v.76 (136,3) Get me ink and paper: he shall have every day/ A several greeting, or I’ll unpeople Aegypt] By sending out messengers.
II.i (136,4) Enter Pompey, Menecrates, and Menas] The persons are so named in the first edition; but I know not why Menecrates appears; Menas can do all without him.
II.i.4 (136,5) While we are suitors to their throne, decays/The thing we sue for] [W: delays] It is not always prudent to be too hasty in exclamation; the reading which Dr. Warburton rejects as nonsense, is in my opinion right; if delay be what they sue for, they have it, and the consolation offered becomes superfluous. The meaning is, While we are praying, the thing for which we pray is losing its value.
II.i.38 (138,8) The ne’er-lust-wearied Antony] [Theobald emended “near lust-wearied” to “ne’er-lust-wearied”] Could it be imagined, after this swelling exultation, that the first edition stands literally thus,
The neere lust wearied Antony.
II.i.45 (139,9) square] That is, quarrel.
II.i.51 (139,1) Our lives upon] This play is not divided into acts by the authour or first editors, and therefore the present division may be altered at pleasure. I think the first act may be commodiously continued to this place, and the second act opened with the interview of the chief persons, and a change of the state of action. Yet it must be confessed, that it is of small importance, where these unconnected and desultory scenes are interrupted.
II.ii.7 (140,2) Were I the wearer of Antonius’ beard,/I would not shav’t to-day] I believe he means, I would meet him undressed, without shew of respect.
II.ii.25 (141,3) Nor curstness grow to the matter] Let not ill-humour be added to the real subject of our difference.
II.ii.28 (141,4) Caes. Sit./Ant. Sit, sir!] [Antony appears to be jealous of a circumstance which seemed to indicate a consciousness of superiority in his too successful partner in power; and accordingly resents the invitation of Caesar to be seated: Caesar answers, Nay then—i.e. if you are so ready to resent what I meant an act of civility, there can be no reason to suppose you have temper enough for the business on which at present we are met. STEEVENS.] The following circumstance may serve to strengthen Mr. Steevens’s opinion: When the fictitious Sebastian made his appearance in Europe, he came to a conference with the Conde de Lemos; to whom, after the firat exchange of civilities, he said, Conde de Lemos, be covered. And being asked by that nobleman, by what pretences he laid claim to the superiority expressed by such permission, he replied, I do it by right of my birth; I am Sebastian. (1773)
II.ii.43 (142,5) their contestation/Was theam for you, you were the word of war] [W: theam’d] I am neither satisfied with the reading nor the emendation; theam’d is, I think, a word unauthorised, and very harsh. Perhaps we may read,
Had theme from you, you were the word o’ th’ war. The dispute derived its subject from you. It may be corrected by mere transposition,
You were theme for, you were the word.
II.ii.51 (143,8) Having alike your cause?] The meaning seems to be, having the same cause as you to be offended with me. But why, because he was offended with Antony, should he make war upon Caesar? May it not be read thus,
—Did he not rather
Discredit my authority with yours,
And make the wars alike against my stomach,
Hating alike our cause?
II.ii.53 (143,9) As matter whole you have not to make it with] The original copy reads,
As matter whole you have to make it with.
Without doubt erroneously; I therefore only observe it, that the reader may more readily admit the liberties which the editors of this authour’s works have necessarily taken.
II.ii.61 (144,1) fronted] i.e. opposed.
II.ii.85 (145,4) The honour’s sacred which he talks on now,/Supposing that I lack’d it] [Sacred, for unbroken, unviolated. WARB.] Dr. Warburton seems to understand this passage thus; The honour which he talks of me as lacking, is unviolated, I never lacked it. This may perhaps be the true meaning, but before I read the note, I understood it thus: Lepidus interrupts Caesar, on the supposition that what he is about to say will be too harsh to be endured by Antony; to which Antony replies, No, Lepidus, let him speak, the security of honour on which he now speaks, on which this conference is held now, is sacred, even supposing that I lacked honour before.
II.ii.112 (146,5) your considerate stone] This line is passed by all the editors, as if they understood it, and believed it universally, intelligible. I cannot find in it any very obvious, and hardly any possible meaning. I would therefore read,
Go to then, you considerate ones.
You, who dislike my frankness and temerity of speech, and are so considerate and discreet, go to, do your on business.
II.ii.113 (146,6) I do not much dislike the matter, but/The manner of his speech] I do not, says Caesar, think the man wrong, but too free of him interposition; for’t cannot be, we shall remain in friendship: yet if it were possible, I would endeavour it.
II.ii.123 (147,7) your reproof/Were well deserv’d] In the old edition,
Were well deserv’d—
Which Mr. Theobald, with his usual triumph, changes to approof, which he explains, allowance. Dr. Warburton inserted reproof very properly into Hanmer’s edition, but forgot it in his own.
II.ii.159 (148,8) Lest my remembrance suffer ill report] Lest I be thought too willing to forget benefits, I must barely return him thanks, and then I will defy him.
II.ii.210 (150,1) And what they undid, did] It might be read less harshly,
And what they did, undid.
II.ii.212 (150,2) tended her i’ the eyes] Perhaps tended her by th’ eyes, discovered her will by her eyes.
II.iii.21 (153,6) thy angel/Becomes a Fear] Mr.Uptan reads,
The common reading is more poetical.
II.iii.37 (154,7) his quails ever/Beat mine] The ancients used to match quails as we match cocks.
II.iii.38 (154,8) inhoop’d, at odds] Thus the old copy. Inhoop’d is inclosed, confined, that they may fight. The modern editions read,
Beat mine, in whoop’d-at odds.—
II.v.1 (155,9) musick, moody food] [The mood is the mind, or mental disposition. Van Haaren’s panegyrick on the English begins, Groot-moedig Volk, great-minded nation.] Perhaps here is a poor jest intended between mood the mind and moodsof musick.
II.v.41 (l57,4) Not like a formal man] [Formal, for ordinary. WARB.] Rather decent, regular.
II.v.103 (161,8) Thou art not what thou’rt sure of!] For this, which is not easily understood, Sir Thomas Hanmer has given,
That say’st but what thou’rt sure of!
I am not satisfied with the change, which, though it affords sense, exhibits little spirit. I fancy the line consists only of abrupt starts.
Oh that his fault should make a knave of thee,
That art—not what?—Thou’rt sure on’t.—Get thee
That his fault should make a knave of thee that art—but what shall I say thou art not? Thou art then sure of this marriage.—Get thee hence.
Dr. Warburton has received Sir T. Hanmer’s emendation.
II.v.115 (161,9) Let him for ever go] She is now talking in broken sentences, not of the messenger, but Antony.
II.vi.24 (163,2) Thou canst not fear us] Thou canst not affright us with thy numerous navy.
II.vi.28 (163,3) But since the cuckow builds not for himself] Since, like the cuckow, that seizes the nests of other birds, you have invaded a house which you could not build, keep it while you can.
II.vii.1 (167,6) some o’ their plants] Plants, besides its common meaning, is here used for the foot, from the Latin.
II.vii.14 (167,9) a partizan] A pike.
II.vii.16 (167,1) To be call’d into a huge sphere, and not to be seen to move in’t, are the holes where eyes should be, which pitifully disaster the cheeks] This speech seems to be mutilated; to supply the deficiencies is impossible, but perhaps the sense was originally approaching to this.
To be called into a huge sphere, and not to be seen to move in it, is a very ignominious state; great offices are the holes where eyes should be, which, if eyes be wanting, pitifully disaster the cheeks.
II.vii.88 (170,2) thy pall’d fortunes] Palled, is vapid, past its time of excellence; palled wine, is wine that has lost its original spriteliness.
II.vii.102 (171,3) Strike the vessels] Try whether the casks sound as empty.
II.vii.116 (171,4) The holding every man shall bear] Every man shall accompany the chorus by drumming on his sides, in token of concurrence and applause. [Theobald had emended “beat” to “bear”] (1773)
III.i.1 (173,6) Now, darting Parthia, art thou struck] Struck alludes to darting. Thou whose darts have so often struck others, art struck now thyself. (1773)
III.ii.12 (175,8) Arabian bird!] The phoenix.
Ho! hearts, tongues, figure, scribes, bards, poets, cannot
Think, speak, cast, write, sing, number, ho!]
Not only the tautology of bards and poets, but the want of a correspondent action for the poet, whose business in the next line is only to number, makes me suspect some fault in this passage, which I know not how to mend.
III.ii.26 (176,1) as my furthest bond] As I will venture the greatest pledge of security, on the trial of thy conduct.
III.ii.40 (177,1) The elements be kind to thee, and make/Thy spirits all of comfort!] This is obscure. It seems to mean, May the different elements of the body, or principles of life, maintain such proportion and harmony as may keep you cheerful.
III.iv.26 (182,7) I’ll raise the preparation of a war/Shall stain your brother] [T: strain] I do not see but stain may be allowed to remain unaltered, meaning no more than shame or disgrace.
III.iv.30 (182,8) Wars ‘twixt you ‘twain would be/As if the world should cleave] The sense is, that war between Caesar and Antony would engage the world between them, and that the slaughter would be great in so extensive a commotion.
III.v.8 (183,9) rivality] Equal rank.
III.v.11 (183,1) Upon his own appeal] To appeal, in Shakespeare, is to accuse; Caesar seized Lepidus without any other proof than Caesar’s accusation.
III.v.21 (184,3) More, Domitius] I have something more to tell you, which I might have told at first, and delayed my news. Antony requires your presence.
III.vi.9 (184,4) made her/Of Lower Syria, Cyprus, Lydia./Absolute queen] For Lydia, Mr. Upton, from Plutarch, has restored Lybia.
III.vi.68-75 (187,6) Mr. Upton remarks, that there are some errours in this enumeration of the auxiliary kings; but it is probable that the authour did not much wish to be accurate.
III.vi.95 (188,7) And gives his potent regiment to a trull] Regiment, is government, authority; he puts his power and his empire into the hands of a false woman.
It may be observed, that trull was not, in our author’s time, a term of mere infamy, but a word of slight contempt, as wench is now.
III.vii.3 (188,8) forespoke my being] To forespeak, is to contradict, to speak against, as forbid is to order negatively.
By Hercules, I think, I am i’ the right.
Can. Soldier, thou art: but his whole action grows
Not in the power on’t]
That is, his whole conduct becomes, ungoverned by the right, or by reason.
III.vii.77 (191,2) distractions] Detachments; separate bodies.
III.x.6 (193,4) The greater cantle] [A piece or lump. POPE.] Cantle is rather a corner. Caesar in this play mentions the three-nook’d world. Of this triangular world every triumvir had a corner. (see 1765, VII, 185, 6)
III.x.9 (193,5) token’d pestilence] Spotted.
III.x.10 (193,6) Yon’ ribauld nag of Aegypt] The word is in the old edition ribaudred, which I do not understand, but mention it, in hopes others may raise some happy conjecture. [Tyrwhitt: hag] The brieze, or oestrum, the fly that stings cattle, proves that nag is the right word. (1773)
III.x.11 (193,7) Whom leprosy o’ertake!] Leprosy, an epidemical distemper of the Aegyptians; to which Horace probably alludes in the controverted line.
Contaminato cum grege turpium
III.x.36 (195,1) The wounded chance of Antony] I know not whether the author, who loves to draw his images from the sports of the field, might not have written,
The wounded chase of Antony,—
The allusion is to a deer wounded and chased, whom all other deer avoid. I will, says Enobarbus, follow Antony, though chased and wounded.
The common reading, however, may very well stand.
III.xi.3 (195,2) so lated in the world] Alluding to a benighted traveller.
III.xi.23 (196,3) I have lost command] I am not master of my own emotions.
III.xi.35 (196,4) He at Philippi kept/His sword e’en like a dancer] In the Moriaco, and perhaps anciently in the Pyrrhick dance, the dancers held swords in their hands with the points upward.
III.xi.39 (196,6) he alone/Dealt on lieutenantry] I know not whether the meaning is, that Caesar acted only as lieutenant at Philippi, or that he made his attempts only on lieutenants, and left the generals to Antony.
III.xi.47 (197,7) death will seize her; but/Your comfort] But has here, as once before in this play, the force of except, or unless.
III.ii.52 (197,8) How I convey my shame] How, by looking another way, I withdraw my ignominy from your sight.
III.ii.57 (197,9) ty’d by the strings] That is by the heart string.
III.xii.18 (199,1) The circle of the Ptolemies] The diadem; the ensign of royalty.
III.xii.34 (199,2) how Antony becomes his flaw] That is, how Antony conforms himself to this breach of his fortune.
III.xiii.1 (200,3) Think, and die] [Hanmer: Drink] This reading, offered by sir T. Hanmer, is received by Dr. Warburton and Mr. Upton, but I have not advanced it into the page, not being convinced that it is necessary. Think, and die; that is, Reflect on your folly, and leave the world, is a natural answer.
III.xiii.9 (201,4) he being/The meered question] The meered question is a term I do not understand. I know not what to offer, except,
The mooted question.—
That is, the disputed point, the subject of debate. Mere is indeed a boundary, and the meered question, if it can mean any thing, may, with some violence of language, mean, the disputed boundary.
III.xiii.25 (202, 5)
I dare him therefore
To lay his gay comparisons apart
And answer me declin’d]
I require of Caesar not to depend on that superiority which the comparison of our different fortunes may exhibit to him, but to answer me man to man, in this decline of my age or power.
III.xiii.42 (202,6) The loyalty, well held to fools, does make/Our faith meer folly] [T: Though loyalty, well held] I have preserved the old reading: Enobarbus is deliberating upon desertion, and finding it is more prudent to forsake a fool, and more reputable to be faithful to him, makes no positive conclusion. Sir T. Hanmer follows Theobald; Dr. Warburton retains the old reading.
III.xiii.77 (204,9) Tell him, from his all-obeying breath I hear/The doom of Aegypt] Doom is declared rather by an all-commanding, than an all-obeying breath. I suppose we ought to read,
III.xiii.81 (205,1) Give me grace] Grant me the favour.
III.xiii.109 (206,3) By one that looks on feeders?] One that waits at the table while others are eating.
III.xiii.128 (207,4) The horned herd] It is not without pity and indignation that the reader of this great poet meets so often with this low jest, which is too much a favourite to be left out of either mirth or fury.
III.xiii.151 (208,5) to quit me] To repay me this insult; to requite me.
III.xiii.180 (209,9) Were nice and lucky] [Nice, for delicate, courtly, flowing in peace. WARBURTON.] Nice rather seems to be, just fit for my purpose, agreeable to my wish. So we vulgarly say of any thing that is done better than was expected, it is nice.
IV.i.5 (210,1) I have many other ways to die] [Upton: He hath…/I laugh] I think this emendation deserves to be received. It had, before Mr. Upton’s book appeared, been made by sir T. Hanmer.
IV.i.9 (211,2) Make boot of] Take advantage of.
IV.ii.8 (212,3) take all] Let the survivor take all. No composition, victory or death.
IV.ii.14 (212,4) one of those odd tricks] I know not what obscurity the editors find in this passage. Trick is here used in the sense in which it is uttered every day by every mouth, elegant and vulgar: yet sir T. Hanmer changes it to freaks, and Dr. Warburton, in his rage of Gallicism, to traits.
IV.ii.26 (213,5) Haply, you shall not see me more; or if,/A mangled shadow] Or if you see me more, you will see me a mangled shadow, only the external form of what I was.
IV.ii.35 (213,6) onion-ey’d] I have my eyes as full of tears as if they had been fretted by onions.
IV.iv.3 (215,8) Come, good fellow, put thine iron on] I think it should be rather,
IV.iv.5 (215,9) Nay, I’ll help too] These three little speeches, which in the other editions are only one, and given to Cleopatra, were happily disentangled by sir T. Hanmer.
IV.iv.10 (215,1) Briefly, sir] That is, quickly, sir.
IV.v.17 (218,3) Dispatch. Enobarbus!] Thus [Dispatch, my Eros] the modern editors. The old edition reads,
Perhaps, it should be,
—Dispatch! To Enobarbus! (see 1765, VII, 208, 3)
IV.vi.12 (219,6) persuade] The old copy has dissuade, perhaps rightly.
IV.vi.34 (219,7) This blows my heart] All the latter editions have,
—This bows my heart;
I have given the original word again the place from which I think it unjustly excluded. This generosity, (says Enobarbus) swells my heart, so that it will quickly break, if thought break it not, a swifter mean.
IV.vii.2 (220,8) and our oppression] Sir T. Hanmer has received opposition. Perhaps rightly.
IV.viii.1 (221,9) run one before,/And let the queen know of our guests] [W: gests] This passage needs neither correction nor explanation. Antony after his success intends to bring his officers to sup with Cleopatra, and orders notice to be given her of theirguests.
IV.viii.12 (222,1) To this great fairy] Mr. Upton has well observed, that fairy; which Dr. Warburton and sir T. Hanmer explain by Inchantress, comprises the idea of power and beauty.
IV.viii.22 (222,2) get goal for goal of youth] At all plays of barriers, the boundary is called a goal; to win a goal, is to be superiour in a contest of activity.
IV.viii.31 (223,4) Bear our hack’d targets like the men that owe them] i.e. hack’d as much as the men are to whom they belong. WARB.] Why not rather, Bear our hack’d targets with spirit and exaltation, such as becomes the brave warriors that own them?
Throw my heart
Against the flint and hardness of my fault;
Which, being dried with grief, will break to powder,
And finish all foul thoughts]
The pathetick of Shakespeare too often ends in the ridiculous. It is painful to find the gloomy dignity of this noble scene destroyed by the intrusion of a conceit so far-fetched and unaffecting.
IV.xii.13 (226,1) Triple turn’d whore!] She was first for Antony, then was supposed by him to have turned to Caesar, when he found his messenger kissing her hand, then she turned again to Antony, and now has turned to Caesar. Shall I mention what has dropped into my imagination, that our author might perhaps have written triple-tongued? Double-tongued is a common term of reproach, which rage might improve to triple-tongued. But the present reading may stand.
IV.xii.21 (227,2) That pannell’d me at heels] All the editions read,
That pannell’d me at heels,—
Sir T. Hanmer substituted spaniel’d by an emendation, with which it was reasonable to expect that even rival commentators would be satisfied; yet Dr. Warburton proposes pantler’d, in a note, of which he is not injur’d by the suppression; and Mr. Upton having in his first edition proposed plausibly enough,
That paged me at heels,—
in the second edition retracts his alteration, and maintains pannell’d to be the right reading, being a metaphor taken, he says, from a pannel of wainscot.
IV.xii.25 (227,3) this grave charm] I know not by what authority, nor for what reason, this grave charm, which the first, the only original copy exhibits, has been through all the modern editors changed to this gay charm. By this grave charm, is meant,this sublime, this majestic beauty.
IV.xii.29 (227,4) to the very heart of loss] To the utmost loss possible.
IV.xii.45 (228,7) Let me lodge, Lichas] Sir T. Hanmer reads thus,
Led thee lodge Lichas—and—
Subdue thy worthiest self.—
This reading, harsh as it is, Dr. Warburton has received, after having rejected many better. The meaning is, Let me do something in my rage, becoming the successor of Hercules,
IV.xiv.19 (230,2) Pack’d cards with Caesar, and false play’d my glory/Unto an enemy’s triumph] [Warburton had explained and praised Shakespeare’s “metaphor”] This explanation is very just, the thought did not deserve so good an annotation.
IV.xiv.39 (231,3) The battery from my heart] I would read,
This battery from my heart.—
IV.xiv.49 (232,4) Seal then, and all is done] I believe the reading is,
—seel then, and all is done—
To seel hawks, is to close their eyes. The meaning will be,
—since the torch is out,
Lie down, and stray no further. How all labour
Marrs what it does.—Seel then, and all is done.
Close thine eyes for ever, and be quiet.
IV.xiv.73 (233,5) pleach’d arms] Arms folded in each other.
IV.xiv.77 (233,6) His baseness that ensued?] The poor conquered wretch that followed.
IV.xiv.86 (233,7) the worship of the whole world] The worship, is the dignity, the authority.
Burn the great sphere thou mov’st in!—darkling stand
The varying shore o’ the world]
She desires the sun, to burn his own orb, the vehicle of light, and then the earth will be dark.
IV.xv.19-23 (237,1) I here importune death] [Theobald had regularized the versification and had added two words] Mr. Theobald’s emendation is received by the succeeding editors; but it seems not necessary that a dialogue so distressful should be nicely regular. I have therefore preserved the original reading in the text, and the emendation below.
IV.xv.28 (238,2) still conclusion] Sedate determination; silent coolness of resolution.
IV.xv.32 (236,3) Here’s sport, indeed!] I suppose the meaning of these strange words is, here’s trifling, you do not work in earnest.
IV.xv.39 (239,4) Quicken with kissing] That is, Revive by my kiss.
IV.xv.44 (239,6) That the false huswife Fortune break her wheel] This despicable line has occurred before.
IV.xv.65 (240,8) The soldier’s pole] He at whom the soldiers pointed, as at a pageant held high for observation.
Char. Peace, peace, Iras.
Cleo. No more—but e’en a woman]
[W: peace, Isis] Of this note it may be truly said, that it at least deserves to be right, nor can he, that shall question the justness of the emendation, refuse his esteem to the ingenuity and learning with which it is proposed.
Hanmer had proposed another emendation, not injudiciously. He reads thus,
Iras. Royal Aegypt! empress!
Cleo. Peace, peace, Iras.
No more but a mere woman, &c.
That is, no more an empress, but a mere woman.
It is somewhat unfortunate that the words, mere woman, which so much strengthen the opposition to either empress or Isis, are not in the original edition, which stands thus,
No more but in a woman.
Mere woman was probably the arbitrary reading of Rowe. I suppose, however, that we muy justly change the ancient copy thus,
No more, but e’en a woman.
which will enough accommodate either of the editors.
I am inclined to think that she speaks abruptly, not answering her woman, but discoursing with her own thoughts,
No more—but e’en a woman.
I have no more of my wonted greatness, but am even a woman, on the level with other women; were I what I once was.
—It were for me
To throw my scepter, &c.
If this simple explanation be admitted, how much labour has been thrown away. Peace, peace, Iras, is said by Charmian, when she sees the queen recovering, and thinks speech troublesome.
V.i.15 (244,4) The round world/Should have shook lions into civil streets] I think here is a line lost, after which it is in vain to go in quest. The sense seems to have been this: The round world should have shook, and this great alteration of the system of things should send lions into streets, and citizens into dens. There is sense still, but it is harsh and violent.
V.i.27 (244,5) but it is tidings/To wash the eyes of kings!] That is, May the Gods rebuke me, if this be not tidings to make kings weep.
But, again, for if not.
V.i.46 (245,7) that our stars,/Unreconciliable, should divide/Our equalness to this] That is, should have made us, in our equality of fortune, disagree to a pitch like this, that one of us must die.
V.i.52 (246,8) A poor Aegyptian yet; the queen my mistress] If this punctuation be right, the man means to say, that he is yet an Aegyptian, that is, yet a servant of the queen of Aegypt, though soon to become, a subject of Rome.
V.i.65 (246,9) her life in Rome/Would be eternal in our triumph] Hanmer reads judiciously enough, but without necessity,
Would be eternalling our triumph.
The sense is, If she dies here, she will be forgotten, but if I send her in triumph at Rome, her memory and my glory will be eternal.
V.ii.3 (247,1) fortune’s knave] The servant of fortune.
it is great
To do that thing, that ends all other deeds;
Which shackles accidents, and bolts up change;
Which sleeps, and never palates more the dung,
The beggar’s nurse, and Caesar’s]
[Warburton added a whole line and emended “dung” to “dugg”] I cannot perceive the loss of a line, or the need of an emendation. The commentator seems to have entangled his own ideas; his supposition that suicide is called the beggar’s nurse and Caesar’s, and his concession that the position is intelligible, show, I think, a mind not intent upon the business before it. The difficulty of the passage, if any difficulty there be, arises only from this, that the act of suicide, and the state which is the effect of suicide are confounded. Voluntary death, says she, is an act which bolts up change; it produces a state,
Which sleeps, and never palates more the dung,
The beggar’s nurse, and Caesar’s.
Which has no longer need of the gross and terrene sustenance, in the use of which Caesar and the beggar are on a level.
The speech is abrupt, but perturbation in such a state is surely natural.
V.ii.29 (249,4) I am his fortune’s vassal, and I send him/The greatness he has got] I allow him to be my conqueror; I own his superiority with complete submission.
V.ii.34 (249,5) You see how easily she may be surpriz’d] This line in the first edition is given not to Charuian, but to Proculeius; and to him it certainly belongs, though perhaps misplaced. I would put it at the end of his foregoing speech,
Where he for grace is kneel’d to.
[Aside to Gallus.] You see, how easily she may be surpriz’d.
Then while Cleopatra makes a formal answer, Gallus, upon the hint given, seizes her, and Proculeius, interrupting the civility of his answer,
—your plight is pity’d
Of him that caus’d it.
Guard her till, Caesar come.
V.ii.40 (250,6) who are in this/Reliev’d, but not betray’d] [W: Bereav’d, but] I do not think the emendation necessary, since the sense is not made better by it, and the abruptness in Cleopatra’s answer is more forcible in the old reading.
V.ii.42 (250,7) rids our dogs of languish] For languish, I think we may read, anguish.
V.ii.48 (251,8) Worth many babes and beggars] Why, death, wilt thou not rather seize a queen, than employ thy force upon babes and beggars. (see 1765, VII, 238, 9)
V.ii.50 (251,9) If idle talk will once be necessary] [This nonsense should be reformed thus,
If idle TIME whill once be necessary.
i.e. if repose be necessary to cherish life, I will not sleep. WARBURTON.] I do not see that the nonsense is made sense by the change. Sir T. Hanmer reads,
If idle talk will once be accessary;
Neither is this better. I know not what to offer better than an easy explanation. That is, I will not eat, and if it will be necessary now for once to waste a moment in idle talk of my purpose, I will not sleep neither. In common conversation we often use will be, with as little relation to futurity. As, Now I am going, it will be fit for me to dine first.
yet to imagine
An Antony, were Nature’s piece ‘gainst Fancy,
Condemning shadows quite]
[W: Nature’s prize] In this passage I cannot discover any temptation to critical experiments. The word piece, is a term appropriated to works of art. Here Nature and Fancy produce each their piece, and the piece done by Nature had the preference. Antony was in reality past the size of dreaming; he was more by Nature than Fancy could present in sleep.
V.ii.121 (255,3) I cannot project mine own cause so well] [W: procter] Sir T. Hanmer reads,
I cannot parget my own cause—-
meaning, I cannot whitewash, varnish, or gloss my cause. I believe the present reading to be right. To project a cause is to represent a cause; to project it well, is to plan or contrive a scheme of defense.
V.ii.139 (256,4) “tis exactly valued, /Not petty things admitted] [T: omitted] Notwithstanding the wrath of Mr. Theobald, I have restored the old reading. She is angry afterwards, that she is accused of having reserved more than petty things. Dr. Warburton and sir T. Hanmer follow Theobald.
V.ii.146 (257,5) seel my lips] Sew up my mouth.
V.ii.163 (258,7) Parcel the sum of my disgraces by] To parcel her disgraces, might be expressed in vulgar language, to bundle up her calamaties. (see 1765, VII, 244, 8)
Cleo. Be’t known, that we, the greatest, are misthought
for things that others do; and, when we fall,
We answer others merits in our names;
Are therefore to be pitied]
I do not think that either of the criticks [Warburton and Hanmer] have reached the sense of the author, which may be very commodiously explained thus;
We suffer at our highest state of elevation in the thoughts of mankind for that which others do, and when we fall, those that contented themselves only to think ill before, call us to answer in our own names for the merits of others. We are therefore to be pitied. Merits is in this place taken in an ill sense, for actions meriting censure.
If any alteration be necessary, I should only propose, Be ‘t known, that we at greatest, &c.
V.ii.185 (259,1) Make not your thoughts your prisons] I once wished to read,
make not your thoughts your poison:—
Do not destroy yourself by musing on your misfortune. Yet I would change nothing, as the old reading presents a very proper sense. Be not a prisoner in imagination, when in reality you are free.
V.ii.215 (261,2) scald rhimers] Sir T. Hanmer reads,
—stall ‘d rhimers.
Scald was a word of contempt, implying poverty, disease, and filth.
V.ii.216 (261,3) quick comedians] The gay inventive players.
V.ii.226 (261,5) Their most absurd intents] [T: assured] I have preserved the old reading. The design certainly appeared absurd enough to Cleopatra, both as she thought it unreasonable in itself, and as she knew it would fail.
V.ii.243 (263,7) the pretty worm of Nilus] Worm is the Teutonick word for serpent; we have the blind-worm and slow-worm still in our language, and the Norwegians call an enormous monster, seen sometimes in the northern ocean, the sea-worm.
V.ii.264 (263,9) the worm will do him kind] The serpent will act according to his nature.
V.ii.305 (205,2) He’ll make demand of her, and spend that kiss,/ Which is my heaven to have] He will enquire of her concerning me, and kiss her for giving him intelligence.
V.ii.352 (267,5) something blown] The flesh is somewhat puffed or swoln.
(268) General Observation. This play keeps curiosity always busy, and the passions always interested. The continual hurry of the action, the variety of incidents, and the quick succession of one personage to another, call the mind forward without intermission from the first act to the last. But the power of delighting is derived principally from the frequent changes of the scene; for, except the feminine arts, some of which are too low, which distinguish Cleopatra, no character is very strongly discriminated. Upton, who did not easily miss what he desired to find, has discovered that the language of Antony is, with great skill and learning, made pompous and superb, according to his real practice. But I think his diction not distinguishable from that of others: the most tumid speech in the play is that which Caesar makes to Octavia.
The events, of which the principal are described according to history, are produced without any art of connexion or care of disposition.
TIMON OF ATHENS
Poet. Ay, that’s well known:
But what particular rarity! what strange,
Which manifold record not matches? See,
Magick of bounty!]
The learned commentator’s [Warburton’s] note must shift for itself. I cannot but think that this passage is at present in confusion. The poet asks a question, and stays not for an answer, nor has his question any apparent drift or consequence. I would range the passage thus:
Poet. Ay, that’s well known.
Bat what particular rarity? what so strange,
That manifold record not matches?
Poet. Magick of—bounty, &c.
It may not be improperly observed here, that as there is only one copy of this play, no help can be had from collation, and more liberty must be allowed to conjecture.
I.i.10 (272,4) breath’d as it were/To an untirable and continuate goodness] Breathed is inured by constant practice; so trained as not to be wearied. To breathe a horse, is to exercise him for the course.
I.i.20 (273,8) Poet.
A thing slipt idly from me.
Our poesy is as a gum, which oozes
From whence ’tis nourished. The fire i’ the flint
Shews not, ’till it be struck: our gentle flame
Provokes itself, and, like the current flies
Each bound it chafes. What have you there!]
This speech of the poet is very obscure. He seems to boast the copiousness and facility of his vein, by declaring that verses drop from a poet as gums from odoriferous trees, and that his flame kindles itself without the violence necessary to elicit sparkles from the flint. What follows next? that it, like a current, flies each bound it chafes. This may mean, that it expands itself notwithstanding all obstructions: but the images in the comparison are so ill-sorted, and the effect so obscurely expressed, that I cannot but think something omitted that connected the last sentence with the former. It is well knovn that the players often shorten speeches to quicken the representation; and it may be suspected, that they sometimes performed their amputations with more haste than judgment, (see 1765, VI, 169, 6)
I.i.27 (274,9) Poet. Upon the heels of my presentment, sir.] As soon as my book has been presented to lord Timon.
I.i.29 (274,1) This comes off weil and excellent] [By this we are to understand what the painters call the goings off of a picture, which requires the nicest execution. WARBURTON.] The note I understand less than the text. The meaning is, This figure rises weil from the canvas. C’est bien relevè.
I.i.37 (275,3) artificial strife] Strife is either the contest or act with nature.
Hic ille est Raphael, timuit, quo aospite vinci
Rerum magna parens, & moriente, mori.
Or it is the contrast of forms or opposition of colours.
I.i.43 (275,4) this confluence, this great flood of visitors] Mane salutantúm totis vomit aedibus undam.
I.1.46 (275,5) Halts not particularly] My design does not stop at any single characters.
no levell’d malice
Infects one comma in the course I hold;
But flies an eagle-flight, bold, and forth on,
Leaving no tract behind]
To level is to aim, to point the shot at a mark. Shakespeare’s meaning is, my poem is not a satire written with any particular view, or levelled at any single person; I fly like an eagle into the general expanse of life, and leave not, by any private mischief, the trace of my passage.
I.i.51 (276,8) I’ll unbolt] I’ll open, I’ll explain.
I.i.53 (276,9) glib and slippery creatures] Hanmer, and Warburton after him, read, natures. Slippery is smooth, unresisting.
I.i.58 (276,1) glass-fac’d flatterer] That shows in his own look, as by reflection, the looks of his patron.
I.i.65 (277,3) rank’d with all deserts] Cover’d with ranks of all kinds of men.
I.i.67 (277,4) To propagate their states] To advance or improve their various conditions of life.
I.i.72 (277,5) conceiv’d to scope] Properly imagined, appositely, to the purpose.
I.i.82 (278,8) through him/Drink the free air] That is, catch his breath in affected fondness.
I.i.90 (278,9) A thousand moral paintings I can shew] Shakespeare seems to intend in this dialogue to express some competition between the two great arts of imitation. Whatever the poet declares himself to have shewn, the painter thinks he could have shewn better. (1773)
I.i.107 (279,1) ‘Tis not enough to help the feeble up,/But to support him after] This thought is better expressed by Dr. Madden in his elegy on archbishop Boulter.
—He thought it mean
Only to help the poor to beg again.
I.i.129 (280,2) Therefore he will be, Timon] I rather think an emendation necessary, and read,
Therefore well be him, Timon.
His honesty rewards him in itself.
That is, If he in honest, bene fit illi, I wish him the proper happiness of an honest man, but his honesty gives him no claim to my daughter.
The first transcriber probably wrote will be him, which the next, not understanding, changed to, he will be. (1773)
That state, or fortune, fall into my keeping,
Which is not ow’d to you!]
The meaning is, let me never henceforth consider any thing that I possess, but as owed or due to you; held for your service, and at your disposal.
I.i.159 (281,4) pencil’d figures are/Even such as they give out] Pictures have no hypocrisy; they are what they profess to be.
I.i.165 (282,5) unclew me quite] To unclew, is to unwind a ball of thread. To unclew a man, is to draw out the whole mass of his fortunes.
I.i.171 (282,5) Are prized by their masters] Are rated according to the, esteem in which their possessor is held.
Tim. Good-morrow to thee, gentle Apemantua!
Apam. ‘Till I be gentle, stay for thy good-morrow.
When thou art Timon’s dog, and these knaves honest,—]
[Warburton conjectured a line lost and added one of his own making] I think my punctuation may clear the passage without any greater effort.
I.i.180 (283,9) Then thou art Timon’s dog] When thou hast gotten a better character, and instead of being Timon, as thou art, shalt be changed to Timon’s dog, and become more worth; of kindness and salutation. (1773)
I.i.241 (284,9) That I had no angry wit to be a lord] [W: so hungry a wit] The meaning may be, I should hate myself for patiently enduring to be a lord. This is ill enough expressed. Perhaps some happy change may set it right. I have tried, and can do nothing, yet I cannot heartily concur with Dr. Warburton.
I.i.259 (286,2) The strain of man’s bred out/Into baboon and monkey] Man is exhausted and degenerated; his strain or lineage is worn down into monkey.
If our betters play at that game, we must not dare
To imitate them. Faults that are rich, are fair]
[Warburton gave the second line to Apemantus] I cannot see that these lines are more proper in any other mouth than Timon’s, to whose character of generosity and condescension they are very suitable. To suppose that by our betters are meant the Gods, is very harsh, because to imitate the Gods has been hitherto reckoned the highest pitch of human virtue. The whole is a trite and obvious thought, uttered by Timon with a kind of affected modesty. If I would make any alteration, it should be only to reform the numbers thus:
Our betters play that game; we must not dare
T’ imitate then; faults that are rich are fair.
I.ii.34 (289,6) thou art an Athenian,/Therefore welcome: I myself would have no power] If this be the true reading, the sense is, all Athenians are welcome to share my fortune; I would myself have no exclusive right or power in this house. Perhaps we might read, I myself would have no poor. I would have every Athenian consider himself as joint possessor of my fortune.
I.ii.38 (289,7) I scorn thy meat, ‘twould choke me, for I should/ Ne’er flatter thee] [W: ‘fore/I should e’er] Of this emendation there is little need. The meaning is, I could not swallow thy meat, for I could not pay for it with flattery; and what was given me with an ill will would stick in my throat.
I.ii.41 (290,8) so many dip their meat/In one man’s blood] The allusion is to a pack of hounds trained to pursuit by being gratified with the blood of the animal which they kill, and the wonder is that the animal on which they are feeding cheers them to the chase.
I.ii.52 (290,9) wind-pipe’s dangerous notes] The notes of the windpipe seem to be the only indications which shew where the windpipe is. (see 1765, VI, 184, 4)
I.ii.54 (290,1) My lord, in heart] That is, my lord’s health with sincerity. An emendation hat been proposed thus:
My love in heart;—
but it is not necessary.
I.ii.89 (292,2) we should think ourselves for ever perfect] That is, arrived at the perfection of happiness.
I.ii.94 (292,4) did not you chiefly belong to my heart?] I think it should be inverted thus: did I not chiefly belong to your hearts. Lacius wishes that Timon would give him and the rest an opportunity of expressing some part of their zeals. Timon answers that, doubtless the Gods have provided that I should have help from you; how else are you my friends? why are you stiled my friends, if—what? if I do not love you. Such is the present reading; but the consequence is not very clear; the proper close must be, if you do not love me, and to this my alteration restores it. But, perhaps, the old reading may stand. [The Revisal‘s note on this line is quoted.] The meaning is probably this. Why are you distinguished from thousands by that title of endearment, was there not a particular connection and intercourse of tenderness between you and me. (see 1765, VI, 185, 8)
I.ii.97 (293,5) I confirm you] I fix your characters firmly in my own mind.
I.ii.99 (293,7) O joy, e’en made away, ere it can be born!] For this Hanmer writes, O joy, e’en made a joy ere’t can be born; and is followed by Dr. Warburton. I am always inclinable to think well of that which is approved by so much learning and sagacity, yet cannot receive this alteration. Tears being the effect both of joy and grief, supplied our author with an opportunity of conceit, which he seldom fails to indulge. Timon, weeping with a kind of tender pleasure, cries out, O joy, e’en made away, destroyed, turned to tears, before it can be born, before it can be fully possessed.
I.ii.110 (293,8) Mine eyes cannot hold water, methinks: to forget their faults, I drink to you] In the original edition the words stand thus: mine eyes cannot hold out water, methinks. To forget their faults, I drink to you. Perhaps the true reading is this,Mine eyes cannot hold out; they water. Methinks, to forget their faults, I will drink to you. Or it may be explained without any change. Mine eyes cannot hold out water, that is, cannot keep water from breaking in upon them, (see 1765, VI, 186, 2)
I.ii.113 (294,9) Apem. Thou weep’st to make them drink] Hanmer reads,
—to make then drink thee,
and is again followed by Dr. Warburton, I think without sufficient reason. The covert sense of Apemantus is, what thou losest, they get.
I.ii.118 (294,1) like a babe] That is a weeping babe.
They dance! They are mad women.
Like madness is the glory of this life,
As this pomp shews to a little oil and root]
[Warburton conjectured some lines lost after the second verse] When I read this passage, I was at first of the same opinion with this learned man; but, upon longer consideration, I grew less confident, because I think the present reading susceptible of explanation, with no more violence to language than is frequently found in our author. The glory of this life is very near to madness, as may be made appear from this pomp, exhibited in a place where a philosopher is feeding on oil and roots. When we see by example how few are the necessaries of life, we learn what madness there is in so much superfluity.
I.ii.146 (296,5) who dies, that bears/Not one spurn to their graves, of their friends gift?] That is, given them by their friends.(1773)
I.ii.155 (297,6) mine own device] The mask appears to have been design’d by Timon to surprise his guests.
I.ii.157 (297,7) L Lady. My lord, you take us even at the best] This answer seems rather to belong to one of the ladies. It was probably only mark’d L in the copy.
I.ii.169 (298,1) ‘Tis pity, bounty has not eyes behind] To see the miseries that are following her.
I.ii.170 (298,2) That man might ne’er be wretched for his mind] For nobleness of soul.
I.ii.176 (298,3) to/Advance this jewel] To prefer it; to raise it to honour by wearing it.
all the lands thou hast
Lie in a pitch’d field.
Alc. I’ defiled land, my lord]
This is the old reading, which apparently depends on a very low quibble. Alcibiades is told, that his estate lies in a pitch’d field. Now pitch, as Falstaff says, doth defile. Alcibiades therefore replies, that his estate lies in defiled land. This, as it happened, was not understood, and all the editors published,
I defy land,—
I.ii.237 (301,8) Serving of becks] [W: serring] The commentator conceives beck to mean the mouth or the head, after the French, bec, whereas it means a salutation made with the head. So Milton,
“Nods and becks, and wreathed smiles.”
To serve a beck, is to offer a salutation.
I.ii.238 (301,9) I doubt, whether their legs] He plays upon the word leg, as it signifies a limb and a bow or act of obeisance.
I.ii.247 (302,1) I fear me, thou/Wilt give away thyself in paper shortly] [W: in proper] Hanmer reads very plausibly,
Wilt give away thyself in perpetuum.
I.ii.235 (302,2) I’ll lock/Thy heaven from thee] The pleasure of being flattered.
II.i.10 (304,5) No porter at his gate;/But rather one that smiles, and still invites] I imagine that a line is lost here, in which the behaviour of a surly porter was described.
II.i.12 (304,6) no reason/Can found his state in safety] The supposed meaning of this [Can sound his state] must be, No reason, by sounding, fathoming, or trying, his state, can find it safe. But as the words stand, they imply, that no reason can safelysound his state. I read thus,
Can found his state in safety.—
Reason cannot find his fortune to have any safe or solid foundation.
The types of the first printer of this play were so worn and defaced, that f and s are not always to be distinguished.
II.ii.5 (305,9) Never mind/Was to be so unwise, to be so kind] Of this mode of expression conversation affords many examples: “I was always to be blamed, whatever happened.” “I am in the lottery, but I was always to draw blanks.” (1773)
II.ii.9 (306,1) Good even, Varro] It is observable, that this good evening is before dinner; for Timon tells Alcibiades, that they will go forth again as soon as dinner’s done, which may prove that by dinner our author meant not the coena of ancient times, but the mid-day’s repast. I do not suppose the passage corrupt: such inadvertencies neither author nor editor can escape.
There is another remark to be made. Varro and Isidore sink a few lines afterwards into the servants of Varro and Isidore. Whether servants, in our author’s time, took the names of their masters, I know not. Perhaps it is a slip of negligence.
II.ii.47 (308,4) Enter Apemantus and a Fool] I suspect some scene to be lost, in which the entrance of the fool, and the page that follows him, was prepared by some introductory dialogue, in which the audience was informed that they were the fool and page of Phrynia, Timandra, or some other courtesan, upon the knowledge of which depends the greater part of the ensuing jocularity.
II.ii.60-66 (309,4) Poor rogues] This is said so abruptly, that I am inclined to think it misplaced, and would regulate the passage thus:
Caph. Where’s the fool now?
Apem. He last ask’d the question.
All. What are we, Apemantus?
Apem. That you ask me what you are, and do not know yourselves. Poor rogues’, and usurers’ men! bawds between
gold and want! Speak, &c.
Thus every word will have its proper place. It is likely that the passage transposed was forgot in the copy, and inserted in the margin, perhaps a little beside the proper place, which the transcriber wanting either skill or care to observe, wrote it where it now stands.
II.ii.71 (309,5) She’s e’en setting on water to scald] The old name for the disease got at Corinth was the brenning, and a sense of scalding is one of its first symptoms.
II.ii.117 (311,7) with two stones more than’s artificial one] Meaning the celebrated philosopher’s stone, which was in those times much talked of. Sir Thomas Smith was one of those who lost considerable sums in seeking of it.
II.ii.152 (312,9) Though you hear now, yet now’s too late a time] [Warburton objected to this, an emendation by Hanmer] I think Hanmer right, and have received his emendation.
Il.ii.155 (313,1) and at length/How goes our reckoning?] [W: Hold good our] It is common enough, and the commentator knows it is common to propose interrogatively, that of which neither the speaker nor the hearer has any doubt. The present reading may therefore stand.
II.ii.171 (314,2) a wasteful cock] [i.e. a cockloft, a garret. And a wasteful cock, signifies a garret lying in waste, neglected, put to no use. HANMER.] Hanmer’s explanation is received by Dr. Warburton, yet I think them both apparently mistaken. Awasteful cock is a cock or pipe with a turning stopple running to waste. In this sense, both the terms have their usual meaning; but I know not that cock is ever used for cockloft, or wasteful for lying in waste, or that lying in waste is at all a phrase.
Il.ii.187 (314,4) And try the arguments] [Arguments for natures. WARB.] How arguments should stand for natures I do not see. But the licentiousness of our author forces us often upon far fetched expositions. Arguments may mean contents, as thearguments of a book; or for evidences and proofs.
II.ii.209 (315,5) I knew it the most general way] General is not speedy, but compendious, the way to try many at a time.
II.ii.219 (316,6) And so, intending other serious matters] Intending is regarding, turning their notice to other things.
II.ii.220 (316,7) these hard fractions] [Warburton saw an allusion to fractions in mathematics] This is, I think, no conceit in the head of Flavius, who, by fractions, means broken hints, interrupted sentences, abrupt remarks.
II.ii.221 (316,8) half-caps] A half cap is a cap slightly moved, not put off.
II.ii.241 (317,3) I would, I could not] The original edition has, I would, I could not think it, that thought, &c. It has been changed [‘Would], to mend the numbers, without authority.
That thought is bounty’s foe;
Being free itself, it thinks all other so]
Free, is liberal, not parsimonious.
III.i.57 (319,6) Has friendship such a faint and milky heart, It turns in less than two nights?] Alluding to the turning or acescence of milk.
III.ii.3 (320,3) We know him for no less] That is, we know him by report to be no less than you represent him, though we are strangers to his person.
III.ii.24 (321,5) yet had he mistook him, and sent him to me] [W: mislook’d] I rather read, yet had he not mistook him, and sent to me.
III.ii.45 (322,7) If his occasion were not virtuous] [Virtuous, for strong, forcible, pressing. WARBURTON.] The meaning may more naturally be;—If he did not want it for a good use. (1773)
III.ii.51 (322,9) that I should purchase the day before for a little part, and undo a great deal of honour?] [T: a little dirt] This emendation is received, like all others, by sir T. Hanmer, but neglected by Dr. Warburton. I think Theobald right in suspecting a corruption; nor is his emendation injudicious, though perhaps we may better read, purchase the day before for a little park.
III.ii.71 (323,1) And just of the same piece is every flatterer’s soul] This is Dr. Warburton’s emendation. The other editions read,
Why this is the world’s soul;
Of the same piece is every flatterer’s sport.
Mr. Upton has not unluckily transposed the two final words, thus,
Why, this is the world’s sport:
Of the same piece is ev’ry flatterer’s soul.
The passage is not so obscure as to provoke so much enquiry. This, says he, is the soul or spirit of the world: every flatterer plays the same game, makes sport with the confidence of his friend. (see 1765, VI, 211, 4)
III.ii.81 (324,2) He does deny him, in respect of his, What charitable men afford to beggars] That is, in respect of his fortune, what Lucius denies to Timon is in proportion to what Lucius possesses, less than the ususal alms given by good men to beggars.
III.ii.90 (324,3) I would have put my wealth into donation, And the best half should ha’ return’d to him] Hanmer reads,
I would have put my wealth into partition,
And the best half should have attorn’d to him.
Dr. Warbarton receives attorn’d. The only difficulty is in the word return’d, which, since he had received nothing from him, cannot be used but in a very low and licentious meaning, (see 1765, VI, 212, 6)
III.iii.5 (325,4) They have all been touch’d] That is, tried, alluding to the touchstone.
III.iii.11 (325,5) His friends, like physicians,/Thrive, give him over?] The original reading is,
—his friends, (like physicians)
Thrive, give him over?
which Theobald has misrepresented. Hanmer reads, try’d, plausibly enough. Instead of three proposed by Mr. Pope, I should read thrice. But perhaps the old reading is the true.
III.iii.24 (326,6) I had such a courage] Such an ardour, such an eager desire.
III.iii.28 (326,8) The devil knew not what he did] I cannot but think that, the negative not has intruded into this passage, and the reader will think so too, when he reads Dr. Warburton’s explanation of the next words.
III.iii.28 (326,9) The devil knew not what he did, when he made men politick; he cross’d himself by’t: and I cannot think, but in the end the villainies of man will set him clear] [Set him clear does not mean acquit him before heaven; for then the devil must be supposed to know what he did: but it signifies puzzle him, outdo him at his own weapons. WARBURTON.] How the devil, or any other being, should be set clear by being puzzled and outdone, the commentator has not explained. When in a crowd we would have an opening made, we say, Stand clear, that is, out of the way of danger. With some affinity to this use, though not without great harshness, to set clear, may be to set aside. But I believe the original corruption is the insertion of the negative, which was obtruded by some transcriber, who supposed crossed to mean thwarted, when it meant, exempted from evil. The use of crossing, by way of protection or purification, was probably not worn out in Shakespeare’s time. The sense of set clear is now easy; he has no longer the guilt of tempting man. To cross himself may mean, in a very familiar sense, to clear his score, to get out of debt, to quit his reckoning. He knew not what he did, may mean, he knew not how much good he was doing himself. There is then no need of emendation. (1773)
III.iii.42 (327,2) keep his house] i.e. keep within doors for fear of duns.
III.iv (328,3) Enter Varro, Titus, Hortense, Lucius] Lucius is here again for the servant of Lucius.
III.iv.12 (328,4) a prodigal’s course/Is like the sun’s] That is, like him in blaze and splendour.
Soles occidere et redire possunt. Catul.
III.iv.25 (329,5) I am weary of this charge] That is, of this commission, of this employment.
III.iv.32 (329,6) Else, surely, his had equall’d] Should it not be, else, surely, mine had equall’d.
III.iv.67 (330,7) Enter Servilius] It may be observed that Shakespeare has unskilfully filled his Greek story with Roman names.
He is a man, setting his fate aside,
Of comely virtues:
Nor did he soil the fact with cowardise;
(An honour in him which buys out his fault)]
I have printed these lines after the original copy, except that, for an honour, it is there, and honour. All the latter editions deviate unwarrantably from the original, and give the lines thus:
He is a man, setting his fault aside,
Of virtuous honour, which buys out his fault;
Nor did he soil, &c.
He did behave, his anger ere ’twas spent,
As if he had but prov’d an argument]
The original copy reads not behave but behoove. I do not well understand the passage in either reading. Shall we try a daring conjecture?
—with such sober and unnoted passion
He did behold his adversary shent,
As if he had but prov’d an argument.
He looked with such calmness on his slain adversary. I do not suppose that this is right, but put it down for want of better. (1773)
III.v.24 (334,4) You undergo too strict a paradox] You undertake a paradox too hard.
III.v.32 (334,5) and make his wrongs His outsides: to wear them like an argument, carelessly. We outside wear; hang like his] The present reading is better.
III.v.46 (335,6) What make we/Abroad?] What do we, or what have we to do in the field.
what make we
Abroad? why then, women are more valiant,
That stay at home, if bearing carry it;
The ass, more than the lion; and the fellow,
Loaden with irons, wiser than the judge,
If wisdom be in suffering]
Here is another arbitrary regulation, the original reads thus,
what make we
Abroad, why then women are more valiant
That stay at home, if bearing carry it:
And the ass more captain than the lion,
The fellow, loaden with irons, wiser than the judge,
If wisdom, &c.
I think it may be better adjusted thus:
what make we
Abroad, why then the women are more valiant
That stay at home;
If bearing carry it, than is the ass
More captain than the lion, and the felon
Loaden with irons, wiser than the judge,
If wisdom, &c.
III.v.54 (336,8) sin’s extreamest gust] Gust is here in its common sense; the utmost degree of appetite for sin.
III.v.55 (336,9) by mercy, ’tis most just] [By mercy is meant equity. WARBURTON] Mercy is not put for equity. If such explanation be allowed, what can be difficult? The meaning is, I call mercy herself to witness, that defensive violence is just.
III.v.68 (338,2) a sworn rioter] A sworn rioter is a man who practises riot, as if he had by an oath made it his duty.
III.v.80 (337,3) your reverend ages love/Security] He charges them obliquely with being usurers.
III.v.96 (337,5) Do you dare our anger?/’Tis in few words, but spacious in effect] This reading may pass, but perhaps the author wrote,
‘Tis few in words, but spacious in effect.
I’ll cheer up
My discontented troops, and play for hearts.
‘Tis honour with most hands to be at odds]
[Warburton had substituted “hands” for “lands”] I think hands is very properly substituted for lands. In the foregoing line, for, lay for hearts, I would read, play for hearts.
III.vi.4 (339,7) Upon that were my thoughts tiring] A hawk, I think, is said to tire, when she amuses herself with pecking a pheasant’s wing, or any thing that puts her in mind of prey. To tire upon a thing, is therefore, to be idly employed upon it.
III.vi.100 (342,9) Is your perfection] Your perfection, is the highest of your excellence.
III.vi.101 (342,1) and spangled you with flatteries] [W: with your] The present reading is right.
III.vi.106 (342,2) time-flies] Flies of a season.
III.vi. 107 (342,5) minute-jacks!] Hanmer thinks it means Jack-a-lantern, which shines and disappears in an instant. What it was I know not; but it was something of quick motion, mentioned in Richard III.
III.vi.108 (342,4) the infinite malady] Every kind of disease incident to man and beast.
Degrees, observances, customs and laws,
Decline to your confounding contraries,
And yet confusion live!]
Hanmer reads, let confusion; but the meaning may be, though by such confusion all things seem to hasten to dissolution, yet let not dissolution come, but the miseries of confusion continue.
IV.ii (345,1) Enter Flavius] Nothing contributes more to the exaltation of Timon’s character than the zeal and fidelity of his servants. Nothing but real virtue can be honoured by domesticks; nothing but impartial kindness can gain affection from dependants.
IV.ii.10 (345,2) So his familiars from his buried fortunes/Slink all away] The old copies have to instead of from. The correction is Hanmer’s; but the old reading might stand (see 1765, VI, 231, 2)
IV.ii.38 (346,4) strange unusual blood] Of this passage, I suppose, every reader would wish for a correction; but the word, harsh as it is, stands fortified by the rhyme, to which, perhaps, it owes its introduction. I know not what to propose. Perhaps,
—strange unusual mood,
may, by some, be thought better, and by others worse.
IV.iii.1 (347,5) O blessed, breeding sun] [W: blessing breeding] I do not see that this emendation much strengthens the sense.
IV.iii.2 (347,6) thy sister’s orb] That is, the moon’s, this sublunary world.
IV.iii.6 (348,7) Not nature,/To whom all sores lay siege] I have preserved this note rather for the sake of the commentator [Warburton] than of the author. How nature, to whom all sores lay siege, can so emphatically express nature in its greatest perfection, I shall not endeavour to explain. The meaning I take to be this: Brother, when his fortune is inlarged, will scorn brother; for this is the general depravity of human nature, which, besieged as it is by misery, admonished as it is of want and imperfection, when elevated by fortune, will despise beings of nature like its own.
IV.iii.12 (349,9) It is the pastor lards the brother’s sides,/The want that makes him leave] [W: weather’s sides] This passage is very obscure, nor do I discover any clear sense, even though we should admit the emendation. Let us inspect the text as I have given it from the original edition,
It is the pastour lards the brother’s sides,
The want that makes him leave.
Dr. Warburton found the passage already changed thus,
It is the pasture lards the beggar’s sides,
The want that makes him lean.
And upon this reading of no authority, raised another equally uncertain.
Alterations are never to be made without necessity. Let us see what sense the genuine reading will afford. Poverty, says the poet, bears contempt hereditary, and wealth native honour. To illustrate this position, having already mentioned the case of a poor and rich brother, he remarks, that this preference is given to wealth by those whom it least becomes; it is the pastour that greases or flatters the rich brother, and will grease him on till want makes him leave. The poet then goes on to ask, Who dares to say this man, this pastour, is a flatterer; the crime is universal; through all the world the learned pate, with allusion to the pastour, ducks to the golden fool. If it be objected, as it may justly be, that the mention of pastour is unsuitable, we must remember the mention of grace and cherubims in this play, and many such anachronisms in many others. I would therefore read thus:
It is the pastour lards the brother’s sides,
‘Tis want that makes him leave.
The obscurity is still great. Perhaps a line is lost. I have at least given the original reading.
IV.iii.27 (350,2) no idle votarist] No insincere or inconstant supplicant. Gold will not serve me instead of roots.
IV.iii.38 (351,5) That makes the wappen’d widow wed again] Of wappened I have found no example, nor know any meaning. To awhape is used by Spenser in his Hubberd’s Tale, but I think not in either of the senses mentioned. I would read wained, for decayed by time. So our author in Richard the Third, A beauty-waining and distressed widow.
IV.iii.41 (352,6) To the April day again] That is, to the wedding day, called by the poet, satirically, April day, or fool’s day.
IV.iii.44 (352,7) Do thy right nature] Lie in the earth where nature laid thee.
IV.iii.44 (352,8) Thou’rt quick] Thou hast life and motion in thee.
IV.iii.64 (353,9) I will not kiss thee] This alludes to an opinion in former times, generally prevalent, that the venereal infection transmitted to another, left the infecter free. I will not, says Timon, take the rot from thy lips by kissing thee.
Tim. Promise me friendship, but perform none. If
Thou wilt not promise, the Gods plague thee, for
Thou art a man; if thou dost perform, confound thee,
For thou art a man!]
That is, however thou may’st act, since thou art man, hated man, I wish thee evil.
Be a whore still! They love thee not that use thee;
Give them diseases, leaving with thee their lust:
Make use of thy salt hours]
There is here a slight transposition. I would read,
—They love thee not that use thee,
Leaving with thee their lust; give them diseases;
Make use of thy salt hours; season the slaves
For tubs and baths;—
IV.iii.115 (356,6) milk-paps,/That through the window-bars bore at mens’ eyes] [W: window-lawn] The reading is more probably,
The virgin that shews her bosom through the lattice of her chamber.
IV.iii.119 (356,8) exhaust their mercy] For exhaust, sir T. Hanmer, and after him Dr. Warburton, read extort; but exhaust here signifies literally to draw forth.
Think it a bastard, whom the oracle
Hath doubtfully prunounc’d thy throat shall cut]
An allusion to the tale of OEdipus.
IV.iii.134 (357,8) And to make whores a bawd] [W: make whole] The old edition reads,
And to make whores a bawd.
That is, enough to make a whore leave whoring, and a bawd leave making whores.
IV.iii.139 (357,9) I’ll trust to your conditions] You need not swear to continue whores, I will trust to your inclinations.
IV.iii.140 (358,1) Yet may your pains, six months,/Be quite contrary] The explanation [Warburton’s] is ingenious, but I think it very remote, and would willingly bring the author and his readers to meet on easier terms. We may read,
—Yet may your pains six months
Be quite contraried.—
Timon is wishing ill to mankind, but is afraid lest the whores should imagine that he wishes well to them; to obviate which he lets them know, that he imprecates upon them influence enough to plague others, and disappointments enough to plague themselves. He wishes that they may do all possible mischief, and yet take pains six months of the year in vain.
In this sense there is a connection of this line with the next. Finding your pains contraried, try new expedients, thatch your thin roofs, and paint.
To contrary is on old verb. Latymer relates, that when he went to court, he was advised not to contrary the king.
IV.iii.153 (359,3) mens’ spurring] Hanmer reads sparring, properly enough, if there be any ancient example of the word.
take the bridge quite away
Of him, that his particular to foresee
Smells from the general weal]
[W: to forefend] The metaphor is apparently incongruous, but the sense is good. To foresee his particular, is to provide for his private advantage, for which he leaves the right scent of publick good. In hunting, when hares have cross’d one another, it is common for some of the hounds to smell from the general weal, and foresee their own particular. Shakespeare, who seems to have been a skilful sportsman, and has alluded often to falconry, perhaps, alludes here to hunting.
To the commentator’s emendation it may be objected, that he used forefend in the wrong meaning. To forefend, is, I think, never to provide for, but to provide against. The verbs compounded with for or fore have commonly either an evil or negative sense.
IV.iii.182 (361,8) eyeless venom’d worm] The serpent, which we, from the smallness of his eyes, call the blind worm, and the Latins, caecilia.
IV.iii.183 (361,9) below crisp heaven] [W: cript] Mr. Upton declares for crisp, curled, bent, hollow.
IV.iii.188 (361,1) Let it no more bring out ingrateful man!] [W: out to ungrateful] It is plain that bring out is bring forth, with which the following lines correspond so plainly, that the commentator might be suspected of writing his note without reading the whole passage.
IV.iii.193 (362,2) Dry up thy marrows, vines, and plough torn leas] I cannot concur to censure Theobald [as Warburton did] as a critic very unhappy. He was weak, but he was cautious: finding but little power in his mind, he rarely ventured far under its conduct. This timidity hindered him from daring conjectures, and sometimes hindered him happily.
This passage, among many others, may pass without change. The genuine reading is not marrows, veins, but marrows, vines: the sense is this; O nature! cease to produce men, ensear thy womb; but if thou wilt continue to produce them, at least cease to pamper them; dry up thy marrows, on which they fatten with unctuous morsels, thy vines, which give them liquorish draughts, and thy plow-torn leas. Here are effects corresponding with causes, liquorish draughts with vines, and unctuous morsels with marrows, and the old reading literally preserved.
IV.iii.209 (363,3) the cunning of a carper] Cunning here seems to signify counterfeit appearance.
IV.ii.223 (364,4) moist trees] Hanmer reads very elegantly,
Tim. Always a villain’s office, or a fool’s.
Dost please thyself in’t?
Tim. What! a knave too?]
Such was Dr. Warburton’s first conjecture [“and know’t too”], but afterwards he adopted Sir T. Hanmer’s conjecture,
What a knave thou!
but there is no need of alteration. Timon had just called Apemantus fool, in consequence of what he had known of him by former acquaintance; but when Apemantus tells him, that he comes to vex him, Timon determines that to vex is either the office of a villain or a fool; that to vex by design is villainy, to vex without design is folly. He then properly asks Apemantus whether he takes delight in vexing, and when he answers, yes, Timon replies, What! and knave too? I before only knew thee to be a fool, but I now find thee likewise a knave. This seems to be so clear as not to stand in need of a comment.
IV.iii.242 (365,6) Willing misery/Out-lives incertain pomp; is crown’d before] Arrives sooner at high wish; that is, at the completion of its wishes.
IV.iii.247 (365,7) Worse than the worst, content] Best states contentless have a wretched being, a being worse than that of the worst states that are content. This one would think too plain to have been mistaken. (1773)
IV.iii.249 (365,8) by his breath] It means, I believe, by his counsel, by his direction.
IV. iii. 252 (366,l) Hadst thou, like us] There is in this speech a sullen haughtiness, and malignant dignity, suitable at once to the lord and the man-hater. The impatience with which he bears to have his luxury reproached by one that never had luxury within his reach, is natural and graceful.
There is in a letter, written by the earl of Essex, just before his execution, to another nobleman, a passage somewhat resembling this, with which, I believe every reader will be pleased, though it is so serious and solemn that it can scarcely be inserted without irreverence.
“God grant your lordship may quickly feel the comfort I now enjoy in my unfettered conversion, but that you may never feel the torments I have suffered for my long delaying it. I had none but deceivers to call upon me, to whom I said, if my ambition could have entered into their narrow breasts, they would not have been so precise. But your lordship hath one to call upon you, that knoweth what it is you now enjoy; and what the greatest fruit and end is of all contentment that this world can afford. Think, therefore, dear earl, that I have staked and buoyed all the ways of pleasure unto you, and left them as sea-marks for you to keep the channel of religious virtue. For shut your eyes never so long, they must be open at the last, and then you must say with me, there is no peace to the ungodly.”
IV.iii.252 (366,2) from our first swath] From infancy. Swath is the dress of a new-born child.
IV.iii.258 (366,3) precepts of respect] Of obedience to laws.
IV.iii.259 (366,4) But myself] The connection here requires some attention. But is here used to denote opposition; but what immediately precedes is not opposed to that which follows. The adversative particle refers to the two first lines.
Thou art a slave, whom fortune’s tender arm
With favour never claspt; but bred a dog.
Who had the world as my confectionary, &c.
The intermediate lines are to be considered as a parenthesis of passion.
IV.iii.271 (367,5) If thou wilt curse, thy father, that poor rag,/ Must be thy subject] If we read poor rogue, it will correspond rather better to what follows.
IV.iii.276 (367,6) Thou hadst been knave and flatterer] Dryden has quoted two verses of Virgil to shew how well he could have written satires. Shakespeare has here given a specimen of the same power by a line bitter beyond all bitterness, in which Timon tells Apemantus, that he had not virtue enough for the vices which he condemns.
Dr. Warburton explains worst by lowest, which somewhat weakens the sense, and yet leaves it sufficiently vigorous.
I have heard Mr. Bourke commend the subtilty of discrimination with which Shakespeare distinguishes the present character of Timon from that of Apemantus, whom to vulgar eyes he would now resemble. (see 1763, VI, 249, 6) (rev. 1778, VIII, 424, 4)
IV.iii.308 (369,8) Ay, though it look like thee] Timon here supposes that an objection against hatred, which through the whole tenor of the conversation appears an argument for it. One would have expected him to have answered,
Yes, for it looks like thee.
The old edition, which always gives the pronoun instead of the affirmative particle, has it,
I, though it look like thee.
Perhaps we should read,
I thought it look’d like thee.
IV,iii.363 (371,2) Thou art the cap] i.e. the property, the bubble. WARBURTON.] I rather think, the top, the principal.
The remaining dialogue has more malignity than wit.
IV.iii.383 (372,4) ‘Twixt natural, son and sire!’]
[Greek: dia touton ouk adelphoi
dia touton ou toxaeas. ANAC.]
IV.iii.398 (373,6) More things like men?] This line, in the old edition, is given to Aremantus, but it apparently belongs to Timon. Hanmer has transposed the foregoing dialogue according to his own mind, not unskilfully, but with unwarrantable licence.
IV.iii.419 (373,7) you want much of meat] [T: of meet] Such is Mr. Theobald’s emendation, in which he is followed by Dr. Warburton. Sir T. Hanmer reads,
—you want much of men.
They have been all busy without necessity. Observe the series of the conversation. The thieves tell him, that they are men that much do want. Here is an ambiguity between much want and want of much. Timon takes it on the wrong side, and tells them that their greatest want is, that, like other men, they want much of meat; then telling them where meat may be had, he asks, Want? why want? (see 1765, VI, 254, 5)
IV.iii.420 (374,8) the earth hath roots;/Within this mile break forth an hundred springs]
Vile plus, et duris haerentia mora rubetis
Pugnantis stomachi composuere famen:
Flumine vicino stultus sitit.
I do not suppose these to be imitations, but only to be similar thoughts on similar occasions.
IV.iii.442 (375,2) The sea’s a thief, whose liquid surge resolves/The moon into salt tears] [W: The mounds] I am not willing to receive mounds, which would not be understood but by him that suggested it. The moon is supposed to be humid, and perhaps a source of humidity, but cannot be resolved by the surges of the sea. Yet I think moon is the true reading. Here is a circulation of thievary described: The sun, moon, and sea all rob, and are robbed.
IV.iii.456 (376,3) ‘Tis in the malice of mankind, that he thus advises us; not to have us thrive in our mystery] [Hanmer: his malice to] Hanmer’s emendation, though not necessary, is very probable, and very unjustly charged with nonsense [by Warburton]. The reason of his advice, says the thief, is malice to mankind, not any kindness to us, or desire to have us thrive in our mystery.
IV.iii.468 (378,5) What an alteration of honour has/Desperate want made!] [W: of humour] The original copy has,
What an alteration of honour has desperate want made!
The present reading is certainly better, but it has no authority. To change honour to humour is not necessary. An alteration of honour, is an alteration of an honourable state to a state of disgrace.
Grant, I may ever love, and rather woe
Those that would mischief me, than those that do!]
[W: rather too/…that woo] In defiance of this criticism, I have ventured to replace the former reading, as more suitable to the general spirit of these scenes, and as free from the absurdities charged upon it. It is plain, that in this whole speech friends andenemies are taken only for those who profess friendship and profess enmity; for the friend is supposed not to be more kind, but more dangerous than the enemy. In the amendation, those that would mischief are placed in opposition to those that woo, but in the speaker’s intention those that woo are those that mischief most. The sense is, Let me rather woo or caress those that would mischief, that profess to mean me mischief, than those that really do me mischief under false professions of kindness. The Spaniards, I think, have this proverb; Defend me from my friends, and from my enemies I will defend myself. This proverb is a sufficient comment on the passage.
IV.iii.484 (379,9) all/I kept were knaves, to serve in meat to villains] Knave is here in the compounded sense of a servant and a rascal.
IV.iii.492 (379,1) Pity’s sleeping] I do not know that any correction is necessary, but I think we might read,
—eyes do never give
But thorough lust and laughter, pity sleeping.
Eyes never flow (to give is to dissolve as saline bodies in moist weather) but by lust or laughter, undisturbed by emotions of pity.
IV.iii.499 (380,2) It almost turns my dangerous nature wild] [W: mild] This emendation is specious, but even this may be controverted. To turn wild is to distract. An appearance so unexpected, says Timon, almost turns my savageness to distraction. Accordingly he examines with nicety lest his phrenzy, should deceive him,
Let me behold thy face. Surely this man
Was born of woman.
And to this suspected disorder of mind he alludes,
Perpetual, sober, Gods!—
Ye powers whose intellects are out of the reach of perturbation.
IV.iii.533 (381,3) thou shalt build from men] Away from human habitations.
V.i (382,5) Enter Poet and Painter] The poet and the painter were within view when Apemantus parted from Timon, and might then have seen Timon, since Apemantus, standing by him could not see them: But the scenes of the thieves and steward have passed before their arrival, and yet passed, as the drama is now conducted within their view. It might be suspected that some scenes are transposed, for all these difficulties would be removed by introducing the poet and painter first, and the thieves in this place. Yet I am afraid the scenes must keep their present order; for the painter alludes to the thieves when he says, he likewise enriched poor straggling soldiers with great quantity. This impropriety is now heightened by placing the thieves in one act, and the poet and painter in another: but it must be remembered, that in the original edition this play is not divided into separate acts, so that the present distribution is arbitrary, and may be changed if any convenience can be gained, or impropriety obviated by alteration.
V.i.47 (384,6) While the day serves, before black-corner’d night] [W: black-cornette] Black-corner’d night is probably corrupt, but black-cornette can hardly be right, for it should be black-cornetted night. I cannot propose any thing, but must leave the place in its present state. (1773)
V.i.101 (386,8) a made-up villain] That is a villain that adopts qualities and characters not properly belonging to him; a hypocrite.
V.i.105 (386,9) drown them in a draught] That is, in the jakes.
But two in company—
Each man apart, all single and alone,
Yet an arch villain keeps him company]
This passage is obscure. I think the meaning is this: but two in company, that is, stand apart, let only two be together; for even when each stands single there are two, he himself and a villain.
V.i.151 (388,3) Of its own fall] [The Oxford editor alters fall to fault, not knowing that Shakespeare uses fall to signify dishonour, not destruction. So in Hamlet,
What a falling off was there! WARBURTON.]
The truth is, that neither fall means disgrace, nor is fault a necessary emendation. Falling off in the quotation is not disgrace but defection. The Athenians had sense, that is, felt the danger of their own fall, by the arms of Alcibiades.
V.i.151 (388,4) restraining aid to Timon] I think it should be refraining aid, that is, with-holding aid that should have been given to Timon.
V.i.154 (389,5) Than their offence can weigh down by the dram] This which was in the former editions can scarcely be right, and yet I know not whether my reading will be thought to rectify it. I take the meaning to be, We will give thee a recompence that our offences cannot outweigh, heaps of wealth down by the dram, or delivered according to the exactest measure. A little disorder may perhaps have happened in transcribing, which may be reformed by reading,
—Ay, ev’n such heaps
And sums of love and wealth, down by the dram,
As shall to thee—
V.i.165 (389,6) Allow’d with absolute power] Allowed is licensed, privileged, uncontrolled. So of a buffoon, in Love’s Labour lost, it is said, that he is allowed, that is, at liberty to say what he will, a privileged scoffer.
V.i.139 (390,7) My long sickness/Of health and living now begins to mend] The disease of life begins to promise me a period.
V.i.211 (391,8) in the sequence of degree] Methodically, from highest to lowest.
V.iii.4 (393,2) Some beast read this; here does not live a man] [W: rear’d] Notwithstanding this remark, I believe the old reading to be the right. The soldier had only seen the rude heap of earth. He had evidently seen something that told him Timon was dead; and what could tell that but his tomb? The tomb he sees, and the inscription upon it, which not being able to read, and finding none to read it for him, he exclaims peevishly, some beast read this, for it must be read, and in this place it cannot be read by man.
There is something elaborately unskilful in the contrivance of sending a soldier, who cannot read, to take the epitaph in wax, only that it may close the play by being read with more solemnity in the last scene.
V.iv.7 (394, 3) traverst arms] Arms across.
V.iv.8 (394,4) the time is flush] A bird is flush when his feathers are grown, and he can leave the nest. Flush is mature.
So did we woo
Transformed Timon to our city’s love,
By humble message, and by promis’d means]
[T: promis’d mends] Dr. Warburton agrees with Mr. Theobald, but the old reading may well stand.
V.iv.28 (395,8) Shame, that they wanted cunning, in excess/Hath broke their hearts] [Theobald had emended the punctuation] I have no wish to disturb the means of Theobald, yet think some emendation nay be offered that will make the construction less harsh, and the sentence more serious. I read,
Shape that they wanted, coming in excess,
Hath broke their hearts.
Shame which they had so long wanted at last coming in its utmost excess.
V.iv.36 (396,8) not square] Not regular, not equitable.
V.iv.35 (397,9) uncharged ports] That is, unguarded gates.
V.iv.59 (397,1) not a man/Shall pass his quarter] Not a soldier shall quit his station, or be let loose upon you; and, if any commits violence, he shall answer it regularly to the law.
V.iv.76 (308.,3) our brain’s flow; Hanmer and Dr. Warburton read,
Our brain’s flow is our tears; but we any read our brine’s flow, our salt tears. Either will serve. (see 1765, VI, 276, 6)
(399) General Observation. The play of Timon is a domestic tragedy, and therefore strongly fastens on the attention of the reader. In the plan there is not much art, but the incidents are natural, and the characters various and exact. The catastrophe affords a very powerful warning against that ostentations liberality, which scatters bounty, but confers no benefits, and buys flattery, but not friendship.
In this tragedy are many passages perplexed, obscure, and probably corrupt, which I have endeavoured to rectify, or explain, with due diligence; but having only one copy, cannot promise myself that my endeavours shall be much applauded.
(403,1) It is observable, that this play is printed in the quarto of 1611, with exactness equal to that of the other books of those times. The first edition was probably corrected by the author, so that here is very little room for conjecture or emendation; and accordingly none of the editors have much molested this piece with officious criticism.
I.i.70 (406,2) Hail, Rome, victorious in thy mourning weeds!] [W: my] Thy is as well as my. We may suppose the Romans in a grateful ceremony, meeting the dead sons of Andronicus with mourning habits.
I.i.77 (407,3) Thou great defender of this Capitol] Jupiter, to whom the Capitol was sacred.
I.i.168 (410,5) And fame’s eternal date for virtue’s praise!] [W: In] To live in fame’s date is, if an allowable, yet a harsh expression. To outlive an eternal date, is, though not philosophical, yet poetical sense. He wishes that her life may be longer than his, and her praise longer than fame.
I.i.309 (414,6) changing piece] Spoken of Lavinia. Piece was then, as it is now, used personally as a word of contempt.
II.i (421,8) In the quarto, the direction is, Manet Aaron, and he is before made to enter with Tamora, though he says nothing. This scene ought to continue the first act.
II.i.9 (421,9) So Tamora—/Upon her wit doth earthly honour wait] [W: her will] I think wit, for which she is eminent in the drama, is right.
II.i.116 (425,2) by kind] That is, by nature, which is the old signification of kind.
II.ii (425,3) Changes to a Forest] The division of this play into acts, which was first made by the editors in 1623, is improper. There is here an interval of action, and here the second act ought to have begun.
And so repose, sweet gold, for their unrest,
That have their alms out of the empress’ chest]
This is obscure. It seems to mean only, that they who are to come at this gold of the empress are to suffer by it.
II.iii.72 (430,9) swarth Cimmerian] Swarth is black. The Moor is called Cimmerien, from the affinity of blackness to darkness.
Bas. The king, my brother, shall have note of this.
Lav. Ay, for these slips have made him noted long]
He had yet been married but one night.
II.iii.104 (431,2) Should straight fall mad, or else die suddenly] This is said in fabulous physiology, of those that hear the groan of the mandrake torn up.
II.iii.126 (432,3) And with that painted hope she braves your mightiness] [W: cope] Painted hope is only specious hope, or ground of confidence more plausible than solid.
II.iii.227 (435,4) A precious ring, that lightens all the hole] There is supposed to be a gem called a carbuncle, which emits not reflected but native light. Mr. Boyle believes the reality of its existence.
II.iv.13 (438,5) If I do dream, ‘would all my wealth would wake me’] If this be a dream, I would give all my possessions to be delivered from it by waking.
III.i.91 (443,8) It was my deer] The play upon deer and dear has been used by Waller, who calls a lady’s girdle, The pale that held my lovely deer.
III.i.216 (447,1) And do not break into these deep extremes] [We should read, instead of this nonsense,
i.e. extremes caused by excessive sorrow. But Mr. Theobald, on his own authority, alters it to deep, without notice given. WARB.] It is deep in the old quarto of 1611, (rev. 1778, VIII, 510, 8)
III.ii (450,2) An apartment in Titus’s house] This scene, which does not contribute any thing to the action, yet seems to have the same author with the rest, is omitted in the quarto of 1611, but found in the folio of 1623.
III.ii.45 (452,3) by still practice] By constant or continual practice.
IV.i.129 (458,6) Revenge the heavens] It should be,
Revenge, ye Heavens!—
Ye was by the transcriber taken for y’e, the.
IV.ii.85 (461,7) I’ll broach the tadpole] A broach is a spit. I’ll spit the tadpole.
IV.ii.99 (462,8) Coal-black is better than another hue,/ In that it seems to bear another hue] We may better read, In that it scorns to bear another hue.
IV.iii.88 (466,1) Yet wrung with wrongs] To wring a horse is to press or strain his back.
IV.iv.90 (472,4) With words more sweet, and yet more dangerous,/ Than baits to fish, or honey-stalks to sheep] Honey-stalks are clover-flowers, which contain a sweet juice. It is common for cattle to over-charge themselves with clover, and die.
V.i.102 (476,7) As true a dog, as ever fought at head] An allusion to bull-dogs, whose generosity and courage are always shown by meeting the bull in front, and seizing his nose.
V.ii.189 (484,1) And of the paste a coffin will I rear] A coffin is the term of art for the cavity of a raised pye.
V.iii.19 (486,2) break the parley] That is, begin the parley. We yet say, he breaks his mind.
(492) General Observation. All the editors and critics agree with Mr. Theobald in supposing this play spurious. I see no reason for differing from them; for the colour of the stile is wholly different from that of the other plays, and there is an attempt at regular versification, and artificial closes, not always inelegant, yet seldom pleasing. The barbarity of the spectacles, and the general massacre, which are here exhibited, can scarcely be conceived tolerable to any audience; yet we are told by Jonson, that they were not only borne, but praised. That Shakespeare wrote any part, though Theobald declares it incontestible, I see no reason for believing.
The testimony produced at the beginning of this play, by which it is ascribed to Shakespeare, is by no means equal to the argument against its authenticity, arising from the total difference of conduct, language, and sentiments, by which it stands apart from all the rest. Meeres had probably no other evidence than that of a title-page, which, though in our time it be sufficient, was then of no great authority; for all the plays which were rejected by the first collectors of Shakespeare’s works, and admitted in later editions, and again rejected by the critical editors, had Shakespeare’s name on the title, as we must suppose, by the fraudulence of the printers, who, while there were yet no gazettes, nor advertisements, nor any means of circulating literary intelligence, could usurp at pleasure any celebrated name. Nor had Shakespeare any interest in detecting the imposture, as none of his fame or profit was produced by the press.
The chronology of this play does not prove it not to be Shakespeare’s. If it had been written twenty-five years, in 1614, it might have been written when Shakespeare was twenty-five years old. When he left Warwickshire I know not, but at the age of twenty-five it was rather too late to fly for deer-stealing.
Ravenscroft, who in the reign of Charles II, revised this play, and restored it to the stage, tells us, in his preface, from a theatrical tradition, I suppose, which in his time might be of sufficient authority, that this play was touched in different parts by Shakespeare, but written by some other poet. I do not find Shakespeare’s touches very discernible, (see 1765, VI, 364) (rev. 1778, VIII, 559)
TROILUS AND CRESSIDA
And hither am I come
A prologue arm’d; but not in confidence
Of author’s pen, or actor’s voice; but suited
In like conditions as our argument]
I come here to speak the prologue, and come in armour; not defying the audience, in confidence of either the author’s or actor’s abilities, but merely in a character suited to the subject, in a dress of war, before a warlike play.
I.i.12 (8,3) And skill-less as unpractis’d infancy] Mr. Dryden, in his alteration of this play, has taken this speech as it stands, except that he has changed skill-less to artless, not for the better, because skill-less refers to skill and skilful.
I.i.58 (10,4) The cignet’s down is harsh, and spirit of sense/Hard as the palm of ploughman!] In comparison with Cressid’s hand, says he, the spirit of sense, the utmost degree, the most exquisite power of sensibility, which implies a soft hand, since the sense of touching, as Scaliger says in his Exercitations, resides chiefly in the fingers, is hard as the callous and insensible palm of the ploughman. WARBURTON reads,
—SPITE of sense:
—to th’ spirit of sense.
It is not proper to make a lover profess to praise his mistress in spite of sense; for though he often does it in spite of the sense of others, his own senses are subdued to his desires.
I.i.66 (10,5) if she be fair, ’tis the better for her; an she be not, she has the mends in her own hands] She may mend her complexion by the assistance of cosmeticks.
I.ii.4 (12,1) Hector, whose patience/Is, as a virtue, fix’d] [W: Is as the] I think the present text may stand. Hector’s patience was as a virtue, not variable and accidental, but fixed and constant. If I would alter it, it should be thus:
—Hector, whose patience
Is ALL a virtue fix’d,—
All, in old English, is the intensive or enforcing particle.
I.ii.8 (13,2) Before the sun rose, he was harness’d light] [Warburton stated that “harnessed light” meant Hector was to fight on foot] How does it appear that Hector was to fight on foot rather to-day than on any other day? It is to be remembered, that the ancient heroes never fought on horseback; nor does their manner of fighting in chariots seem to require less activity than on foot.
I.ii.23 (14,4) his valour is crushed into folly] To be crushed into folly, is to be confused and mingled with folly, so as that they make one mass together.
I.ii.46 (15,6) Ilium] Was the palace of Troy.
I.ii.120 (17,7) compass-window] The compass-window is the same as the bow-window. (1773)
Cre. Will he give you the nod?
Pan. You shall see.
Cre. If he do, the rich shall have more]
[W: rich] I wonder why the commentator should think any emendation necessary, since his own sense is fully expressed by the present reading. Hanmer appears not to have understood the passage. That to give the nod signifies to set a mark of folly, I do not know; the allusion is to the word noddy, which, as now, did, in our author’s time, and long before, signify, a silly fellow, and may, by its etymology, signify likewise full of nods. Cressid means, that a noddy shall have more nods. Of such remarks as these is a comment to consist?
I.ii.260 (22,3) money to boot] So the folio. The old quarto, with more force, Give an eye to boot. (rev. 1778, IX, 25, 1)
I.ii.285 (22,4) upon my wit to defend my wiles] So read both the copies) yet perhaps the author wrote,
Upon my wit to defend my will.
The terms wit and will were, in the language of that time, put often in opposition.
I.ii.300 (23,5) At your own house; there he unarms him] [These necessary words added from the quarto edition. POPE.] The words added are only, there he unarms him.
I.ii.313 (23,6) joy’s soul lies in the doing] So read both the old editions, for which the later editions have poorly given,
—the soul’s joy lies in doing.
I.ii.316 (23,7) That she] Means, that woman.
I.iii.31 (25,2) With due observance of thy godlike seat] [T: godlike seat] This emendation [for goodly seat] Theobald might have found in the quarto, which has,
—the godlike seat.
I.iii.32 (25,3) Nestor shall apply/Thy latest words] Nestor applies the words to another instance.
I.iii.54 (26,7) Returns to chiding fortune] For returns, Hanmer reads replies, unnecessarily, the sense being the same. The folio and quarto have retires, corruptly.
both your speeches; which are such,
As Agamemnon and the hand of Greece
Should hold up high in brass; and such again,
As venerable Nestor, hatch’d in silver,
Should with a bond of air (strong as the axle-tree
On which heaven rides) 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 shew 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 gentleness. We call a soft voice a silver voice, and a persuasive tongue a silver tongue.—I once read for hand, the bandof Greece, but I think the text right.—To hatch is a term of art for a particular method of engraving. Hatcher, to cut, Fr.
I.iii.78 (28,1) The specialty of rule] The particular rights of supreme authority.
I.iii.81 (29,2) When that the general is not like the hive] The meaning is, When the general is not to the army like the hive to the bees, the repository of the stock of every individual, that to which each particular resorts with whatever be has collected for the good of the whole, what honey is expected? what hope of advantage? The sense is clear, the expression is confused.
I.iii.101 (30,5) Oh, when degree is shak’d] I would read,
—So when degree is shak’d. (see 1765, VII, 431, 5)
I.iii.103 (30,6) The enterprize] Perhaps we should read,
Then enterprize is sick!—
I.iii.104 (30,7) brotherhoods in cities] Corporations, companies, confraternities.
I.iii.128 (31,8) That by a pace goes backward] That goes backward step by step.
I.iii.128 (31,9) with a purpose/It hath to climb] With a design in each man to aggrandize himself, by slighting his immediate superior.
I.iii.134 (31,1) bloodless emulation] An emulation not vigorous and active, but malignant and sluggish.
I.iii.152 (31,2) Thy topless deputation] Topless is that has nothing topping or overtopping it; supreme; sovereign.
I.iii.167 (32,3) as near as the extremest ends/Of parallels] The parallels to which the allusion seems to be made are the parallels on a map. As like as East to West.
All our abilities, gifts, natures, shapes,
Severals and generals of grace exact,
The meaning is this, All our good grace exact, means of excellence irreprehensible.
I.iii.184 (32,5) to make paradoxes] Paradoxes may have a meaning, but it is not clear and distinct. I wish the copies had given,
—to make parodies.
I.iii.188 (33,6) bears his head/In such a rein] That is, holds up his head as haughtily. We still say of a girl, she bridles.
I.iii.196 (33,7) How rank soever rounded in with danger] A rank weed is a high weed. The modern editions silently read,
How hard soever—
I.iii.202 (33,8) and know by measure/Of their observant toil the enemies’ weight] I think it were better to read,
—and know the measure,
By their observant toil, of th’ enemies’ weight.
I.iii.220 (34,1) Achilles’ arm] So the copies. Perhaps the author wrote,
I.iii.262 (35,4) long continu’d truce] Of this long truce there has been no notice taken; in this very act it is said, that Ajax coped Hector yesterday in the battle.
I.iii.270 (36,7) (With truant vows to her own lips he loves)] That is, confession made with idle vows to the lips of her whom he loves.
I.iii.319 (37,1) nursery] Alluding to a plantation called a nursery.
I.iii.341 (38,4) scantling] That is, a measure, proportion. The carpenter cuts his wood to a certain scantling.
I.iii.343 (38,5) small pricks] Small points compared with the volumes.
II.i (40,1) The Grecian camp. Enter Ajax and Thorsites] ACT II.] This play is not divided into acts in any of the original editions.
II.i.13 (41,2) The plague of Greece] Alluding perhaps to the plague sent by Apollo on the Grecian army.
II.i.15 (41,3) Speak then, thou unsalted leaven, speak] [T: unwinnow’dst] [W: windyest] Hanmer preserves whinid’st, the reading of the folio; but does not explain it, nor do I understand it. If the folio be followed, I read, vinew’d, that is mouldy leven. Thou composition of mustiness and sourness.—Theobald’s assertion, however confident, is false. Unsalted leaven is in the old quarto. It means sour without salt, malignity without wit. Shakespeare wrote first unsalted; but recollecting that want of saltwas no fault in leaven, changed it to vinew’d.
II.i.38 (42,5) aye that thou bark’st at him] I read, O that thou bark’dst at him.
II.i.42 (42,6) pun thee into shivers] Pun is in the midland counties the vulgar and colloquial word for pound. (1773)
II.i.125 (45,1) when Achilles’ brach bids me] The folio and quarto read, Achilles’ brooch. Brooch is an appendant ornament. The meaning may be, equivalent to one of Achilles’ hangers on.
II.ii.29 (47,2) The past-proportion of his infinite?] Thus read both the copies. The meaning is, that greatness, to which no measure bears any proportion. The modern editors silently give,
The vast proportion—
II.ii.58 (48,4) And the will dotes that is inclinable] [Old edition, not so well, has it, attributive. POPE.] By the old edition Mr. Pope means the old quarto. The folio has, as it stands, inclinable.—I think the first reading better; the will dotes that attributes or gives the qualities which it affects; that first causes excellence, and then admires it.
II.ii.60 (48,5) Without some image of the affected merit] The present reading is right. The will affects an object for some supposed merit, which Hector says, is uncensurable, unless the merit so affected be really there.
II.ii.71 (48,7) unrespective sieve] That is, into a common voider. Sieve is in the quarto. The folio reads,
for which the modern editions have silently printed,
why do you now
The issue of your proper wisdoms rate;
And do a deed that fortune never did,
Beggar that estimation which you priz’d
Richer than sea and land?]
If I understand this passage, the meaning is, “Why do you, by censuring the determination of your own wisdoms, degrade Helen, whom fortune has not yet deprived of her value, or against whom, as the wife of Paris, fortune has not in this war so declared, as to make us value her less?” This is very harsh, and much strained.
II.ii.122 (50,2) her brain-sick raptures/Cannot distaste the goodness of a quarrel] Corrupt; change to a worse state.
II.ii.179 (52,3) benummed wills] That is, inflexible, inmoveable, no longer obedient to superior direction.
II.ii.180 (52,4) There is a law in each well-ordered nation] What the law does in every nation between individuals, justice ought to do between nations.
II.ii.188 (52,5) Hector’s opinion/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.
II.ii.196 (53,6) the performance of our heaving spleens] The execution of spite and resentment.
II.ii.212 (53,7) emulation] That is, envy, factious contention.
II.iii.18 (54,8) without drawing the massy iron and cutting the web] That is, without drawing their swords to cut the web. They use no means but those of violence.
II.iii.55 (55,1) decline the whole question] Deduce the question from the first case to the last.
II.iii.108 (57,6) but it was a strong composure, a fool could disunite] So reads the quarto very properly; but the folio, which the moderns have followed, has, it was a strong COUNSEL.
II.iii.118 (57,7) noble state] Person of high dignity; spoken of Agamemnon.
II.iii.137 (58,8) under-write] To subscribe, in Shakespeare, is to obey.
II.iii.215 (60,2) pheese his pride] To pheese is to comb or curry.
II.iii.217 (60,3) Not for the worth that hangs upon our quarrel] Not for the value of all for which we are fighting.
Ajax. Shall I call you father?
Nest. Ay, my good son]
In the folio and in the nodern editions Ajax desires to give the title of father to Ulysses; in the quarto, more naturally, to Nestor.
III.i.35 (64,1) love’s invisible soul] love’s visible soul.] So HANMER. The other editions have invisible, which perhaps may be right, and may mean the soul of love invisible every where else.
III.i.83 (65,3) And, my lord, he desires you] Here I think the speech of Pandarus should begin, and the rest of it should be added to that of Helen, but I have followed the copies.
III.i.96 (65,4) with my disposer Cressida] [W: dispouser] I do not understand the word disposer, nor know what to substitute in its place. There is no variation in the copies.
III.i.132 (67,6) Yet that which seems the wound to kill] To kill the wound is no very intelligible expression, nor is the measure preserved. We might read,
These lovers cry,
Oh! oh! they die!
But that which seems to kill,
Doth turn, &c.
So dying love lives still.
Yet as the wound to kill may mean the wound that seems mortal, I alter nothing.
III.ii.25 (69,1) tun’d too sharp in sweetness]—and too sharp in sweetness,] So the folio and all modern editions; but the quarto more accurately,
—tun’d too sharp in sweetness.
III.ii.99 (71,4) our head shall go bare, ’till merit crown it] I cannot forbear to observe, that the quarto reads thus: Our head shall go bare, ’till merit lower part no affection, in reversion, &c. Had there been no other copy, hov could this have been corrected? The true reading is in the folio.
III.ii.102 (72,5) his addition shall be humble] We will give him no high or pompous titles.
but you are wise,
Or else you love not; to be wise and love,
Exceeds man’s might]
—but we’re not wise,
Or else we love not; to be wise and love,
Exceeds man’s might;—
Cressida, in return to the praise given by Troilus to her wisdom, replies, “That lovers are never wise; that it is beyond the power of man to bring love and wisdom to an union.”
III.ii.173 (74,8) Might be affronted with the match] I wish “my integrity might be met and matched with such equality and force of pure unmingled love.”
III.ii.184 (75,2) As true as steel, as plantage to the moon] Plantage is not, I believe, a general term, but the herb which we now call plantain, in Latin, plantago, which was, I suppose, imagined to be under the peculiar influence of the moon.
Yet after all comparisons of truth,
As truth’s authentic author to be cited
As true as Troilus, shall crown up the verse]
Troilus shall crown the verse, as a man to be cited as the authentic author of truth; as one whose protestations were true to a proverb.
III.iii.1-16 (77,5) Now, princes, for the service I have done you] I am afraid, that after all the learned commentator’s [Warburton’s] efforts to clear the argument of Calchas, it will still appear liable to objection; nor do I discover more to be urged in his defence, than that though his skill in divination determined him to leave Troy, jet that he joined himself to Agamemnon and his army by unconstrained good-will; and though he came as a fugitive escaping from destruction, yet his services after his reception, being voluntary and important, deserved reward. This argument is not regularly and distinctly deduced, but this is, I think, the best explication that it will yet admit.
III.iii.4 (78,6) through the sight I bear in things, to Jove] This passage in all the modern editions is silently depraved, and printed thus:
—through the sight I bear in things to come.
The word is so printed that nothing but the sense can determine whether it be love or Jove. I believe that the editors read it as love, and therefore made the alteration to obtain some meaning.
he shall buy my daughter; and her presence
Shall quite strike off all service I have done,
In most accepted pain]
Sir T. HANMER, and Dr. WARBURTON after him, read,
In most accepted pay.
They do not seem to understand the construction of the passage. Her presence, says Calchas, shall strike off, or recompence the service I have done, even in these labours which were most accepted.
III.iii.44 (80,8) derision med’cinable] All the modern editions have decision. The old copies are apparently right. The folio in this place agrees with the quarto, so that the corruption was at first merely accidental.
III.iii.96 (82,9) how dearly ever parted] I do not think that in the word parted is included any idea of division; it means, however excellently endowed, with however dear or precious parts enriched or adorned.
III.iii.113 (82,2) but the author’s drift:/Who, in his circumstance] In the detail or circumduction of his argument.
III.iii.125 (83,3) The unknovn Ajax] Ajax, who has abilities which were never brought into view or use.
How some men creep in skittish Fortune’s hall,
While others play the idiots in her eyes!]
To creep is to keep out of sight from whatever motive. Some men keep out of notice in the hall of Fortune, while others, though they but play the idiot, are always in her eye, in the way of distinction.
III.iii.137 (83,5) feasting] Folio. The quarto has fasting. Either word may bear a good sense.
III.iii.145 (84,6) Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back] This speech is printed in all the modern editions with such deviations from the old copy, as exceed the lawful power of an editor.
III.iii.171 (85,2) for beauty, wit,/High birth, vigour of bone, desert in service] The modern editors read,
For beauty, wit, high birth, desert in service, &c.
I do not deny but the changes produce a more easy lapse of numbers, but they do not exhibit the work of Shakespeare, (see 1765, VII, 435, 2)
And shew to dust, that is a little gilt,
More laud than gilt o’er-dusted]
[T: give to … laud than they will give to gold] This emendation has been received by the succeeding editors, but recedes too far from the copy. There is no other corruption than such as Shakespeare’s incorrectness often resembles. He has omitted the article to in the second line: he should have written,
More laud than to gilt o’er-dusted. (1773) (rev. 1778, IX, 93, 7)
III.iii.189 (86,4) Made emulous missions] The meaning of mission seems to be dispatches of the gods from heaven about mortal business, such as often happened at the siege of Troy.
III.iii.197 (86,5) Knows almost every grain of Pluto’s gold] For this elegant line the quarto has only,
Knows almost every thing.
III.iii.201 (86,7) (with which relation/Durst never meddle)] There is a secret administration of affairs, which no history was ever able to discover.
Omission to do what is necessary
Seals a commission to a blank of danger]
By neglecting our duty we commission or enable that danger of dishonour, which could not reach us before, to lay hold upon us.
III.iii.254 (88,1) with a politic regard] With a sly look.
IV.i.11 (91,1) During all question of the gentle truce] I once thought to read,
During all quiet of the gentle truce.
But I think question means intercourse, interchange of conversation.
IV.i.36 (92,4) His purpose meets you] I bring you his meaning and his orders.
Both merits pois’d, each weighs no less nor more,
But he as he, the heavier for a whore]
But he as he, each heavier for a whore.
Heavy is taken both for weighty, and for sad or miserable. The quarto reads,
But he as he, the heavier for a whore.
I know not whether the thought is not that of a wager. It must then be read thus:
But he as he. Which heavier for a whore?
That is, for a whore staked down, which is the heavier.
IV.i.78 (94,7) We’ll not commend what we intend to sell] I believe the meaning is only this: though you practise the buyer’s art, we will not practise the seller’s. We intend to sell Helen dear, yet will not commend her.
IV.ii.62 (96,4) My matter is so rash] My business is so hasty and so abrupt.
IV.ii.74 (97,6) the secrets of neighbour Pandar] [Pope had emended the Folio’s “secrets of nature” to the present reading] Mr. Pope’s reading is in the old quarto. So great is the necessity of collation.
IV.iv.3 (99,1) The grief] The folio reads,
The grief is fine, full perfect, that I taste,
And no less in a sense as strong
As that which causeth it.—
The quarto otherwise,
The grief is fine, full, perfect, that I taste,
And violenteth in a sense as strong
As that which causeth it.—
Violenteth is a word with which I am not acquainted, yet perhaps it may be right. The reading of the text is without authority.
IV.iv.65 (101,3) For I will throw my glove to death] That is, I will challenge death himself in defence of thy fidelity.
While others fish, with craft, for great opinion,
I, with great truth, catch mere simplicity.]
The meaning, I think, is, while others, by their art, gain high estimation, I, by honesty, obtain a plain simple approbation.
IV.iv.109 (103,6) the moral of my wit/Is, plain and true] That is, the governing principle of my understanding; but I rather think we should read,
—the motto of my wit
Is, plain and true,—
IV.iv.114 (103,7) possess thee what she is] I will make thee fully understand. This sense of the word possess is frequent in our author.
IV.iv.134 (104,9) I’ll answer to my list] This, I think, is right, though both the old copies read lust.
IV.v.8 (105,1) bias cheek] Swelling out like the bias of a bowl.
IV.v.37 (106,3) I’ll make my match to live./The kiss you take is better than you give] I will make such bargains as I may live by, such as may bring me profit, therefore will not take a worse kiss than I give.
IV.v.48 (107,4) Why, beg then] For the sake of rhime we should read,
Why beg two.
If you think kisses worth begging, beg more than one.
IV.v.52 (107,5) Never’s my day, and then a kiss of you] I once gave both these lines to Cressida. She bids Ulysses beg a kiss; he asks that he may have it,
When Helen is a maid again—
She tells him that then he shall have it:
When Helen is a maid again—
Cre. I am your debtor, claim it when ’tis due;
Never’s my day, and then a kiss for you.
But I rather think that Ulysses means to slight her, and that the present reading is right.
IV.v.57 (107,6) motive of her body] Motive for part that contributes to motion.
IV.v.59 (107,7) a coasting] An amorous address; courtship.
IV.v.62 (107,8) sluttish spoils of opportunity] Corrupt wenches, of whose chastity every opportunity may make a prey.
IV.v.73 (108,9) Aga. ‘Tis done like Hector, but securely done] [Theobald gave the speech to Achilles] As the old copies agree, I have made no change.
IV.v.79 (108,1) Valour and pride excel themselves in Hector] Shakespeare’s thought is not exactly deduced. Nicety of expression is not his character. The cleaning is plain, “Valour (says AEneas) is in Hector greater than valour in other men, and pride in Hector is less than pride in other men. So that Hector is distinguished by the excellence of having pride less than other pride, and valour more than other valour.”
IV.v.103 (109,2) an impair thought] A thought suitable to the dignity of his character. This word I should have changed to impure, were I not over-powered by the unanimity of the editors, and concurrence of the old copies, (rev. 1778, IX, 120, 8)
IV.v.105 (109,3) Hector in his blaze of wrath subscribes/To tender objects] That is, yields, gives way.
IV.v.112 (110,4) thus translate him to me] Thus explain his character.
IV.v.142 (111,5) Hect. Not Neoptolemus so mirable] [W: Neoptolemus’s sire irascible] After all this contention it is difficult to imagine that the critic believes mirable to have been changed to irascible. I should sooner read,
Not Neoptolemus th’ admirable;
as I know not whether mirable can be found in any other place. The correction which the learned commentator gave to Hanmer,
Not Neoptolemus’ sire so mirable,
as it was modester than this, was preferable to it. But nothing is more remote from justness of sentiment, than for Hector to characterise Achilles as the father of Neoptolemus, a youth that had not yet appeared in arms, and whose name was therefore much less knovn than his father’s. My opinion is, that by Neoptolemus the author meant Achilles himself; and remembering that the son was Pyrrhus Neoptolemus, considered Neoptolemus as the nomen gentilitium, and thought the father was likewise Achilles Neoptolemus.
IV.v.147 (112,6) We’ll answer it] That is, answer the expectance.
IV.v.275 (117,5) Beat loud the tabourines] For this the quarto and the latter editions have,
To taste your bounties.—
The reading which I have given from the folio seems chosen at the revision, to avoid the repetition of the word bounties.
V.i.5 (118,1) Thou crusty batch of nature] Batch is changed by Theobald to botch, and the change is justified by a pompous note, which discovers that he did not know the word batch. What is more strange, Hanmer has followed him. Batch is any thingbaked.
V.i.19 (119,3) Male-varlet] HANMER reads male-harlot, plausibly enough, except that it seems too plain to require the explanation which Patroclus demands.
V.i.23 (119,4) cold palsies] This catalogue of loathsome maladies ends in the folio at cold palsies. This passage, as it stands, is in the quarto: the retrenchment was in my opinion judicious. It may be remarked, though it proves nothing, that, of the few alterations made by Milton in the second edition of his wonderful poem, one was, an enlargement of the enumeration of diseases.
V.i.32 (119,5) you ruinous butt; you whoreson indistinguishable cur] Patroclos reproaches Thersites with deformity, with having one part crowded into another.
V.i.35 (119,6) thou idle immaterial skeyn of sley’d silk] All the terms used by Thersites of Patroclus, are emblematically expressive of flexibility, compliance, and mean officiousness.
V.i.40 (119,7) Out, gall!] HANMER reads nut-gall, which answers well enough to finch-egg; it has already appeared, that our author thought the nut-gall the bitter gall. He is called nut, from the conglobation of his form; but both the copies read, Out, gall!
V.i.41 (120,8) Finch egg!] Of this reproach I do not know the exact meaning. I suppose he means to call him singing bird, as implying an useless favourite, and yet more, something more worthless, a singing bird in the egg, or generally, a slight thing easily crushed.
V.i.64 (121,2) forced with wit] Stuffed with wit. A term of cookery.—In this speech I do not well understand what is meant by loving quails.
V.i.73 (121,3) spirits and fires!] This Thersites speaks upon the first sight of the distant lights.
V.ii.11 (124,1) And any man may sing her, if he can take her cliff] That is, her key. Clef, French.
V.ii.41 (125,2) You flow to great distraction] So the moderns. The folio has,
You flow to great distraction.—
You flow to great destruction.—
You show too great distraction.—
V.ii.108 (128,7) But with my heart the other eye doth see] I think it should be read thus,
But my heart with the other eye doth see.
V.ii.113 (128,8) A proof of strength she could not publish more] She could not publish a stronger proof.
V.ii.125 (129,1) I cannot conjure, Trojan] That is, I cannot raise spirits in the form of Cressida.
V.ii.141 (129,2) If there be rule in unity itself] I do not well understand what is meant by rule in unity. By rule our author, in this place as in others, intends virtuous restraint, regularity of manners, command of passions and appetites. In Macbeth,
He cannot buckle his distemper’d cause
Within the belt of rule.—
But I know not how to apply the word in this sense to unity. I read,
If there be rule in purity itself,
Or, If there be rule in verity itself.
Such alterations would not offend the reader, who saw the state of the old editions, in which, for instance, a few lines lower, the almighty sun is called the almighty fenne.—Yet the words may at last mean, If there be certainty in unity, if it be a rulethat one is one.
V.ii.144 (130,3) Bi-fold authority!] This is the reading of the quarto. The folio gives us,
By foul authority!—
There is madness in that disquisition in which a man reasons at once for and against himself upon authority which he knows not to be valid. The quarto is right.
where reason can revolt
Without perdition, and loss assume all reason
The words loss and perdition are used in their common sense, but they mean the loss or perdition of reason.
V.ii.157 (131,6) And with another knot five-finger-tied] A knot tied by giving her hand to Diomed.
V.ii.160 (131,7) o’er-eaten faith] Vows which she has already swallowed once over. We still say of a faithless man, that he has eaten his words.
Ulyss. May worthy Troilus be half attach’d
With that which here his passion doth express!]
Can Troilus really feel on this occasion half of what he utters? A question suitable to the calm Ulysses.
For us to count we give what’s gain’d by thefts,
And rob in the behalf of charity]
This is so oddly confused in the folio, that I transcribe it as a specimen of incorrectness:
—do not count it holy,
To hurt by being just; it were as lawful
For we would count give much to as violent thefts,
And rob in the behalf of charity.
Cas. It is the purpose that makes strong the vow;
But vows to every purpose must not hold]
The mad prophetess speaks here with all the coolness and judgment of a skilful casuist. “The essence of a lawful vow, is a lawful purpose, and the vow of which the end is wrong must not be regarded as cogent.”
Life every man holds dear; but the dear man
Holds honour far more precious dear than life]
Valuable man. The modern editions read,
The repetition of the word is in our author’s manner.
Brother, you have a vice of mercy in you,
Which better fits a lion, than a man]
The traditions and stories of the darker ages abounded with examples of the lion’s generosity. Upon the supposition that these acts of clemency were true, Troilus reasons not improperly, that to spare against reason, by mere instinct of pity, became rather a generous beast than a wise man.
V.x.33 (137,9) Hence, broker lacquey!] For brothel, the folio reads brother, erroneously for broker, as it stands at the end of the play where the lines are repeated. Of brother the following editors made brothel.
V.iv.18 (138,2) the Grecians begin to proclaim barbarism, and policy grows into an ill opinion] To set up the authority of ignorance to declare that they will be governed by policy no longer.
V.vi.11 (142,1) you cogging Greeks] This epithet has no particular propriety in this place, but the author had heard of Graecia Mendax.
V.vi.29 (144,3) I’ll frush it] The word frush I never found elsewhere, nor understand it. HANMER explains it, to break or bruise.
V.viii.7 (146,1) Even with the vail and darkening of the sun] The vail is, I think, the sinking of the sun; not veil or cover.
(149) General Observation. This play is more correctly written than most of Shakespeare’s compositions, but it is not one of those in which either the extent of his views or elevation of his fancy is fully displayed. As the story abounded with materials, he has exerted little invention; but he has diversified his characters with great variety, and preserved them with great exactness. His vicious characters sometimes disgust, but cannot corrupt, for both Cressida and Pandarus are detested and contemned. The comic characters seem to have been the favourites of the writer; they are of the superficial kind, and exhibit more of manners than nature; but they are copiously filled and powerfully impressed. Shakespeare has in his story followed, for the greater part, the old book of Caxton, which was then very popular; but the character of Thersites, of which it makes no mention, is a proof that this play was written after Chapman had published his version of Homer.
You do not meet a man, but frowns: our bloods
No more obey the heavens, than our courtiers’
Still seen, as does the king’s]
[W: brows/No more] This passage is so difficult, that commentators may differ concerning it without animosity or shame. Of the two emendations proposed, Hanmer’s is the more licentious; but he makes the sense clear, and leaves the reader an easy passage. Dr. Warburton has corrected with more caution, but less improvement: his reasoning upon his own reading is so obscure and perplexed, that I suspect some injury of the press.—I am now to tell my opinion, which is, that the lines stand as they were originally written, and that a paraphrase, such as the licentious and abrupt expressions of our author too frequently require, will make emendation unnecessary. We do not meet a man but frowns; our bloods—our countenances, which, in popular speech, are said to be regulated by the temper of the blood,—no more obey the laws of heaven,—which direct us to appear what we really are,—than our courtiers;—that is, than the bloods of our courtiers; but our bloods, like theirs,—still seem, as doth the king’s.
I.i.25 (155,3) I do extend him, Sir, within himself] I extend him within himself: my praise, however extensive, is within his merit.
I.i.46 (156,4) liv’d in court,/(Which rare it is to do) most prais’d, most lov’d] This encomium is high and artful. To be at once in any great degree loved and praised is truly rare.
I.i.49 (156,5) A glass that feated them] A glass that featur’d them] Such is the reading in all the modern editions, I know not by whom first substituted, for
A glass that feared them;—
I have displaced featur’d, though it can plead long prescription, because I am inclined to think that feared has the better title. Mirrour was a favourite word in that age for an example, or a pattern, by noting which the manners were to be formed, as dress is regulated by looking in a glass. When Don Bellianis is stiled The Mirrour of Knighthood, the idea given is not that of a glass in which every knight may behold his own resemblance, but an example to be viewed by knights as often as a glass is looked upon by girls, to be viewed, that they may know, not what they are, but what they ought to be. Such a glass may fear the more mature, as displaying excellencies which they have arrived at maturity without attaining. To fear is here, as in other places, to fright. [I believe Dr. Johnson is mistaken as to the reading of the folio, which is feated. The page of the copy which he consulted is very faintly printed; but I have seen another since, which plainly gives this reading. STEEVENS.] If feated be the right word, it must, I think, be explained thus; a glass that formed them; a model, by the contemplation and inspection of which they formed their manners. (see 1765, VII, 260, 4)
I something fear my father’s wrath; but nothing
(Always reserv’d my holy duty) what
His rage can do on me]
I say I do not fear my father, so far as I may say it without breach of duty.
I.i.101 (158,2) Though ink be made of gall] Shakespeare, even in this poor conceit, has confounded the vegetable galls used in ink, with the animal gall, supposed to be bitter.
I.i.132 (160,4) then heapest/A year’s age on me] Dr. WARBURTON reads,
A yare age on me.
It seems to me, even from SKINNER, whom he cites, that yare is used only as a personal quality. Nor is the authority of Skinner sufficient, without some example, to justify the alteration. HANMER’s reading is better, but rather too far from the original copy:
—thou heapest many
A year’s age on me.
Years, ages on me.
I.i.135 (160,5) a touch more rare/Subdues all pangs, all fears] Rare is used often for eminently good; but I do not remember any passage in which it stands for eminently bad. May we read,
—a touch more near.
Cura deam propior luctusque domesticus angit. Ovid.
Shall we try again,
—a touch more rear.
Crudum vulnus. But of this I know not any example. There is yet another interpretation, which perhaps will remove the difficulty. A touch more rare, may mean a nobler passion.
I.i.140 (161,6) a puttock] A kite.
I.ii.31 (163,1) her beauty and her brain go not together] I believe the lord means to speak a sentence, “Sir, as I told you always, beauty and brain go not together.”
I.ii.32 (164,2) She’s a good sign] [W: shine] There is acuteness enough in this note, yet I believe the poet meant nothing by sign, but fair outward shew.
for so long
As he could make me with this eye, or ear,
Distinguish him from others]
[W: this eye] Sir T. HANMER alters it thus:
—for so long
As he could mark me with his eye, or I
The reason of Hanmer’s reading was, that Pisanio describes no address made to the ear.
I.iii.18 (165,3) till the diminution/Of space had pointed him sharp as my needle] The diminution of space, is the diminution of which space is the cause. Trees are killed by a blast of lightning, that is, by blasting, not blasted lightning.
I.iii.24 (166,4) next vantage] Next opportunity.
I.iii.37 (166,6) Shakes all our buds from growing] A bud, without any distinct idea, whether of flower or fruit, is a natural representation of any thing incipient or immature; and the buds of flowers, if flowers are meant, grow to flowers, as the buds of fruitsgrow to fruits.
I.iv.9 (167,1) makes him] In the sense in which we say, This will make or mar you.
I.iv.16 (167,2) words him, I doubt not, a great deal from the matter] Makes the description of him very distant from the truth.
I.iv.20 (167,3) under her colours] Under her banner; by her influence.
I.iv.47 (168,6) I was then a young traveller; rather shunn’d to go even with what I heard, than in my every action to be guided by others’ experiences] This is expressed with a kind of fantastical perplexity. He means, I was then willing to take for my direction the experience of others, more than such intelligence as I had gathered myself.
I.iv,58 (169,7) ‘Twas a contention in publick, which may, without contradiction, suffer the report] Which, undoubtedly, may be publickly told.
I.iv.73 (169,8) tho’ I profess myself her adorer, not her friend] Though I have not the common obligations of a lover to his mistress, and regard her not with the fondness of a friend, but the reverence of an adorer.
I.iv.77 (169,9) If she went before others I have seen, as that diamond of yours out-lustres many I have beheld, I could not believe she excelled many] [W: could believe] I should explain the sentence thus: “Though your lady excelled, as much as your diamond, I could not believe she excelled many; that is, I too could yet believe that there are many whom she did not excel.” But I yet think Dr. Warburton right. (1773)
I.iv.104 (171,l) to convince the honour of my mistress] [Convince, for overcome. WARBURTON.] So in Macbeth,
—their malady convinces
“The great essay of art.”
I.iv.124 (171,2) abus’d] Deceiv’d.
I.iv.134 (172,3) approbation] Proof.
I.iv.148 (172,4) You are a friend, and therein the wiser. If you buy ladies’ flesh at a million a dram, you cannot preserve it from tainting. But, I see, you have some religion in you, that you fear] You are a friend to the lady, and therein the wiser, as you will not expose her to hazard; and that you fear, is a proof of your religious fidelity. (see 1765, VII, 276, 1)
I.iv.l60 (173,5) Iach. If I bring you no sufficient testimony that I have enjoy’d the dearest bodily part of your mistress, my ten thousand ducats are yours, so is my diamond too: if I come off, and leave her in such honour as you have trust in, she your jewel, this your jewel, and my gold are yours—
Post. I embrace these conditions]
[W: bring you sufficient] I once thought this emendation right, but am now of opinion, that Shakespeare intended that Iachimo, having gained his purpose, should designedly drop the invidious and offensive part of the wager, and to flatter Posthumus, dwell long upon the more pleasing part of the representation. One condition of a wager implies the other, and there is no need to mention both.
I.v.18 (176,1) Other conclusions] Other experiments. I commend, says WALTON, an angler that tries conclusions, and improves his art.
I.v.23 (175,2) Your highness/Shall from this practice but make hard your heart] Thare is in this passage nothing that much requires a note, yet I cannot forbear to push it forward into observation. The thought would probably have been more amplified, had our author lived to be shocked with such experiments as have been published in later times, by a race of men that have practised tortures without pity, and related then without shame, and are yet suffered to erect their heads among human beings.
“Cape saxa manu, cape robora, pastor.”
I.v.33-44 (175,3) I do not like her] This soliloquy is very inartificial. The speaker is under no strong pressure of thought; he is neither resolving, repenting, suspecting, nor deliberating, and yet makes a long speech to tell himself what himself knows.
I.v.54 (176,4) to shift his being] To change his abode.
I.v.58 (118,5) What shalt thou expect,/To be depender on a thing that leans?] That inclines towards its fall.
I.v.80 (177,7) Of leigers for her sweet] A leiger ambassador, is one that resides at a foreign court to promote his master’s interest.
Bless’d be those,
How mean soe’er, that have their honest wills,
Which seasons comfort]
I am willing to comply with any meaning that can be extorted from the present text, rather than change it, yet will propose, but with great diffidence, a slight alteration:
—Bless’d be those,
How mean soe’er, that have their honest wills,
Who gratify their innocent wishes with reasonable enjoyments.
I.vi.35 (180,2) and the twinn’d stones/Upon the number’d beach?] I know not well how to regulate this passage. Number’d is perhaps numerous. Twinn’d stones I do not understand. Twinn’d shells, or pairs of shells, are very common. For twinn’d, we might read twin’d; that is, twisted, convolved; but this sense is more applicable to shells than to stones.
Sluttery, to such neat excellence oppos’d,
Should make desire vomit emptiness,
Not so allur’d to feed]
[i.e. that appetite, which is not allured to feed on such excellence, can have no stomach at all; but, though empty, must nauseate every thing. WARB.] I explain this passage in a sense almost contrary. Iachimo, in this counterfeited rapture, has shewn how the eyes and the judgment would determine in favour of Imogen, comparing her with the present mistress of Posthumus, and proceeds to say, that appetite too would give the same suffrage. Desire, says he, when it approached sluttery, and considered it in comparison with such neat excellence, would not only be not so allured to feed, but, seized with a fit of loathing, would vomit emptiness, would feel the convulsions of disgust, though, being unfed, it had nothing to eject. [Tyrwhitt: vomit, emptiness … allure] This is not ill conceived; but I think my own explanation right. To vomit emptiness is, in the language of poetry, to feel the convulsions of eructation without plenitude. (1773)
I.vi.54 (182,4) He’s strange, and peevish] He is a foreigner, easily fretted.
I.vi.97 (184,5) timely knowing] Rather timely known.
I.vi.99 (184,6) What both you spur and stop] What it is that at once incites you to speak, and restrains you from it. [I think Imogen means to enquire what is that news, that intelligence, or information, you profess to bring, and yet with-hold: at least, I think Dr. JOHNSON’s explanation a mistaken one, for Imogen’s request supposes Iachimo an agent, not a patient. HAWKINS.] I think my explanation true. (see 1765, VII, 286, 7)
join gripes with hands
Made hard with hourly falshood (falshood as
With labour) then lye peeping in an eye]
The old edition reads,
—join gripes with hands
Made hard with hourly falshood (falshood as
With labour) then by peeping in an eye, &c.
—then lye peeping—
The author of the present regulation of the text I do not know, but have suffered it to stand, though not right. Hard with falshood is, hard by being often griped with frequent change of hands.
I.vi.122 (185,8) With tomboys, hir’d with that self-exhibition/Which your own coffers yield!] Gross strumpets, hired with the very pension which you allow your husband.
I.vi.152 (186,9) As in a Romish stew] The stews of Rome are deservedly censured by the reformed. This is one of many instances in which Shakespeare has mingled in the manners of distant ages in this play.
II.i.2 (188,1) kiss’d the jack upon an up-cast] He is describing his fate at bowls. The jack is the small bowl at which the others are aimed. He who is nearest to it wins. To kiss the jack is a state of great advantage. (1773)
II.i.15 (189,2) 2 Lord. No, my lord; nor crop the ears of them. [Aside.] This, I believe, should stand thus:
1 Lord. No, my lord.
2 Lord. Nor crop the ears of them, [Aside.
II.i.26 (189,3) you crow, cock, with your comb on] The allusion is to a fool’s cap, which hath a comb like a cock’s.
II.i.29 (189,4) every companion] The use of companion was the same as of fellow now. It was a word of contempt.
II.ii.12 (191,1) our Tarquin] The speaker is an Italian.
II.ii.13 (191,2) Did softly press the rushes] It was the custom in the time of our author to strew chambers with rushes, as we now cover them with carpets. The practice is mentioned in Caius de Ephemera Britannica.
II.iii.24 (194,2) His steeds to water at those springs On chalic’d flowers that lies]
Each chalic’d flower supplies;
to escape a false concord: but correctness must not be obtained by such licentious alterations. It may be noted, that the cup of a flower is called calix, whence chalice.
II.iii.28 (195,3) With, every thing that pretty bin] is very properly restored by Hanmer, for pretty is; but he too grammatically reads,
With all the things that pretty bin.
II.iii.102 (197,5) one of your great knowing/Should learn, being taught, forbearance] i.e. A man who is taught forbearance should learn it.
II.iii.111 (198,7) so verbal] Is, so verbose, so full of talk.
II.iii.118-129 (199,8) The contract you pretend with that base wretch] Here Shakespeare has not preserved, with his common nicety, the uniformity of character. The speech of Cloten is rough and harsh, but certainly not the talk of one,
Who can’t take two from twenty, for his heart,
And leave eighteen.—
His argument is just and well enforced, and its prevalence is allowed throughout all civil nations: as for rudeness, he seems not to be mach undermatched.
II.iii.124 (199,9) in self-figur’d knot] [This is nonsense. We should read,
WARBURTON.] But why nonsense? A self-figured knot is a knot formed by yourself. (see 1765, VII, 301, 8)
II.iv.71 (204,4) And Cydnus swell’d above the banks, or for/The press of boats, or pride] [This is an agreeable ridicule on poetical exaggeration, which gives human passions to inanimate things: and particularly, upon what he himself writes in the foregoing play on this very subject:
The water, which they beat, to follow faster,
As amorous of their strokes.”
WARBURTON.] It is easy to sit down and give our author meanings which he never had. Shakespeare has no great right to censure poetical exaggeration, of which no poet is more frequently guilty. That he intended to ridicule his own lines is very uncertain, when there are no means of knowing which of the two plays was written first. The commentator has contented himself to suppose, that the foregoing play in his book was the play of earlier composition. Nor is the reasoning better than the assertion. If the language of Iachimo be such as shews him to be mocking the credibility of his hearer, his language is very improper, when his business was to deceive. But the truth is, that his language is such as a skilful villain would naturally use, a mixture of airy triumph and serious deposition. His gaiety shews his seriousness to be without anxiety, and his seriousness proves his gaiety to be without art.
II.iv.83 (205,5) never saw I figures/So likely to report themselves] So near to speech. The Italians call a portrait, when the likeness is remarkable, a speaking picture.
II.iv.84 (205,6) the cutter/Was as another nature, dumb, out-went her;/Motion and breath left out] [W: done; out-went her.] This emendation I think needless. The meaning is this, The sculptor was as nature, but as nature dumb; he gave every thing that nature gives, but breath and motion. In breath is included speech.
II.iv.91 (205,7) Post. This is her honour!] [T: What’s this t’her honour?] This emendation has been followed by both the succeeding editors, but I think it must be rejected. The expression is ironical. Iachimo relates many particulars, to which Posthumus answers with impatience, This is her honour! That is, And the attainment of this knowledge is to pass for the corruption of her honour.
II.iv.95 (206,8) if you can/Be pale] If you can forbear to flush your cheek with rage.
The vows of women
Of no more bondage be, to where they are made,
Than they are to their virtues]
The love vowed by women no more abides with him to whom it is vowed, than women adhere to their virtue.
II.iv.127 (207,2) The cognizance] The badge; the token; the visible proof.
III.i.26 (211,2) and his shipping,/(Poor ignorant baubles!) on our terrible seas] [Ignorant, for of no use. WARB.] Rather, unacquainted with the nature of our boisterous seas.
III.i.51 (212,3) against all colour] Without any pretence of right.
III.i.73 (213,5) keep at utterance] [i.e. At extreme distance. WARB.] More properly, in a state of hostile defiance, and deadly opposition.
III.i.73 (213,6) I am perfect] I am well informed. So, in Macbeth, “—in your state of honour I am perfect.” (see 1765, VII, 314,7)
III.ii.4 (214,2) What false Italian (As poisonous tongu’d as handed)] About Shakespeare’s time the practice of poisoning was very common in Italy, and the suspicion of Italian poisons yet more common.
III.ii.9 (214,3) take in some virtue] To take in a town, is to conquer it.
III.ii.34 (215,6) For it doth physic love] That is, grief for absence, keeps love in health and vigour.
III.ii.47 (215,8) loyal to his vow, and your increasing in love] I read, Loyal to his vow and you, increasing in love.
III.ii.79 (216,1) A franklin’s housewife] A franklin is literally a freeholder, with a small estate, neither villain nor vassal.
I see before me, man, nor here, nor here,
Nor what ensues; but have a fog in them,
That I cannot look thro’]
This passage may, in my opinion, be very easily understood, without any emendation. The lady says, “I can see neither one way nor other, before me nor behind me, but all the ways are covered with an impenetrable fog.” There are objections insuperable to all that I can propose, and since reason can give me no counsel, I will resolve at once to follow my inclination.
III.iii.5 (218,2) giants may jet through/And keep their impious turbans on] The idea of a giant was, among the readers of romances, who were almost all the readers of those times, always confounded with that of a Saracen.
III.iii.16 (218,3) This service it not service, so being done,/But being so allow’d] In war it is not sufficient to do duty well; the advantage rises not from the act, but the acceptance of the act.
III.iii.23 (219,5) Richer, than doing nothing for a babe] I have always suspected that the right reading of this passage is what I had not in my former edition the confidence to propose: Richer, than doing nothing for a brabe.
Brabium is a badge of honour, or the ensign of an honour, or any thing worn as a mask of dignity. The word was strange to the editors as it will be to the reader: they therefore changed it to babe; and I am forced to propose it without the support of any authority. Brabium is a word found in Holyoak’s Dictionary, who terms it a reward. Cooper, in his Thesaurus, defines it to be a prize, or reward for any game. (1773) (rev. 1778, IX, 248, 8)
III.iii.35 (219,6) To stride a limit] To overpass his bound.
III.iii.35 (220,7) What should we speak of,/When we are as old as you?] This dread of an old age, unsupplied with matter for discourse and meditation, is a sentiment natural and noble. No state can be more destitute than that of him who, when the delights of sense forsake him, has no pleasures of the mind.
tho’ trained up thus meanly
I’ the cave, wherein they bow, their thoughts do hit
The roof of palaces]
[W: wherein they bow] HANMER reads,
I’ the cave, here in this brow.—
I think the reading is this:
I’ the cave, wherein the BOW, &c.
That is, they are trained up in the cave, where their thoughts in hitting the bow, or arch of their habitation, hit the roofs of palaces. In other words, though their condition is low, their thoughts are high. The sentence is at last, as THEOBALD remarks, abrupt, but perhaps no less suitable to Shakespeare. I know not whether Dr. WARBURTON’s conjecture be not better than mine.
III.iii.101 (223,2) I stole these babes] Shakespeare seems to intend Belarius for a good character, yet he makes him forget the injury which he has done to the young princes, whom he has robbed of a kingdom only to rob their father of heirs.—The latter part of this soliloquy is very inartificial, there being no particular reason why Belarius should now tell to himself what he could not know better by telling it.
III.iv.15 (224,2) drug-damn’d Italy] This is another allusion to Italian poisons.
III.iv.39 (225,4) Kings, queens, and states] Persons of highest rank.
III.iv.52 (225,6) Some jay of Italy,/Whose mother was her painting] Some jay of Italy, made by art the creature, not of nature, but of painting. In this sense painting may be not improperly termed her mother. (see 1765, VII, 325, 9)
III.iv.63 (226,7) So thou, Posthumus,/Wilt lay the leaven on all proper men] HANMER reads,
—lay the level—
without any necessity.
III.iv.97 (228,1) That now thou tir’st on] A hawk is said to tire upon that which he pecks; from tirer, French.
I’ll wake mine eye-balls blind first.
Imo. Wherefore then]
This is the old reading. The modern editions for wake read break, and supply the deficient syllable by ah, wherefore. I read, I’ll wake mine eye-balls out first, or, blind, first.
III.iv.111 (228,3) To be unbent] To have thy bow unbent, alluding to a hunter.
Now, if you could wear a mind
Dark as your fortune is, and but disguise
That, which, to appear itself, must not yet be,
But by self-danger]
To wear a dark mind, is to carry a mind impenetrable to the search of others. Darkness applied to the mind is secrecy, applied to the fortune is obscurity. The next lines are obscure. You must, says Pisanio, disguise that greatness, which, to appearhereafter in its proper form, cannot yet appear without great danger to itself. (see 1765, VII, 329, 6)
III.iv.149 (230,5) full of view] With opportunities of examining your affairs with your own eyes.
III.iv.155 (230,6) Though peril to my modesty, not death on’t,/I would adventure] I read,
I would for such means adventure through peril of my modesty; I would risque every thing but real dishonour.
nay, you must
Forget that rarest treasure of your cheek;
Exposing it (but, oh, the harder heart!
Alack, no remedy)]
I think it very natural to reflect in this distress on the cruelty of Posthumus. Dr. WARBURTON proposes to read,
—the harder hap!—
III.iv.177 (231,8) which you’ll make him know] This is HANMER’s reading. The common books have it,
—which will make him know.
Mr. THEOBALD, in one of bit long notes, endeavours to prove, that it should be,
—which will make him so.
He is followed by Dr. WARBURTON.
III.iv.184 (231,9) we’ll even/All that good time will give us] We’ll make our work even with our time; we’ll do what time will allow.
And that she hath all courtly parts more exquisite
Than lady, ladies, woman; from every one
The best she hath]
[The second line is intolerable nonsense. It should be read and pointed thus,
Than lady ladies; winning from each one.
I cannot perceive the second line to be intolerable, or to be nonsense. The speaker only rises in his ideas. She has all courtly parts, says he, more exquisite than any lady, than all ladies, than all womankind. Is this nonsense?
III.v.101 (236,3) Pia. Or this, or perish] These words, I think, belong to Cloten, who, requiring the paper, says,
Let’s see’t: I will pursue her
Even to Augustus’ throne. Or this, or perish.
Then Pisanio giving the paper, says to himself,
She’s far enough, &c.
III.vi.12 (239,1) To lapse in fullness/Is sorer, than to lye for need] Is a greater, or heavier crime.
III.vi.23 (239,3) If any thing that’s civil, speak; if savage,/Take, or lend] [W: Take ‘or ‘t end.] I suppose the emendation proposed will not easily be received; it is strained and obscure, and the objection against Hanmer’s reading is likewise very strong. I question whether, after the words, if savage, a line be not lost. I can offer nothing better than to read,
—Ho! who’s here?
If any thing that’s civil, take or lend,
If savage, speak.
If you are civilised and peaceable, take a price for what I want, or lend it for a future recompence; if you are rough inhospitable inhabitants of the mountain, speak, that I may know my state.
III.vi.77 (242,4) then had my prize/Been less; and so more equal ballasting] HANMER reads plausibly, but without necessity, price, for prize, and balancing, for ballasting. He is followed by Dr. WARBURTON. The meaning is, Had I been a less prize, I should not have been too heavy for Posthumus.
III.vi.86 (243,5) That nothing-gift of differing multitudes] [T: deferring] He is followed by Sir T. HANMER and Dr. WARBURTON; but I do not see why differing may not be a general epithet, and the expression equivalent to the many-headed rabble.
and to you, the tribunes,
For this immediate levy, he commands
His absolute commission]
The plain meaning is, he commands the commission to be given to you. So we say, I ordered the materials to the workmen.
IV.ii.10 (245,1) Stick to your journal course: the breach of custom/ Is breach of all] Keep your daily course uninterrupted; if the stated plan of life is once broken, nothing follows but confusion.
IV.ii.17 (246,2) How much the quantity] I read, As much the quantity.—
IV.ii.38 (247,3) I could not stir him] Not move him to tell his story.
IV.ii.39 (247,4) gentle, but unfortunate] Gentle, is well born, of birth above the vulgar.
IV.ii.59 (248,6) And let the stinking elder, Grief, untwine/ His perishing root, with the encreasing vine!] Shakespeare had only seen English vines which grow against walls, and therefore may be sometimes entangled with the elder. Perhaps we should read untwine from the vine.
IV.ii.105 (251,9) the snatches in his vice,/And burst of speaking] This is one of our author’s strokes of observation. An abrupt and tumultuous utterance very frequently accompanies a confused and cloudy understanding.
IV.ii.111 (251,1) for the effect of judgment/Is oft the cause of fear] HANMER reads, with equal justness of sentiment,
—for defect of judgment
Is oft the cure of fear.—
But, I think, the play of effect and cause more resembling the manner of our author.
IV.ii.118 (252,2) I am perfect, what] I am well informed, what. So in this play,
I’m perfect, the Pannonians are in arms.
IV.ii.121 (252,3) take us in] To take in, was the phrase in use for to apprehend an out-law, or to make him amenable to public justice.
IV.ii.148 (253,5) the boy Fidele’s sickness/Did make my way long forth] Fidele’s sickness made my walk forth from the cave tedious.
IV.ii.159 (254,6) revenges/That possible strength might meet] Such pursuit of vengeance as fell within any possibility of opposition.
IV.ii.168 (254,7) I’d let a parish of such Clotens blood] [W: marish] The learned commentator has dealt the raproach of nonsense very liberally through this play. Why this is nonsense, I cannot discover. I would, says the young prince, to recover Fidele, kill as many Clotens as would fill a parish.
IV.ii.246 (258,1) He was paid for that] HANMER reads,
He has paid for that:—
rather plausibly than rightly. Paid is for punished. So JONSON,
“Twenty things more, my friend, which you know due,
For which, or pay me quickly, or I’ll pay you.”
(see 1765, VII, 356, 3)
IV.ii.247 (258,2) reverence,/(That angel of the world)] Reverence, or due regard to subordination, is the power that keeps peace and order in the world.
IV.ii.268 (259,4) The scepter, learning, physic, must/ All follow this, and come to dust] The poet’s sentiment seems to have been this. All human excellence is equally the subject to the stroke of death: neither the power of kings, nor the science of scholars, nor the art of those whose immediate study is the prolongation of life, can protect then from the final destiny of man. (1773)
IV.ii.272 (260,5) Fear not slander, censure rash] Perhaps, Fear not slander’s censure rash.
IV.ii.275 (260,6) Consign to thee] Perhaps, Consign to this. And in the former stanza, for all follow this, we might read, all follow thee.
IV.ii.280 (260,7) Both. Quiet consummation have;/ And renowned be thy grave!] For the obsequies of Fidele, a song was written by my unhappy friend, Mr. William Collins of Chichester, a man of uncommon learning and abilities. I shall give it a place at the end in honour of his memory.
IV.ii.315 (262,1) Conspired with] The old copy reads thus,
Conspir’d with that irregulous divel, Cloten.
I suppose it should be,
Conspir’d with th’ irreligious devil, Cloten.
IV.ii.346 (263,2) Last night the very gods shew’d me a vision] [W: warey] Of this meaning I know not any example, nor do I see any need of alteration. It was no common dream, but sent from the very gods, or the gods themselves.
who was he,
That, otherwise than noble nature did,
Hath alter’d that good figure?]
Here are many words upon a very slight debate. The sense is not much cleared by either critic [Theobald and Warburton]. The question is asked, not about a body, but a picture, which is not very apt to grow shorter or longer. To do a picture, and a picture is well done, are standing phrases; the question therefore is, Who has altered this picture, so as to make it otherwise than nature did it.
IV.ii.389 (266,5) these poor pickaxes] Meaning her fingers.
IV.iii (266,1) Cymbeline’s palace] This scene is omitted against all authority by Sir T. HANMER. It is indeed of no great use in the progress of the fable, yet it makes a regular preparation for the next act.
IV.iii.22 (267,3) our jealousy/Does yet depend] My suspicion is yet undetermined; if I do not condemn you, I likewise have not acquitted you. We now say, the cause is depending.
IV.iii.29 (267,4) Your preparation can affront no less/Than what you hear of] Your forces are able to face such an army as we hear the enemy will bring against us.
IV.iii.44 (268,6) to the note o’ the king] I will so distinguish myself, the king shall remark my valour.
IV.iv.11 (269,1) a render/Where we have liv’d] An account of our place of abode. This dialogue is a just representation of the superfluous caution of an old man.
IV.iv.13 (269,2) That which we have done, whose answer would be death] The retaliation of the death of Cloten would be death, &c.
IV.iv.18 (269,3) their quarter’d fires] Their fires regularly disposed.
V.i (271,1) Enter Posthumus, with a bloody handkerchief] The bloody token of Imogen’s death, which Pisanio in the foregoing act determined to send.
V.i.1-33 (271,2) Yea, bloody cloth, I’ll keep thee] This is a soliloquy of nature, uttered when the effervescence of a mind agitated and perturbed spontaneously and inadvertently discharges itself in words. The speech, throughout all its tenor, if the last conceit be excepted, seems to issue warm from the heart. He first condemns his own violence; then tries to disburden himself, by imputing part of the crime to Pisanio; he next sooths his mind to an artificial and momentary tranquility, by trying to think that he has been only an instrument of the gods for the happiness of Imogen. He is now grown reasonable enough to determine, that having done so much evil he will do no more; that he will not fight against the country which he has already injured; but as life is not longer supportable, he will die in a just cause, and die with the obscurity of a man who does not think himself worthy to be remembered.
V.i.9 (271,3) to put on] Is to incite, to instigate.
V.i.14 (272,4) To second ills with ills, each elder worse] For this reading all the later editors have contentedly taken,
—each worse than other,
without enquiries whence they have received it. Yet they know, or might know, that it has no authority. The original copy reads,
—each elder worse,
The last deed is certainly not the oldest, but Shakespeare calls the deed of an elder man an elder deed.
V.i.15 (272,5) And make them dread it, to the doers’ thrift] [T: dreaded, to] This emendation ia followed by HANMER. Dr. WARBURTON reads, I know not whether by the printer’s negligence,
And make them dread, to the doers’ thrift.
There seems to be no very satisfactory sense yet offered. I read, but with hesitation,
And make them deeded, to the doers’ thrift.
The word deeded I know not indeed where to find; but Shakespeare has, in another sense undeeded, in Macbeth:
“I sheath again undeeded.”—
I will try again, and read thus,
—others you permit
To second ills with ills, each other worse,
And make them trade it, to the doers’ thrift.
Trade and thrift correspond. Our author plays with trade, as it signifies a lucrative vocation, or a frequent practice. So Isabella says,
“Thy sins, not accidental, but a trade.”
V.i.16 (273,9) Do your best wills,/And make me blest to obey!] So the copies. It was more in the manner of our author to have written,
—Do your blest wills,
And make me blest t’ obey.—
V.iii.41 (276,3) A rout, confusion thick] [W: confusion-thick] I do not see what great addition is made to fine diction by this compound. Is it not as natural to enforce the principal event in a story by repetition, as to enlarge the principal figure in a figure?
V.iii.51 (276,4) bugs] Terrors.
V.iii.53 (277,5) Nay, do not wonder at it] [T: do but] There is no need of alteration. Posthumus first bids him not wonder, then tells him in another mode of reproach, that wonder is all that he was made for.
V.iii.79 (278,8) great the answer be] Answer, as once in this play before, is retaliation.
V.iii.87 (278,9) That gave the affront with them] That is, that turned their faces to the enemy.
V.iv.1 (279,1) You shall not now be stolen, you have locks upon you;/So, graze, as you find pasture] This wit of the gaoler alludes to the custom of putting a lock on a horse’s leg, when he is turned to pasture.
V.iv.27 (280,3) If you will take this audit, take this life,/And cancel those cold bonds] This equivocal use of bonds is another instance of our author’s infelicity in pathetic speeches.
V.iv.45 (281,5) That from me my Posthumus ript] The old copy reads,
That from me was Posthumus ript.
Perhaps we should read,
That from my womb Posthumus ript,
Came crying ‘mongst his foes.
‘Tis still a dream; or else such stuff, as madmen
Tongue, and brain not: either both or nothing:
Or senseless speaking, or a speaking such
As sense cannot untie. Be what it is,
The action of my life is like it]
The meaning, which is too thin to be easily caught, I take to be this: This is a dream or madness, or both—or nothing—but whether it be a speech without consciousness, as in a dream, or a speech unintelligible, as in madness, be it as it is, it is like my course of life. We might perhaps read,
Whether both, or nothing—
V.iv,164 (285,8) sorry that you have paid too much, and sorry that you are paid too much] Tavern bills, says the gaoler, are the sadness of parting, as the procuring of mirth—you depart reeling with too much drink; sorry that you have paid too much, and—what? sorry that you are paid too much. Where is the opposition? I read, And merry that you are paid so much. I take the second paid to be paid, for appaid, filled, satiated.
V.iv.171 (286,9) debtor and creditor] For an accounting book.
V.iv.188 (286,1) jump the after-enquiry] That is, venture at it without thought. So Macbeth,
“We’d jump the life to come.” (see 1765, VII, 382, 7)
V.v.9 (288,1) one that promis’d nought/But beggary and poor looks] To promise nothing but poor looks, may be, to give no promise of courageous behaviour.
V.v.88 (291,2) So feat] So ready; so dextrous in waiting.
V.v.93 (291,3) His favour is familiar to me] I am acquainted with his countenance.
V.v.120 (292,4) One sand another/Not more resembles. That sweet rosy lad] [W: resembles, than be th’ sweet] There was no great difficulty in the line, which, when properly pointed, needs no alteration.
V.v.203 (296,8) averring notes/Of chamber-hanging, pictures] Such marks of the chamber and pictures, as averred or confirmed my report.
V.v.220 (297,9) the temple/Of virtue was she; yea, and she herself] That is, She was not only the temple of virtue, but virtue herself.
V.v.233 (297,1) these staggers] This wild and delirious perturbation. Staggers is the horse’s apoplexy.
V.v.262 (298,2) Think, that you are upon a rock; and now/Throw me again] In this speech, or in the answer, there is little meaning. I suppose, she would say, Consider such another act as equally fatal to me with precipitation from a rock, and now let me see whether you will repeat it.
V.v.308 (300,3) By tasting of our wrath] [W: hasting] There is no need of change; the consequence is taken for the whole action; by tasting is by forcing us to make thee taste.
V.v.334 (301,5) Your pleasure was my near offence, my punishment,/ Itself, and all my treason] I think this passage may better be read thus,
Your pleasure was my dear offence, my punishment
Itself was all my treason; that I suffer’d,
Was all the harm I did.—
The offence which cost me so dear was only your caprice. My sufferings have been all my crime.
Thou weep’st, and speak’st.
The service that you three have done is more
Unlike than this thou tell’st]
“Thy tears give testimony to the sincerity of thy relation; and I have the less reason to be incredulous, because the actions which you have done within my knowledge are more incredible than the story which you relate.” The king reasons very justly.
V.v.378 (303,7) When ye were so, indeed] The folio gives,
When we were so, indeed.
If this be right, we must read,
Imo. I, you brothers.
Arv. When we were so, indeed.
V.v.382 (303,8) fierce abridgment] Fierce, is vehement, rapid.
V.v.459 (306,1) My peace we will begin] I think it better to read,
By peace we will begin.—
(307) General Observation. This play has many just sentiments, some natural dialogues, and some pleasing scenes, but they are obtained at the expence of much incongruity. To remark the folly of the fiction, the absurdity of the conduct, the confusion of the names, and manners of different times, and the impossibility of the events in any system of life, were to waste criticism upon unresisting imbecility, upon faults too evident for detection, and too gross for aggravation.
I.i.4 (311,2) in the division of the kingdom] There is something of obscurity or inaccuracy in this preparatory scene. The king has already divided his kingdom, and yet when he enters he examines his daughters, to discover in what proportions he should divide it. Perhaps Kent and Gloucester only were privy to his design, which he still kept in his own hands, to be changed or performed as subsequent reasons should determine him.
I.i.37 (313,7) express our darker purpose] [Darker, for more secret; not for indirect, oblique. WARBURTON.] This word may admit a further explication. We shall express our darker purpose: that is, we have already made known in some measure our design of parting the kingdom; we will now discover what has not been told before, the reasons by which we shall regulate the partition. This interpretation will justify or palliate the exordial dialogue.
I.i.39 (313,8) and ’tis our fast intent] [This is an interpolation of Mr. Lewis Theobald, for want of knowing the meaning of the old reading in the quarto of 1608, and first folio of 1623; where we find it,
—and ’tis our first intent.
Fast is the reading of the first folio, and, I think, the true reading.
I.i.44 (314,9) We have this hour a constant will] constant will seems a confirmation of fast intent.
I.i.62 (314,2) Beyond all manner of so much I love you] Beyond all assignable quantity. I love you beyond limits, and cannot say it is so much, for how much soever I should name, it would yet be more.
I find, she names my very deed of love,
Only she comes too short; that I profess]
That seems to stand without relation, but is referred to find, the first conjunction being inaccurately suppressed. I find that she names my deed, I find that I profess, &c.
I.i.76 (315,5) Which the most precious square of sense possesses] [Warburton explained “square” as the “four nobler senses”] This is acute; but perhaps square means only compass, comprehension.
I.i.80 (315,6) More pond’rous than my tongue] [W: their tongue] I think the present reading right.
I.i.84 (316,8) Now our joy] Here the true reading is picked out of two copies. Butter’s quarto reads,
—But now our joy,
Although the last, not least in our dear love,
What can you say to win a third, &c.
—Now our joy,
Although our last, and least; to whose young love
The vines of France, and milk of Burgundy,
Strive to be int’ress’d. What can you say?
I.i.138 (318,5) The sway, revenue, execution of the rest] [W: of th’ hest] I do not see any great difficulty in the words, execution of the rest, which are in both the old copies. The execution of the rest is, I suppose, all the other business. Dr. Warburton’s own explanation of his amendment confutes it; if hest be a regal comnand, they were, by the grant of Lear, to have rather the hest than the execution.
Think’st thou, that duty shall have dread to speak,
When power to flattery bows? To plainness honour’s bound,
When majesty stoops to folly. Reverse thy doom,
And in thy best consideration check
This hideous rashness: answer my life my judgment,
Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least]
I have given this passage according to the old folio, from which the modern editions have silently departed, for the sake of better numbers, with a degree of insincerity, which, if not sometimes detected and censured, must impair the credit of ancient books. One of the editors, and perhaps only one, knew how much mischief may be done by such clandestine alterations. The quarto agrees with the folio, except that for reserve thy state, it gives, reverse thy doom, and has stoops instead of falls to folly. The meaning of answer my life my judgment, is, Let my life be answerable for my judgment, or, I will stake my life on my opinion.—The reading which, without any right, has possessed all the modern copies is this;
—to plainness honour
Is bound, when majesty to folly falls.
Reserve thy state; with better judgment check
This hideous rashness; with my life I answer,
Thy youngest daughter, &c.
I am inclined to think that reverse thy doom was Shakespeare’s first reading, as more apposite to the present occasion, and that he changed it afterwards to reserve thy state, which conduces more to the progress of the action.
I.i.161 (320,9) The true blank of thine eye] The blank is the white or exact mark at which the arrow is shot. See better, says Kent, and keep me always in your view.
I.i.172 (320,1) strain’d pride] The oldest copy reads strayed pride; that is, pride exorbitant; pride passing due bounds.
I.i.174 (320,3) Which nor our nature, nor our place, can bear;/ Our potency made good] [T: (Which … bear) … made good] [Warburton defended “make”] Theobald only inserted the parenthesis; he found made good in the best copy of 1623. Dr. Warburton has very acutely explained and defended the reading that he has chosen, but I am not certain that he has chosen right. If we take the reading of the folio, our potency made good, the sense will be less profound indeed, but less intricate, and equally commodious. As thou hast come with unreasonable pride between the sentence which I had passed, and the power by which I shall execute it, take thy reward in another sentence which shall make good, shall establish, shall maintain, that power. If Dr. Warburton’s explanation be chosen, and every reader will wish to choose it, we may better read,
Which nor our nature, nor our state can bear,
Or potency make good.—
Mr. Davies thinks, that our potency made good relates only to our place.—Which our nature cannot bear, nor our place, without departure from the potency of that place. This is easy and clear.—Lear, who is characterized as hot, heady, and violent, is, with very just observation of life, made to entangle himself with vows, upon any sudden provocation to vow revenge, and then to plead the obligation of a vow in defence of implacability.
I.i.181 (322,4) By Jupiter] Shakespeare makes his Lear too much a mythologist: he had Hecate and Apollo before.
I.i.190 (322,6) He’ll shape his old course] He will follow his old maxims; he will continue to act upon the same principles.
I.i.201 (323,7) If aught within that little, seeming, substance] Seeming is beautiful.
I.i.209 (323,9) Election makes not up on such conditions] To make up signifies to complete, to conclude; as, they made up the bargain; but in this sense it has, I think, always the subject noun after it. To make up, in familiar language, is, neutrally, to come forward, to make advances, which, I think, is meant here.
Sure her offence
Must be of such unnatural degree,
That monsters it: or your fore-vouch’d affection
Fall into taint]
The common books read,
—or your fore-vouch’d affection
Fall’n into taint:—
This line has no clear or strong sense, nor is this reading authorized by any copy, though it has crept into all the late editions. The early quarto reads,
—or you for vouch’d affections
Fall’n into taint.—
—or your fore-vouch’d affection
Fall into taint.—
Taint is used for corruption and for disgrace. If therefore we take the oldest reading it may be reformed thus:
—sure her offence
Must be of such unnatural degree,
That monsters it; or you for vouch’d affection
Fall into taint.
Her offence must be prodigious, or you must fal1 into reproach for having vouched affection which you did not feel. If the reading of the folio be preferred, we may with a very slight change produce the same sense:
—sure her offence
Must be of such unnatural degree,
That monsters it, or your fore-vouch’d affection
Falls into taint.—
That is, falls into reproach or censure. But there is another possible sense. Or signifies before, and or ever is before ever; the meaning in the folio may therefore be, Sure her crime must be monstrous before your affection can be affected with hatred. Let the reader determine.—As I am not much a friend to conjectural emendation, I should prefer the latter sense, which requires no change of reading.
I.i.243 (325,3) from the intire point] Intire, for right, true. WARB.] Rather, single, unmixed with other considerations.
I.i.264 (326,5) Thou losest here, better where to find] Here and where have the power of nouns. Thou losest this residence to find a better residence in another place.
I.i.282 (326,6) And well are worth the want that you have wanted] [This I take to be the poet’s meaning, stript of the jingle which makes it dark: “You well deserve to meet with that want of love from your husband, which you have professed to want for our father.” THEOBALD.] [W: have vaunted] I think the common reading very suitable to the manner of our author, and well enough explained by Theobald.
I.i.283 (327,7) plaited cunning] i.e. complicated, involved cunning. (1773)
I.ii.3 (328,2) Stand in the plague of custom] The word plague is in all the copies; I can scarcely think it right, nor can I yet reconcile myself to the emendation proposed, though I have nothing better to offer [Warburton had proposed plage].
I.ii.21 (330,7) Shall be the legitimate] [Hanmer: toe th’] Hanmer’s emendation will appear very plausible to him that shall consult the original reading. Butter’s quarto reads,
—Edmund the base
Shall tooth’ legitimate.—
—Edmund the base
Shall to th’ legitimate.—
Hanmer, therefore, could hardly be charged with coining a word, though his explanation may be doubted. To toe him, is perhaps to kick him out, a phrase yet in vulgar use; or, to toe, may be literally to supplant. The word be has no authority.
I.ii.24 (331,1) subscrib’d his power!] To subscribe, is, to transfer by signing or subscribing a writing of testimony. We now use the term, He subscribed forty pounds to the new building.
I.ii.25 (331,2) Confin’d to exhibition!] Is allowance. The term is yet used in the universities.
I.ii.25 (331,3) All this done/Upon the gad!] So the old copies; the later editions read,
—All is gone
Upon the gad!—
which, besides that it is unauthorized, is less proper. To do upon the gad, is, to act by the sudden stimulation of caprice, as cattle run madding when they are stung by the gad fly.
I.ii.47 (332,4) taste of my virtue] Though taste may stand in this place, yet I believe we should read, assay or test of my virtue: they are both metallurgical terms, and properly joined. So in Hamlet,
Bring me to the test.
I.ii.51 (323,6) idle and fond] Weak and foolish.
I.ii.95 (333,7) pretence] Pretence is design, purpose. So afterwards in this play,
Pretence and purpose of unkindness.
I.ii.106 (333,8) wind me into him] I once thought it should be read, you into him; but, perhaps, it is a familiar phrase, like do me this.
I.ii.107 (333,9) I would unstate myself to be in a due resolution] [i.e. I will throw aside all consideration of my relation to him, that I may act as justice requires. WARBURTON.] Such is this learned man’s explanation. I take the meaning to be rather this,Do you frame the business, who can act with less emotion; I would unstate myself; it would in me be a departure from the paternal character, to be in a due resolution, to be settled and composed on such an occasion. The words would and shouldare in old language often confounded.
I.ii.l09 (334,1) convey the business] [Convey, for introduce. WARB.] To convey is rather to carry through than to introduce; in this place it is to manage artfully: we say of a juggler, that he has a clean conveyance.
I.ii.112 (334,2) These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us: tho’ the wisdom of nature can reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds itself scourg’d by the frequent effects] That is, though natural philosophy can give account of eclipses, yet we feel their consequences.
I.ii.156 (338,8) I promise you, the effects he writes of, succeed unhappily] The folio edition commonly differs from the first quarto, by augmentations or insertions, but in this place it varies by omission, and by the omission of something which naturally introduces the following dialogue. It is easy to remark, that in this speech, which ought, I think, to be inserted as it now is in the text, Edmund, with the common craft of fortune-tellers, mingles the past and future, and tells of the future only what he already foreknows by confederacy, or can attain by probable conjecture. (see 1765, VI, 27, 6)
I.ii.178 (339,1) that with the mischief of your person it would scarcely allay] This reading is in both copies; yet I believe the author gave it, that but with the mischief of your person it would scarce allay.
I.iii.19 (341,2) Old fools are babes again; and must be us’d/ With checks, as flatteries when they are seen abus’d] These lines hardly deserve a note, though Mr. Theobald thinks them very fine. Whether fools or folks should be read is not worth enquiry. The controverted line is yet in the old quarto, not as the editors represent it, but thus:
With checks as flatteries when they are seen abus’d.
I am in doubt whether there is any error of transcription. The sense seems to be this: Old men must be treated with checks, when as they are seen to be deceived with flatteries: or, when they are weak enough to be seen abused by flatteries, they are then weak enough to be used with checks. There is a play of the words used and abused. To abuse is, in our author, very frequently the same as to deceive. This construction is harsh and ungrammatical; Shakespeare perhaps thought it vicious, and chose to throw away the lines rather than correct them, nor would now thank the officiousness of his editors, who restore what they do not understand.
I.iv.118 (347,5) Would I had two coxcombs, and two daughters] Two fools caps, intended, as it seems, to mark double folly in the man that gives all to his daughters.
I.iv.133 (347,7) Lend less than thou owest] That is, do not lend all that thou hast. To owe, in old English, is to possess. If owe be taken for to be in debt, the more prudent precept would be, Lend more than thou owest.
I.iv.153-170 (348,9) This dialogue, from No, lad; teach me, down to, Give me an egg, was restored from the first edition by Mr. Theobald. It is omitted in the folio, perhaps for political reasons, as it seemed to censure monopolies.
I.iv.181 (349,2) Fools ne’er had less grace in a year] There never was a time when fools were less in favour; and the reason is, that they were never so little wanted, for wise men now supply their place. Such I think is the meaning. The old edition has witfor grace.
I.iv.219 (350,5) That’s a sheal’d peascod] i.e. Now a mere husk, which contains nothing. The outside of a king remains, but all the intrinsic parts of royalty are gone: he has nothing to give. (1773)
I.iv.245 (351,3) Whoop, Jug] There are in the fool’s speeches several passages which seem to be proverbial allusions, perhaps not now to be understood.
I.iv.256 (352,1) Fool. Which they will make an obedient father] [This line I have restored from the quarto. STEEVENS] This note [Tyrwhitt’s, quoted by Steevens] is written with confidence disproportionate to the conviction which it can bring. Lear might as well know by the marks and tokens arising from sovereignty, knowledge, and reason, that he had or had not daughters, as he could know by any thing else. But, says he, if I judge by these tokens, I find the persuasion false by which I long thought myself the father of daughters. (1773)
I.iv.302 (355,7) from her derogate body] [Derogate for unnatural. WARB.] Rather, I think, degraded; blasted.
That these hot tears, which break from me perforce,
Should make thee worth them.—Blasts and fogs upon thee!
The untented woundings of a father’s curse
Pierce every sense about thee!—Old fond eyes,
Beweep this cause again]
I will transcribe this passage from the first edition, that it may appear to those who are unacquainted with old books, what is the difficulty of revision, and what indulgence is due to those that endeavour to restore corrupted passages.—That these hot tears, that breake from me perforce, should make the worst blasts and fogs upon the untender woundings of a father’s curse, peruse every sense about the old fond eyes, beweep this cause again, &c.
I.iv.362 (358,3) compact it more] Unite one circumstance with another, so as to make a consistent account.
I.iv.366 (358,4) You are much more at task for want of wisdom] It is a common phrase now with parents and governesses. I’ll take you to task, i.e. I will reprehend and correct you. To be at task, therefore, is to be liable to reprehension and correction. (1773)
I.v.5 (358,1) I shall be there afore you] He seems to intend to go to his daughter, but it appears afterwards that he is going to the house of Glo’ster.
I.v.25 (359,2) I did her wrong] He is musing on Cordelia.
I.v.42 (359,3) To take it again perforce!] He is meditating on the resumption of his royalty.
II.i.9 (360,1) ear-kissing arguments] Subjects of discourse; topics.
II.i.19 (361,2) queazy question] Something of a suspicious, questionable, and uncertain nature. This is, I think, the meaning.
II.i.27 (361,4) have you nothing said/Upon his party ‘gainst the duke of Albany?] I cannot but think the line corrupted, and would read,
Against his party, for the duke of Albany?
II.i.57 (363,7) gasted] Frighted.
II.i.59 (363,8) Not in this land shall he remain uncaught;/And found—Dispatch] [Not in this land shall he remain uncaught; And found dispatch—the noble duke, &c.]
[W: found, dispatch’d.] I do not see how this change mends the sense: I think it may be better regulated as in the page above. The sense is interrupted. He shall be caught—and found, he shall be punished. Dispatch.
II.i.67 (363,2) And found him pight to do it, with curst speech] Pight is pitched, fixed, settled. Curst is severe, harsh, vehemently angry.
II.i.122 (366,7) Occasions, noble Glo’ster, of some prize] [W: poize] Prize, or price, for value. (1773)
II.i.126 (366,8) from our home] Not at home, but at some other place.
II.ii.9 (367,1) Lipsbury pinfold] The allusion which seems to be contained in this line I do not understand. In the violent eruption of reproaches which bursts from Kent in this dialogue, there are some epithets which the commentators have left unexpounded, and which I am not very able to make clear. Of a three-suited knave I know not the meaning, unless it be that he has different dresses for different occupations. Lilly-liver’d is cowardly; white-blooded and white-liver’d are still in vulgar use. An one-trunk-inheriting slave, I take to be a wearer of old cast-off cloaths, an inheritor of torn breeches.
II.ii.36 (368,4) barber-monger] Of this word I do not clearly see the force.
II.ii.39 (368,5) Vanity the puppet’s] Alluding to the mysteries or allegorical shews, in which vanity, iniquity, and other vices, were personified.
II.ii.45 (369,6) neat slave] You mere slave, you very slave.
II.ii.69 (369,8) Thou whoreson zed; thou unnecessary letter!] I do not well understand how a man is reproached by being called zed, nor how Z is an unnecessary letter. Scarron compares his deformity to the shape of Z, and it may be a proper word of insult to a crook-backed man; but why should Gonerill’s steward be crooked, unless the allusion be to his bending or cringing posture in the presence of his superiors. Perhaps it was written, thou whoreson C (for cuckold) thou unnecessary letter. C is a letter unnecessary in our alphabet, one of its two sounds being represented by S, and one by K. But all the copies concur in the common reading.
II.ii.87 (371,3) epileptic visage!] The frighted countenance of a man ready to fall in a fit.
II.ii.103 (372,5) constrains the garb/Quite from his nature] Forces his outside or his appearance to something totally different from his natural disposition.
II.ii.109 (372,8) Than twenty silly ducking observants] [W: silky] The alteration is more ingenious than the arguments by which it is supported.
II.ii.119 (373,8) though I should win your displeasure to intreat me to’t] Though I should win you, displeased as you now are, to like me so well as to intreat me to be a knave.
Good king, that must approve the common saw!
Thou out of heaven’s benediction com’at
To the warm sun!]
That art now to exemplify the common proverb, That out of, &c. That changest better for worse. Hanmer observes, that it is a proverbial saying, applied to those who are turned out of house and home to the open weather. It was perhaps first used of men dismissed from an hospital, or house of charity, such as was erected formerly in many places for travellers. Those houses had names properly enough alluded to by heaven’s benediction.
I know ’tis from Cordelia;
Who hath most fortunately been inform’d
Of my obscur’d coarse, and shall find time
From this enormous state, seeking to give
Losses their remedies]
This passage, which some of the editors have degraded, as spurious, to the margin, and others have silently altered, I have faithfully printed according to the quarto, from which the folio differs only in punctuation. The passage is very obscure, if not corrupt. Perhaps it may be read thus:
Of my obscur’d course, and shall find time
From this enormous state-seeking, to give
Losses their remedies.—
Cordelia is informed of our affairs, and when the enormous care of seeking her fortune will allow her time, she will employ it in remedying losses. This is harsh; perhaps something better may be found. I have at least supplied the genuine reading of the old copies. Enormous is unwonted, out of rule, out of the ordinary course of things.
II.iii.18 (377,2) Poor pelting villages] Pelting is, I believe, only an accidental depravation of petty. Shakespeare uses it in the Midsummer-Night’s Dream of small brooks.
II.iii.20 (378,3) Poor Turlygood! poor Tom!] [W: Turlupin] Hanmer reads, poor Turlurd. It is probable the word Turlygood was the common corrupt pronunciation.
II.iii.21 (378,4) Edgar I nothing am] As Edgar I am out-lawed, dead in law; I have no longer any political existence.
II.iv (378,1) Changes again to the earl of Glo’ster’s castle] It is not very clearly discovered why Lear comes hither. In the foregoing part he sent a letter to Glo’ster; but no hint is given of its contents. He seems to have gone to visit Glo’ster while Cornwall and Regan might prepare to entertain him.
II.iv.24 (380,4) To do upon respect such violent outrage] To violate the public and venerable character of a messenger from the king.
II.iv.46 (380,7) Winter’s not gone yet, if the wild geese fly that way] If this be their behaviour, the king’s troubles are not yet at an end.
II.iv.70 (381,9) All that follow their noses are led by their eyes, but blind men; and there’s not a nose among twenty, but can smell him that’s stinking] There is in this sentence no clear series of thought. If he that follows his nose is led or guided by his eyes, he wants no information from his nose. I persuade myself, but know not whether I can persuade others, that our author wrote thus:—”All men are led by their eyes, but blind men, and they follow their noses; and there’s not a nose among twenty but can smell him that’s stinking.”—Here is a succession of reasoning. You ask, why the king has no more in his train? why, because men who are led by their eyes see that he is ruined; and if there were any blind among them, who, for want of eyes, followed their noses, they might by their noses discover that it was no longer fit to follow the king.
But I will tarry; the fool will stay,
And let the wise man fly;
The knave turns fool, that runs away;
The fool no knave, perdy]
I think this passage erroneous, though both the copies concur. The sense mill be mended if we read,
But I will tarry; the fool will stay,
And let the wise man fly;
The fool turns knave, that runs away;
The knave no fool,—
That I stay with the king is a proof that I am a fool, the wise men are deserting him. There is knavery in this desertion, but there is no folly.
II.iv.116 (383,3) Is practice only] Practice is in Shakespeare, and other old writers, used commonly in an ill sense for unlawful artifice.
II.iv.122 (384,4) Cry to it, nuncle, as the cockney did to the eels, when she put them i’ the paste alive] Hinting that the eel and Lear are in the same danger.
II.iv.142 (384,7) Than she to scant her duty] The word scant is directly contrary to the sense intended. The quarto reads,
—slack her duty,
which is no better. May we not change it thus:
You less know bow to value her desert,
Than she to scan her duty.
To scan may be to measure or proportion. Yet our author uses his negatives with such licentiousness, that it is hardly safe to make any alteration.—Scant may mean to adapt, to fit, to proportion; which sense seems still to be retained in the mechanical term scantling. (see 1765, VI, 67, 4)
II.iv.155 (385,1) Do you but mark how this becomes the house?] [T: the use?] [Warburton called “becomes the house” “a most expressive phrase”] with this most expressive phrase I believe no reader is satisfied. I suspect that it has been written originally,
Ask her forgiveness?
Do you but mark how this becometh—thus.
Dear daughter, I confess, &c.
Becomes the house, and becometh thus, might be easily confounded by readers so unskilful as the original printers.
II.iv.157 (386,2) Age is unnecessary] i.e. Old age has few wants.
II.iv.162 (386,3) Look’d black upon me] To look black, may easily be explained to look cloudy or gloomy. See Milton:
“So frown’d the mighty combatants, that hell
Grew darker at their frown.”—
II.iv.170 (386,4) To fall, and blast her pride!] Thus the quarto: the folio reads not so well, to fall and blister. I think there is still a fault, which may be easily mended by changing a letter:
—Infect her beauty,
Ye fen-suck’d fogs, drawn by the powerful sun,
Do, fall, and blast her pride!
II.iv.174 (387.6) Thy tender-hested nature shall not give/Thee o’er to harshness] This word, though its general meaning be plain, I do not critically understand.
II.iv.178 (387,7) to scant my sizes] To contract my allowances or proportions settled.
II.iv.203 (388,9) much less advancement] The word advancement is ironically used here for conspicuousness of punishment; as we now say, a man is advanced to the pillory. We should read,
—but his own disorders
Deserv’d much more advancement.
II.iv.204 (388,1) I pray you, father, being weak, seem so] [W: deem’t so] The meaning is, since you are weak, be content to think yourself weak. No change is needed.
II.iv.218 (389,3) base life] i.e. In a servile state.
II.iv.227 (390,5) embossed carbuncle] Embossed is swelling, protuberant.
II.iv.259 (391,6) Those wicked creatures yet do look well-favour’d:/ When others are more wicked] Dr. Warburton would exchange the repeated epithet wicked into wrinkled in both places. The commentator’s only objection to the lines as they now stand, is the discrepancy of the metaphor, the want of opposition between wicked and well-favoured. But he might have remembered what he says in his own preface concerning mixed modes. Shakespeare, whose mind was more intent upon notions than words, had in his thoughts the pulchritude of virtue, and the deformity of wickedness; and though he had mentioned wickedness, made the correlative answer to deformity.
III.i.7 (394,1) That things might change, or cease: tears his white hair] The first folio ends the speech at change, or cease, and begins again with Kent’s question, But who is with him? The whole speech is forcible, but too long for the occasion, and properly retrenched.
III.i.18 (395,3) my note] My observation of your character.
III.i.29 (395,6) are but furnishings] Furnishings are what we now call colours, external pretences. (1773)
There is division,
Although as yet the face of it is cover’d
with mutual cunning, ‘twixt Albany and Cornwall;
Who have (as who have not, whom their great stars
Throne and set high?) servants, who seem no less;
Which are to France the spies and speculations
Intelligent of our state. What hath been seen,
Either in snuffs and packings of the dukes;
Or the hard rein, which both of them have borne
Against the old kind king; or something deeper,
Whereof, perchance, these are but furnishings.
[But, true it is, from France there comes a power
Into this scatter’d kingdom; who already,
Wise in our negligence, have secret fee
In some of our best ports, and are at point
To shew their open banner.—Now to you:]]
The true state of this speech cannot from all these notes be discovered. As it now stands it is collected from two editions: the lines which I have distinguished by Italics are found in the folio, not in the quarto; the following lines inclosed in crotchets are in the quarto, not in the folio. So that if the speech be read with omissions of the Italics, it will stand according to the first edition; and if the Italics are read, and the lines that follow them omitted, it will then stand according to the second. The speech is now tedious, because it is formed by a coalition of both. The second edition is generally best, and was probably nearest to Shakespeare’s last copy, but in this passage the first is preferable; for in the folio, the messenger is sent, he knows not why, he knows not whither. I suppose Shakespeare thought his plot opened rather too early, and made the alteration to veil the event from the audience; but trusting too much to himself, and full of a single purpose, he did not accommodate his new lines to the rest of the scene.—The learned critic’s [Warburton] emendations are now to be examined. Scattered he has changed to scathed; for scattered, he says, gives the idea of an anarchy, which was not the case. It may be replied that scathed gives the idea of ruin, waste, and desolation, which was not the case. It is unworthy a lover of truth, in questions of great or little moment, to exaggerate or extenuate for mere convenience, or for vanity yet less than convenience. Scattered naturally means divided, unsettled, disunited.—Next is offered with great pomp a change of sea to seize; but in the first edition the word is fee, for hire, in the sense of having any one in fee, that is, at devotion for money. Fee is in the second quarto changed to see, from which one madesea and another seize.
III.ii.4 (398,1) thought-executing] Doing execution with rapidity equal to thought.
III.ii.19 (399,4) Here I stand, your slave] [W: brave] The meaning is plain enough, he was not their slave by right or compact, but by necessity and compulsion. Why should a passage be darkened for the sake of changing it? Besides, of brave in that sense I remember no example.
III.ii.24 (399,5) ’tis foul] Shameful; dishonourable.
III.ii.30 (399,6) So beggars marry many] i.e. A beggar marries a wife and lice.
III.ii.46 (400,1) Man’s nature cannot carry/The affliction, nor the fear] So the folio: the later editions read, with the quarto, force for fear, less elegantly.
III.ii.56 (401,3) That under covert and convenient seeming] Convenient needs not be understood in any other than its usual and proper sense; accommodate to the present purpose; suitable to a design. Convenient seeming is appearance such as may promote his purpose to destroy.
III.ii.53 (401,4) concealing continents] Continent stands for that which contains or incloses.
III.ii.72 (401,(5) Poor fool and knave, I have one part in my heart,/ That’s sorry yet for thee] Some editions read,
—thing in my heart;
from which Hanmer, and Dr. Warburton after him, have made string, very unnecessarily; both the copies have part.
He that has a little tiny wit,—
With heigh ho, the wind and the rain;
Must make content with his fortunes fit,
Though the rain it raineth every day]
I fancy that the second line of this stanza had once a termination that rhymed with the fourth; but I can only fancy it; for both the copies agree. It was once perhaps written,
With heigh ho, the wind and the rain in his way.
The meaning seems likewise to require this insertion. “He that has wit, however small, and finds wind and rain in his way, must content himself by thinking, that somewhere or other it raineth every day, and others are therefore suffering like himself.” Yet I am afraid that all this is chimerical, for the burthen appears again in the song at the end of Twelfth Night, and seems to have been an arbitrary supplement, without any reference to the sense of the song. (see 1765, VI, 84, 6)
III.ii.80 (402,8) I’ll speak a prophecy ere I go] [W: or two ere] The sagacity and acuteness of Dr. Warburton are very conspicuous in this note. He has disentangled the confusion of the passage, and I have inserted his emendation in the text. Or e’er is proved by Mr. Upton to be good English, but the controversy was not necessary, for or is not in the old copies. [Steevens retained “ere”]
III.ii.84 (403,1) No heretics burnt, but wenches’ suitors] The disease to which wenches’ suitors are particularly exposed, was called in Shakespeare’s time the brenning or burning.
In, boy; go first. [To the Fool.] You houseless poverty—
Nay, get thee in. I’ll pray, and then I’ll sleep]
These two lines were added in the author’s revision, and are only in the folio. They are very judiciously intended to represent that humility, or tenderness, or neglect of forms, which affliction forces on the mind.
III.iv.52 (407,3) led through fire and through flame] Alluding to the ignis fatuus, supposed to be lights kindled by mischievous beings to lead travellers into destruction.
III.iv.54 (407,4) laid knives under his pillow] He recounts the temptations by which he was prompted to suicide; the opportunities of destroying himself, which often occurred to him in his melancholy moods.
III.iv.60 (407,5) Bless thee from whirlwinds, star-blasting, and taking!] To take is to blast, or strike with malignant influence:
—strike her young limbs,
Ye taking airs, with lameness.
III.iv.77 (408,6) pelican daughters] The young pelican is fabled to suck the mother’s blood.
III.iv.95 (408,8) light of ear] [i.e. Credulous. WARBURTON.] Not merely credulous, but credulous of evil, ready to receive malicious reports. (1773)
III.iv.103 (409,1) says suum, mun, ha no nonny, dolphin my boy, boy, Sessy: let him trot by] Of this passage I can make nothing. I believe it corrupt: for wildness, not nonsense, is the effect of a disordered imagination. The quarto reads, hay no on ny, dolphins, my boy, cease, let him trot by. Of interpreting this there is not much hope or much need. But any thing may be tried. The madman, now counterfeiting a proud fit, supposes himself met on the road by some one that disputes the way, and criesHey!—No—but altering his mind, condescends to let him pass, and calls to his boy Dolphin (Rodolph) not to contend with him. On—Dolphin, my boy, cease. Let him trot by.
III.iv.122 (410,3) web and the pin] Diseases of the eye.
Saint Withold footed thrice the void;
He met the night-mare, and her nine-fold;
Bid her alight, and her troth plight,
And aroynt thee, witch, aroynt thee!]
In the old quarto the corruption is such as may deserve to be noted. “Swithold footed thrice the old another night moore and her nine fold bid her, O light, and her troth plight, and arint thee, with arint thee.”
III.iv.144 (412,6) small deer] Sir Thomas Hanmer reads geer, and is followed by Dr. Warburton. But deer in old language is a general word for wild animals.
III.iv.187 (414,8) Child Rowland] This word is in some of our ballads. There is a song of Child Walter, and a Lady.
III.v.21 (415,2) If I find him comforting the king] He uses the word in the juridical sense for supporting, helping, according to its derivation; salvia comfortat ne vos.—Schol. Sal. (rev. 1778, IX, 477, 3)
III.vi.20 (416,2) a horse’s health] [W: heels] Shakespeare is here speaking not of things maliciously treacherous, but of things uncertain and not durable, A horse is above all other animals subject to diseases.
III.vi.26 (416,3) Wantest thou eyes at trial, madam?] It may be observed that Edgar, being supposed to be found by chance, and therefore to have no knowledge of the rest, connects not his ideas with those of Lear, but pursues his own train of delirious or fantastic thought. To these words, At trial, madam? I think therefore that the name of Lear should be put. The process of the dialogue will support this conjecture. (1773)
III.vi.27 (417,4) Come oe’er the broom, Bessy, to me] As there is no relation between broom and a boat, we may better read,
Come o’er the brook, Bessy, to me.
Sleepest, or wakest thou, jolly shepherd?
Thy sheep be in the corn;
And for one blast of thy minikin mouth,
Thy sheep shall take no harm.]
This seems to be a stanza of some pastoral song. A shepherd is desired to pipe, and the request is enforced by a promise, that though his sheep be in the corn, i.e. committing a trespass by his negligence, implied in the question, Sleepest thou or wakest?Yet a single tune upon his pipe shall secure them from the pound. (1773)
III.vi.77 (419,8) Sessy, come] Here is sessey again, which I take to be the French word cessez pronounced cessey, which was, I suppose, like some others in common use among us. It is an interjection enforcing cessation of any action, like, be quiet, have done. It seems to have been gradually corrupted into, so, so.
III.vi.78 (419,9) thy horn is dry] Men that begged under pretence of lunacy used formerly to carry a horn, and blow it through the streets.
III.vi.103-121 (420,2) [Kent. Opprest nature sleeps] The lines inserted from the quarto are in crotchets. The omission of them in the folio is certainly faulty: yet I believe the folio is printed from Shakespeare’a last revision, carelessly and hastily performed, with more thought of shortening the scenes, than of continuing the action.
III.vi.111 (421,4) free things] States clear from distress.
III.vi. 117 (421,5)
Mark the high noises! and thyself bewray,
When false opinion, whose wrong thought defiles thee,
In thy just proof, repeals, and reconciles thee]
Attend to the great events that are approaching, and make thyself known. Then that false opinion now prevailing against thee shall, in consequence of just proof of thy integrity, revoke its erroneous sentence, and recall thee to honour and reconciliation.
III.vii.13 (421,6) ray lord of Glo’ster] Meaning Edmund, newly invested with his father’s titles. The steward, speaking immediately after, mentions the old duke by the same title.
Though well we may not pass upon his life
Without the form of justice; yet our power
Shall do a courtesy to our wrath]
To do a courtesy is to gratify, to comply with. To pass, is to pass a judicial sentence. (1773)
III.vii.29 (422,4) corky arms] Dry, wither’d, husky arms.
III.vii.54 (424,9) I am ty’d to the stake, and I must stand the course] The running of the dogs upon me.
III.vii.65 (425,2) All cruels else subscrib’d] Yielded, submitted to the necessity of the occasion.
III.vii.99-107 (426,3) I’ll never care what wickedness I do] [This short dialogue I have inserted from the old quarto, because I think it full of nature. Servants could hardly see such a barbarity committed on their master, without pity; and the vengeance that they presume canst overtake the actors of it is a sentiment and doctrine well worthy of the stage. THEOBALD.] It is not necessary to suppose them the servants of Glo’ster; for Cornwall was opposed to extremity by his own servant.
IV.i.1 (427,1) Yet better thus, and known to be contemn’d] The meaning is, ‘Tis better to be thus contemned, and known to yourself to be contemned. Or perhaps there is an error, which may be rectified thus:
Yet better thus unknown to be contemn’d.
When a man divests himself of his real character he feels no pain from contempt, because he supposes it incurred only by a voluntary disguise which he can throw off at pleasure. I do not think any correction necessary.
IV.i.20 (429,3) Our mean secures us] [i.e. Moderate, mediocre condition. WARBURTON.] Banner writes, by an easy change, meanness secures us. The two original editions have,
Our meanes secures us.—
I do not remember that mean is ever used aa a substantive for low fortune, which is the sense here required, nor for mediocrity, except in the phrase, the golden mean. I suspect the passage of corruption, and would either read,
Our means seduce us:—
Our powers of body or fortune draw us into evils. Or,
Our maims secure us.—
That hurt or deprivation which makes us defenceless, proves our safeguard. This is very proper in Glo’ster, newly maimed by the evulsion of his eyes.
IV.i.59-64 (431,8) [Five fiends have been in poor Tom at once; of lust, as Obidicut; Hobbididance, prince of dumbness; Mahu, of stealing; Modo, of murder; and Flibbertigibbet, of mopping and mowing; who since possesses chamber-maids and waiting-women. So bless thee, master!]] The passage in crotchets is omitted in the folio, because I suppose as the story was forgotten, the jest was lost.
IV.i.68 (432,1) Let the superfluous and lust-dieted man] Lear has before uttered the same sentiment, which indeed cannot be too strongly impressed, tho’ it may be too often repeated.
IV.i.69 (432,2) That slaves your ordinance] [W: braves] The emendation is plausible, yet I doubt whether it be right. The language of Shakespeare is very licentious, and his words have often meanings remote from the proper and original use. To slave orbeslave another is to treat him with terms of indignity; in a kindred sense, to slave the ordinance, may be, to slight or ridicule it.
IV.ii.1 (433,1) our mild husband] It must be remembered that Albany, the husband of Gonerill, disliked, in the end of the first act, the scheme of oppression and ingratitude.
IV.ii.29 (434,5) I have been worth the whistle] This expression is a reproach to Albany for having neglected her; though you disregard me thus, I have been worth the whistle, I have found one that thinks me worth calling. (1773)
IV.ii.35 (435,9) From her maternal sap] [W: material] I suppose no reader doubts but the word should be maternal. Dr. Warburton has taken great pains without much success, and indeed without much exactness of attention, to prove that material has a more proper sense than maternal, and yet seemed glad at last to infer from an apparent error of another press that material and maternal meant the same.
IV.ii.45 (436,2) A man, a prince by him so benefited?] [After this line I suspect a line or two to be wanting, which upbraids her for her sister’s cruelty to Glo’ster. WARBURTON.] Here is a pompous note to support a conjecture apparently erroneous, and confuted by the next scene, in which the account is given for the first time to Albany of Glo’ster’s sufferings.
IV.ii.50 (436,3) Like monsters of the deep] Fishes are the only animals that are known to prey upon their own species.
IV.ii.62 (437,5) Thou changed, and self-cover’d thing] Of these lines there is but one copy, and the editors are forced open conjecture. They have published this line thus;
Thou chang’d, and self-converted thing;
but I cannot but think that by self-cover’d the author meant, thou that hast disguised nature by wickedness; thou that hast hid the woman under the fiend.
IV.ii.83 (438,6) One way, I like this well] Gonerill is well pleased that Cornwall is destroyed, who was preparing war against her and her husband, but is afraid of losing Edmund to the widow.
IV.iii (439,1) The French camp, near Dover. Enter Kent, and a Gentleman] This scene seems to have been left out only to shorten the play, and is necessary to continue the action. It is extant only in the quarto, being omitted in the first folio. I have therefore put it between crotchets.
IV.iii (439,2) a Gentleman] The gentleman whom he sent in the foregoing act with letters to Cordelia.
IV.iii.26 (440,4) Made she no verbal question?] I do not see the impropriety of verbal question; such pleonasms are common. So we say, my ears have heard, my eyes have beheld. Besides, where is the word quest [Warburton’s emendation] to be found?
IV.iii.33 (440,6) And clamour-moisten’d] Clamour moisten’d her; that is, her out-cries were accompanied with tears.
IV.iii.36 (441,7) one self-mate and mate] The same husband and the same wife.
IV.iii.51 (441,9) ‘Tis so they are a-foot] Dr. Warburton thinks it necessary to read, ’tis said; but the sense is plain, So it is that they are on foot.
IV.iv.4 (442,1) With bur-docks, hemlock] I do not remember any such plant as a hardock, but one of the most common weeds is a burdock, which I believe should be read here; and so Hanmer reads.
IV.iv.20 (443,2) the means to lead it] The reason which should guide it.
IV.iv.26 (443,3) My mourning and important tears hath pitied] In other places of this author for importunate.
IV.iv.27 (443,4) No blown embition] No inflated, no swelling pride. Beza on the Spanish Armada:
“Quem bene te ambitio mersit vanissima, ventus,
Et tumidos tumidae voa superastis aquae.”
IV.v.4 (444,1) Reg. Lord Edmund spake not with your lady at home?] The folio reads, your lord; but lady is the first and better reading.
IV.v.22 (444,3) Let me unseal the letter./Stew. Madam, I had rather] I know not well why Shakespeare gives the steward, who is a mere factor of wickedness, so much fidelity. He now refuses the letter; and afterwards, when he is dying, thinks only how it may be safely delivered.
IV.v.29 (445,5) I do advise you, take this note] Note means in this place not a letter but a remark. Therefore observe what I am saying.
IV.v.32 (446,6) You may gather more] You may infer more than I have directly told you.
IV.vi (446,1) The country near Dover. Enter Glo’ster, and Edgar as a peasant] This scene, and the stratagem by which Glo’ster is cured of his desperation, are wholly borrowed from Sidney’s Arcadia.
IV.vi.7 (447,2) thy voice is alter’d] Edgar alters his voice in order to pass afterwards for a malignant spirit.
IV.vi.11 (447,5) How fearful/And dizzy ’tis, to cast one’s eyes so low!] This description has been much admired since the time of Addison, who has remarked, with a poor attempt at pleasantry, that “he who can read it without being giddy, has a very good head, or a very bad one.” The description is certainly not mean, but I am far from thinking it wrought to the utmost excellence of poetry. He that looks from a precipice finds himself assailed by one great and dreadful image of irresistible destruction. But this overwhelming idea is dissipated and enfeebled from the instant that the mind can restore itself to the observation of particulars, and diffuse its attention to distinct objects. The enumeration of the choughs and crows, the samphire-man, and the fishers, counteracts the great effect of the prospect, as it peoples the desert of intermediate vacuity, and stops the mind in the rapidity of its descent through emptiness and horror.
IV.vi.19 (447,4) her cock] Her cock-boat.
IV.vi.43 (448,6) when life itself/Yields to the theft] When life is willing to be destroyed.
IV.vi.47 (449,7) Thus might he pass, indeed] Thus he might die in reality. We still use the word passing bell.
IV.vi.53 (449,9) Ten masts at each make not the altitude] [Pope: attacht] Mr. Pope’s conjecture may stand if the word which he uses were known in our author’s time, but I think it is of later introduction. He may say,
Ten masts on end—
IV.vi.57 (449,1) chalky bourn] Bourn seems here to signify a hill. Its common signification is a brook. Milton in Comus uses bosky bourn in the same sense perhaps with Shakespeare. But in both authors it may mean only a boundary.
IV.vi.73 (450,2) the clearest gods] The purest; the most free from evil.
IV.vi.80 (450,3) Bear free and patient thoughts] To be melancholy is to have the mind chained down to one painful idea; there is therefore great propriety in exhorting Glo’ster to free thoughts, to an emancipation of his soul from grief and despair.
IV.vi.81 (450,4) The safer sense will ne’er accommodate/His master thus] [W: sober sense] I read rather,
The saner sense will ne’er accoomodate
His master thus.
“Here is Lear, but he must be mad: his sound or sane senses would never suffer him to be thus disguised.”
IV.vi.87 (451,5) That fellow handles his bow like a crow-keeper] This crow-keeper was so common in the author’s time, that it is one of the few peculiarities mentioned by Ortelius in his account of our island.
IV.vi.93 (451,8) Give the word] Lear supposes himself in a garrison, and before he lets Edgar pass, requires the watch-word.
IV.vi.97 (452,7) Ha! Gonerill!—with a white beard!] So reads the folio, properly; the quarto, whom the later editors have followed, has, Ha! Gonerill, ha! Regan! they flattered me, &c. which is not so forcible.
IV.vi.98 (452,8) They flattered me like a dog] They played the spaniel to me.
IV.vi.121 (453,2) Whose face between her forks] I believe that the forks were two prominences of the ruff rising on each side of the face.
IV.vi.124 (453,4) nor the soyled horse] Soiled horse is probably the same as pampered horse, un cheval soûlé.
IV.vi.169 (454.5) Robes and furr’d gowns hide all] From hide all to accuser’s lips, the whole passage is wanting in the first edition, being added, I suppose, at his revisal.
IV.vi.187 (455,8) This a good block!] I do not see how this block corresponds either with his foregoing or following train of thoughts. Madmen think not wholly at random. I would read thus, a good flock. Flocks are wool moulded together. The sentence then follows properly:
It were a delicate stratagem to shoe
A troop of horse with felt;—
i.e. with flocks kneaded to a mass, a practice I believe sometimes used in former ages, for it is mentioned in Ariosto:
“—Fece nel cader strepito quanto
Avesse avuto sotto i piedi il feltro.”
It is very common for madmen to catch an accidental hint, and strain it to the purpose predominant in their minds. Lear picks up a flock, and immediately thinks to surprize his enemies by a troop of horse shod with flocks or felt. Yet block may stand, if we suppose that the sight of a block put him in mind of mounting his horse.
IV.vi.199 (457,1) Why, this would make a man, a man of salt] Would make a man melt away like salt in wet weather.
IV.vi.206 (457,2) Then there’s life in’t] The case is not yet desperate.
IV.vi.217 (457,3) the main descry/Stands on the hourly thought] The main body is expected to be descry’d every hour. The expression is harsh.
IV.vi.246 (459,7) che vor’ye] I warn you. Edgar counterfeits the western dialect.
IV.vi.281 (460,3) Thee I’ll rake up] I’ll cover thee. In Staffordshire, to rake the fire, is to cover it with fuel for the night.
IV.vi.234 (460,4) the death-practis’d duke] The duke of Albany, whose death is machinated by practice or treason.
IV.vii.3 (461,1) every measure fail me] All good which I shall allot thee, or measure out to thee, will be scanty.
IV.vii.9 (461,4) shortens my made intent] [W: laid] An intent made, is an intent formed. So we say in common language, to make a design, and to make a resolution.
IV.vii.41 (464,2) ‘Tis wonder, that thy life and wits, at once,/Had not concluded all] [W: concluded.—Ah!] The plain construction is this: It is wonder that the wits and life had not all ended.
[Gent. Holds it true, Sir,
That the duke of Cornwall was so slain?]
What is printed in crotchets is not in the folio. It is at least proper, if not necessary; and was omitted by the author, I suppose, for no other reason than to shorten the representation.
V.i.4 (467,2) his constant pleasure] His settled resolution.
V.i.54 (470,7) We will greet the time] We will be ready to meet the occasion.
V.i.61 (470,8) carry out my side] Bring my purpose to a successful issue, to completion. Side seems here to have the sense of the French word partie, in prendre partie, to take his resolution.
V.i.68 (471,9) for my state/Stands on me to defend, not to debate] I do not think that for stands in this place as a word of inference or causality. The meaning is rather: Such is my determination concerning Lear; as for my state it requires now, notdeliberation, but defence and support.
V.iii.16 (472,1) And take upon us the mystery of things,/As if we were God’s spies] As if we were angels commissioned to survey and report the lives of men, and were consequently endowed with the power of prying into the original motives of action and the mysteries of conduct.
V.iii.18 (472,2) packs and sects] Packs is used for combinations or collection, as is a pack of cards. For sects I think sets might be more commodiously read. So we say, affairs are now managed by a new set. Sect, however, may well stand.
V.iii.24 (473,6) flesh and fell] Flesh and skin.
[At this time
We sweat and bleed: the friend hath lost his friend;
And the best quarrels, in the heat, are curs’d
By those that feel their sharpness:—
The question of Cordelia, and her father,
Requires a fitter place.]]
This passage, well worthy of restoration, is omitted in the folio.
V.iii.65 (475,4) The which immediacy] [Immediacy, for representation. WARBURTON.] Immediacy is rather supremacy in opposition to subordination, which has quiddam medium between itself and power.
V.iii.79 (476,7) The lett alone lies not in your good will] Whether he shall not or shall depends not on your choice.
V.iii.89 (476,8) An interlude!] This short exclamation of Gonerill is added in the folio edition, I suppose, only to break the speech of Albany, that the exhibition on the stage might be more distinct and intelligible.
V.iii.129 (478,1) Behold, it is the privilege of mine honours,/My oath, and my profession] The privilege of this oath means the privilege gained by taking the oath administered in the regular initiation of a knight professed.
Alb. Save him, save him!
Gon. This is mere practice, Glo’ster]
He desired that Edmund’s life might be spared at present, only to obtain his confession, and to convict him openly by his own letter.
V.iii.166 (480,6) Let us exchange charity] Our author by negligence gives his heathens the sentiments and practices of Christianity. In Hamlet there is the same solemn act of final reconciliation, but with exact propriety, for the personages are Christians.
V.iii. 204-221 (481,2) [Edg;.—This would have seem’d a period] The lines between crotchets are not in the folio.
V.iii.229 (433,4) Here comes Kent, Sir] The manner in which Edgar here mentions Kent, seems to require the lines which are inserted from the first edition in the foregoing scene.
Edg. Or image of that horror?
Alb. Fall, and cease!]
These two exclamations are given to Edgar and Albany in the folio, to animate the dialogue, and employ all the persons on the stage; but they are very obscure.
V.iii.301 (487,4) With boot] With advantage, with increase.
(488) General Observation. The tragedy of Lear is deservedly celebrated among the dramas of Shakespeare. There is perhaps no play which keeps the attention so strongly fixed; which so much agitates our passions and interests our curiosity. The artful involutions of distinct interests, the striking opposition of contrary characters, the sudden changes of fortune, and the quick succession of events, fill the mind with a perpetual tumult of indignation, pity, and hope. There is no scene which does not contribute to the aggravation of the distress or conduct of the action, and scarce a line which does not conduce to the progress of the scene. So powerful is the current of the poet’s imagination, that the mind, which once ventures within it, is hurried irresistibly along.
On the seeming improbability of Lear’s conduct it may be observed, that he is represented according to histories at that time vulgarly received as true. And, perhaps, if we turn our thoughts upon the barbarity and ignorance of the age to which this story is referred, it will appear not so unlikely as while we estimate Lear’s manners by our own. Such preference of one daughter to another, or resignation of dominion on such conditions, would be yet credible, if told of a petty prince of Guinea or Madagascar. Shakespeare, indeed, by the mention of his earls and dukes, has given us the idea of times more civilized, and of life regulated by softer manners; and the truth is, that though he so nicely discriminates, and so minutely describes the characters of men, he commonly neglects and confounds the characters of ages, by mingling customs ancient and modern, English and foreign.
My learned friend Mr. Warton, who has in the Adventurer very minutely criticised this play, remarks, that the instances of cruelty are too savage and shocking, and that the intervention of Edmund destroys the simplicity of the story. These objections may, I think, be answered, by repeating, that the cruelty of the daughters is an historical fact, to which the poet has added little, having only drawn it into a series by dialogue and action. But I am not able to apologize with equal plausibility for the extrusion of Glo’ster’s eyes, which seems an act too horrid to be endured in dramatic exhibition, and such as must always compel the mind to relieve its distress by incredulity. Yet let it be remembered that our author well knew what would please the audience for which he wrote.
The injury done by Edmund to the simplicity of the action is abundantly recompensed by the addition of variety, by the art with which he is made to co-operate with the chief design, and the opportunity which he gives the poet of combining perfidy with perfidy, and connecting the wicked son with the wicked daughters, to impress this important moral, that villainy is never at a stop, that crimes lead to crimes, and at last terminate in ruin.
But though this moral be incidentally enforced, Shakespeare has suffered the virtue of Cordelia to perish in a just cause, contrary to the natural ideas of justice, to the hope of the reader, and, what is yet more strange, to the faith of chronicles. Yet this conduct is justified by The Spectator, who blames Tate for giving Cordelia success and happiness in his alteration, and declares, that, in his opinion, the tragedy has lost half its beauty. Dennis has remarked, whether justly or not, that, to secure the favourable reception of Cato, the town was poisoned with much false and abominable criticism, and that endeavours had been used to discredit and decry poetical justice. A play in which the wicked prosper, and the virtuous miscarry, may doubtless be good, because it is a just representation of the common events of human life: but since all reasonable beings naturally love justice, I cannot easily be persuaded, that the observation of justice makes a play worse; or, that if other excellencies are equal, the audience will not always rise better pleased from the final triumph of persecuted virtue.
In the present case the public has decided. Cordelia, from the time of Tate, has always retired with victory and felicity. And, if my sensations could add any thing to the general suffrage, I night relate, I was many years ago so shocked by Cordelia’s death, that I know not whether I ever endured to read again the last scenes of the play till I undertook to revise them as an editor.
There is another controversy among the critics concerning this play. It is disputed whether the predominant image in Lear’s disordered mind be the loss of his kingdom or the cruelty of his daughters. Mr. Murphy, a very judicious critic, has evinced by induction of particular passages, that the cruelty of his daughters is the primary source of his distress, and that the loss of royalty affects him only as a secondary and subordinate evil. He observes with great justness, that Lear would move our compassion but little, did we not rather consider the injured father than the degraded king.
The story of this play, except the episode of Edmund, which is derived, I think, from Sidney, is taken originally from Geoffry of Monmouth, whom Hollinshed generally copied; but perhaps immediately from an old historical ballad. My reason for believing that the play was posterior to the ballad, rather than the ballad to the play, is, that the ballad has nothing of Shakespeare’s nocturnal tempest, which is too striking to have been omitted, and that it follows the chronicle; it has the rudiments of the play, but none of its amplifications: it first hinted Lear’s madness, but did not array it in circumstances. The writer of the ballad added something to the history, which is a proof that he would have added more, if more had occurred to his mind, and more must have occurred if he had seen Shakespeare. [Johnson appends “A lamentable SONG of the Death of King Leir and his Three Daughters”]
ROMEO AND JULIET
I.i.82 (9,7) Give me my long sword] The long sword was the sword used in war, which was sometimes wielded with both hands.
As is the bud bit with an envious worm,
Ere he can spread his sweet leaves to the air,
Or dedicate his beauty to the same]
I cannot but suspect that some lines are lost, which connected this simile more closely with the foregoing speech; these lines, if such there were, lamented the danger that Romeo will die of his melancholy, before his virtues or abilities were known to the world.
Alas, that love, whose view is muffled still,
Should, without eyes, see path-ways to his will.]
Sir T. Hanmer, and after him Dr. Warburton, read, to his ill. The present reading has some obscurity; the meaning may be, that love finds out means to pursue his desire. That the blind should find paths to ill is no great wonder.
I.i.183 (13,4) O brawling love! O loving hate!] Of these lines neither the sense nor occasion is very evident. He is not yet in love with an eneny, and to love one and hate another is no such uncommon state, as can deserve all this toil of antithesis.
I.i.192 (14,5) Why, such is love’s transgression] Such is the consequence of unskilful and mistaken kindness. (see 1765, VIII, 12, 2)
1.1.198 (14,6) Being purg’d, a fire sparkling in lovers’ eyes] The author may mean being purged of smoke, but it is perhaps a meaning never given to the word in any other place. I would rather read, Being urged, a fire sparkling. Being excited and inforced. To urge the fire is the technical term.
I.i.199 (14,7) Being vex’d, a sea nourish’d with lovers’ tears] As this line stands single, it is likely that the foregoing or following line that rhym’d to it, is lost.
I.i.206 (14,8) Tell me in sadness] That is, tell me gravely, tell me in seriousness.
I.i.217 (15,1) in strong proof] In chastity of proof, as we say in armour of proof.
O, she is rich in beauty; only poor
That when she dies, with beauty dies her store]
Mr. Theobald reads, “With her dies beauties store;” and is followed by the two succeeding editors. I have replaced the old reading, because I think it at least as plausible as the correction. She is rich, says he, in beauty, and only poor in being subject to the lot of humanity, that her store, or riches, can be destroyed by death, who shall, by the same blow, put an end to beauty.
I.ii.15 (17,2) She is the hopeful lady of my earth] The lady of his earth is an expression not very intelligible, unless he means that she is heir to his estate, and I suppose no man ever called his lands his earth. I will venture to propose a bold change:
She is the hope and stay of my full years.
I.ii.25 (18,3) Earth-treading stars that make dark heaven light] [W: dark even] But why nonsense [Warburton’s comment]? Is any thing mere commonly said, than that beauties eclipse the sun? Has not Pope the thought and the word?
“Sol through white curtains shot a tim’rous ray,
“And spe’d those eyes that must eclipse the day.”
Both the old and the new reading are philosophical nonsense, but they are both, and both equally poetical sense.
I.ii.26 (18,4) Such comfort as do lusty young men feel] To say, and to say in pompous words, that a young man shall feel as much in an assembly of beauties, as young men feel in the month of April, is surely to waste sound upon a very poor sentiment. I read,
Such comfort as do lusty yeomen feel.
You shall feel from the sight and conversation of these ladies, such hopes of happiness and such pleasure, as the farmer receives from the spring, when the plenty of the year begins, and the prospect of the harvest fills him with delight.
Such, amongst view of many, mine, being one.
May stand in number, the’ in reckoning none]
The first of these lines I do not understand. The old folio gives no help; the passage is there, Which one more view. I can offer nothing better than this:
Within your view of many, mine being one,
May stand in number, &c.
I.iii.13 (22,1) to my teen] To my sorrow.
I.iii.66 (24,4) It is an honour] The modern editors all read, it is an honour. I have restored the genuine word [“hour”], which is more seemly from a girl to her mother. Your, fire, and such words as are vulgarly uttered in two syllables, are used as dissyllables by Shakespeare. [The first quarto reads honour; the folio hour. I have chosen the reading of the quarto. STEEVENS.] (rev. 1778, X, 28, 2)
I.iii.92 (25,9) That in gold clasps locks in the golden story] The golden story is perhaps the golden legend, a book in the darker ages of popery much read, and doubtless often exquisitely embellished, but of which Canus, one of the popish doctors, proclaims the author to have been homo ferrei oris, plumbei cordis.
I.iv.6 (27,2) like a crow-keeper] The word crow-keeper is explained in Lear.
I.iv.37 (28,8) for I am proverb’d with a grand-sire phrase] The grandsire phrase is—The black ox has trod upon my foot.
I.iv.42 (30,1) Or (save your reverence) love] The word or obscures the sentence; we ahould read O! for or love. Mercutio having called the affection vith which Romeo was entangled by so disrespectful a word as mire, cries out,
O! save your reverence, love.
I.iv.84 (34,7) Spanish blades] A sword is called a toledo, from the excellence of the Toletan steel. So Gratius,
“Unda Tagi non est alie celebranda metallo,
Utilis in cives est ibi lamna sues.”
I.iv.113 (35,9) Direct my sail:] [I have restored this reading from the elder quarto, as being more congruous to the metaphor in the preceding line. Suit is the reading of the folio. STEEVENS.]
Direct my suit! Guide the sequel of the adventure.
You are welcome, gentlemen. Come musicians, play.
A ball! a ball! Give room. And foot it, girls]
These two lines, omitted by the modern editors, I have replaced from the folio.
I.v.32 (37, 6) good cousin Capulet] This cousin Capulet is unkle in the paper of invitation; but as Capulet is described as old, cousin is probably the right word in both places. I know not how Capulet and his lady might agree, their ages were very disproportionate; he has been past masking for thirty years, and her age, as she tells Juliet, is but eight-and-twenty.
II.Prologue (42,3) Enter CHORUS] The use of this chorus is not easily discovered; it conduces nothing to the progress of the play, but relates what is already known, or what the next scenes will shew; and relates it without adding the improvement of any moral sentiment.
II.ii.1 (45,1) He jests at scars] That is, Mercutio jests, whom he overheard.
II.ii.7 (45,2) Be not her maid] Be not a votary to the moon, to Diana.
It is my lady; O! it is my love;
O, that she knew we were!]
This line and half I have replaced.
II.ii.39 (47,7) Thou art thyself, though not a Montague] I think the true reading is,
Thou art thyself, then not a Montague.
Thou art a being of peculiar excellence, and hast none of the malignity of the family, from which thou hast thy name.—Hanmer reads,
Thour’t not thyself so, though a Montague.
II.iii.15 (53,6) the powerful grace, that lies/In plants] Efficacious virtue.
II.iii.27 (53,7) Two such opposed foes encamp them still] [W: opposed kin] Foes may be the right reading, or kings, but I think kin can hardly be admitted. Two kings are two opposite powers, two contending potentates, in both the natural and moral world. The word encamp is proper to commanders. (see 1765, VIII, 46, 2)
II.iv.20 (57,3) courageous captain of compliments] A complete master of all the laws of ceremony, the principal man in the doctrine of punctilio.
“A man of compliments, whom right and wrong
“Have chose as umpire;”
says our author of Don Armado, the Spaniard, in Love’s Labour Lost.
II.iv.27 (57,6) the hay!] All the terms of the modern fencing-school were originally Italian; the rapier, or small thrusting sword, being first used in Italy. The hay is the word hai, you have it, used when a thrust reaches the antagonist, from which our fencers, on the same occasion, without knowing, I suppose, any reason for it, cry out, ha!
II.iv.35 (58,9) these pardonnez-moy’s] Pardonnez-moi became the language of doubt or hesitation among men of the sword, when the point of honour was grown so delicate, that no other mode of contradiction would be endured.
II.iv.64 (59,3) then is my pump wall flower’d] Here is a vein of wit too thin to be easily found. The fundamental idea is, that Romeo wore pinked pumps, that is, pumps punched with holes in figures.
II.iv.87 (60,7) a wit of cheverel] Cheverel is soft-leather for gloves.
II.iv.138 (62,8) No hare, Sir] Mercutio having roared out, So ho! the cry of the sportsmen when they start a hare; Romeo asks what he has found. And Mercutio answers, No hare, &c. The rest is a series of quibbles unworthy of explanation, which he who does not understand, needs not lament his ignorance.
II.iv.162 (63,1) none of his skains-mates] The word skains-mate, I do not understand, but suppose that skains was some low play, and skains-mate, a companion at such play.
II.iv.200 (64,2) like a tackled stair] Like stairs of rope in the tackle of a ship.
II.iv.222 (65,4) Ah, mocker! that’s the dog’s name. R is for the nonce; I know it begins with another letter] This passage is thus in the old folio. A mocker, that’s the dog’s name. R is for the no, I know it begins with some other letter. In this copy the error is but small. I read, Ah, mocker. that’s the dog’s name. R is for the nonce, I know it begins with another letter. For the nonce, is for some design, for a sly trick.
II.vi.15 (70,2) Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow] He that travels too fast is as long before he comes to the end of his journey, as he that travels slow. Precipitation produces mishap.
III.i.2 (71,1) The day is hot] It is observed, that in Italy almost all assassinations are committed during the heat of summer.
III.i.124 (75,6) This day’s black fate on more days does depend] This day’s unhappy destiny hangs over the days yet to come. There will yet be more mischief.
III.i.141 (78,7) Oh! I am fortune’s fool] I am always running in the way of evil fortune, like the fool in the play. Thou art death’s fool, in Measure for Measure. See Dr. Warburton’s note.
III.i.153 (77,8) as thou art true] As thou art just and upright.
III.i.159 (77,9) How nice the quarrel] How slight, how unimportant, how petty. So in the last act,
The letter was not nice, but full of charge
Of dear import.
III.i.182 (78,2) Affection makes him false] The charge of falshood on Bonvolio, though produced at hazard, is very just. The author, who seems to intend the character of Bonvolio as good, meant perhaps to shew, how the best minds, in a state of faction and discord, are detorted to criminal partiality.
III.i.193 (78,3) I have an interest in your hate’s proceeding: Sir Thomas Hanmer saw that this line gave no sense, and therefore put, by a very easy change,
I have an interest in your heat’s proceeding!
which is undoubtedly better than the old reading which Dr. Warburton has followed; but the sense yet seems to be weak, and perhaps a more licentious correction is necessary. I read therefore,
I had no interest in your heat’s preceding.
This, says the prince, is no quarrel of mine, I had no interest in your former discord; I suffer merely by your private animosity.
III.ii.5 (79,3) Spread thy close curtain, love-performing night,/That run-away’s eyes may wink] [Warburton explained the “run-away” as the “sun”] I am not satisfied with this explanation, yet have nothing better to propose.
III.ii.10 (80,4) Come, civil night] Civil is grave, decently solemn.
III.ii.14 (80,5) unmann’d blood] Blood yet unacquainted with man.
III.ii.25 (81,6) the garish sun] Milton had this speech in his thoughts when he wrote Il Penseroso.
“Thou sober-suited matron.”—Shakespeare.
“Till civil-suited morn appear.”—Milton.
“Pay no worship to the gairish sun.”—Shakespeare.
“Hide me from day’s gairish eye.”—Milton.
III.ii.46 (82,7) the death-darting eye of cockatrice] [The strange lines that follow here in the common books are not in the old edition. POPE.] The strange lines are these:
I am not I, if there be such an I,
Or these eyes shot, that makes thee answer I;
If he be slain, say I; or if not, no;
Brief sounds determine of my weal or woe.
These lines hardly deserve emendatien; yet it may be proper to observe, that their meanness has not placed them below the malice of fortune, the two first of them being evidently transposed; we should read,
—That one vowel I shall poison more,
Than the death-darting eye of cockatrice,
Or these eyes shot, that make thee answer, I.
I am not I, &c.
III.ii.114 (85,9) Hath slain ten thousand Tybalts] Hath put Tybalt out of my mind, as if out of being.
III.ii.120 (85,1) Which modern lamentation might have mov’d] This line is left out of the later editions, I suppose because the editors did not remember that Shakespeare uses modern for common, or slight: I believe it was in his time confounded in colloquial language with moderate.
Unseemly woman in a seeming man!
And ill-beseeming beast in seeming both!]
[W: seeming groth] The old reading is probable. Thou art a beast of ill qualities, under the appearance both of a woman and a man.
III.iii.135 (90,5) And thou dismember’d with thine own defence] And thou torn to pieces with thy own weapons.
III.iii.166-168 (91,6) Go hence. Good night] These three lines are omitted in all the modern editions.
III.iii.166 (91,7) here stands all your state] The whole of your fortune depends on this.
III.iv.12 (92,9) Sir Paris, I will make a desperate tender/Of my child’s love] Desperate means only bold, advent’rous, as if he had said in the vulgar phrase, I will speak a bold word, and venture to promise you my daughter.
III.v.20 (94,1) ‘Tis but the pale reflex of Cynthia’s brow] The appearance of a cloud opposed to the moon.
III.v.23 (94,2) I have more care to stay, than will to go] Would it be better thus, I have more will to stay, than care to go?
III.v.31 (94,3) Some say, the lark and loathed toad chang’d eyes] This tradition of the toad and lark I hare heard expressed in a rustick rhyme,
—to heav’n I’d fly,
But the toad beguil’d me of my eye.
Since arm from arm that voice doth us affray,
Hunting thee hence with huntaup to the day]
These two lines are omitted in the modern editions, and do not deserve to be replaced, but as they may shew the danger of critical temerity. Dr. Warburton’s change of I would to I wot was specious enough, yet it it is evidently erroneous. The sense is this, The lark, they say, has lost her eyes to the toad, and now I would the toad had her voice too, since she uses it to the disturbance of lovers.
Jul. Ay, Madam, from the reach of these my hands:
‘Would, none but I might venge my cousin’s death.!]
Juliet’s equivocations are rather too artful for a mind disturbed by the loss of a new lover.
III.v.91 (98,4) That shall bestow on hin so sure a draught] [Thus the elder quarto, which I have followed in preference to the quarto 1609, and the folio 1623, which read, less intelligibly,
“Shall give him such an unaccustom’d dram.” STEEVENS.]
—unaccustomed dram.] In vulgar language, Shall give him a dram which he is not used to. Though I have, if I mistake not, observed, that in old books unaccustomed signifies wonderful, powerful, efficacious.
III.v.112 (98,6) in happy time] A la bonne heure. This phrase was interjected, when the hearer was not quite so well pleased as the speaker.
III.v.227 (103,3) As living here] Sir T. HANMER reads, as living hence; that is, at a dsitance, in banishment; but here may signify, in this world.
IV.i.3 (104,1) And I am nothing alow to slack his haste] His haste shall not be abated by my slowness. It might be read,
And I an nothing slow to back his haste:
that is, I am diligent to abet and enforce his haste.
Par. Happily met, my lady and my wife!
Jul. That may be, Sir, when I may be a wife]
As these four first lines seem intended to rhyme, perhaps the author wrote thus:
—my lady and my life!
IV.i.62 (106,3) this bloody knife/Shall play the umpire] That is, this knife shall decide the struggle between me and my distress.
IV.i.64 (106,4) commission of thy years and art] Commission is for authority or power.
Or chain me to some sleepy mountain’s top,
Where rearing bears and savage lions roam;
Or shut me nightly in a charnel house]
[Or walk in thievish ways, or bid me lurk
Where serpents are; chain me with rearing bears,
Or hide me nightly, &c.
It is thus the editions vary. POPE.] my edition has the words which Mr. Pope has omitted; but the old copy seems in this place preferable; only perhaps we might better read,
Where savage bears and rearing lions roam.
IV.i.119 (108,8) If no unconstant toy] If no fickle freak, no light caprice, no change of fancy, hinder the performance.
IV.ii.38 (110,2) We shall be short] That is, we shall be defective.
IV.iii.3 (110,3) For I have need of many orisons] Juliet plays most of her pranks under the appearance of religion: perhaps Shakespeare meant to punish her hypocrisy.
IV.iii.46 (112,6) Alas, alas! it is not like that I] This speech is confused, and inconsequential, according to the disorder of Juliet’s mind.
IV.iv.4 (113,1) The curfeu bell] I knew not that the morning-bell is called the curfeu in any other place.
IV.iv.107 (119,9) O, play me some merry dump] This is not in the folio, but the answer plainly requires it.
V.i (121,1) ACT V. SCENE I. MANTUA] The acts are here properly enough divided, nor did any better distribution than the editors have already made, occur to me in the perusal of this play; yet it may not be improper to remark, that in the first folio, and I suppose the foregoing editions are in the same state, there is no division of the acts, and therefore some future editor may try, whether any improvement can be made, by reducing them to a length more equal, or interrupting the action at more proper intervals.
V.i.1 (121,2) If I may trust the flattering truth of sleep] The sense is, If I may only trust the honesty of sleep, which I know however not to be so nice as not often to practise flattery.
My bosom’s lord sits lightly on his throne;
And all this day an unaccustom’d spirit
Lifts me above the ground with chearful thoughts]
These three lines are very gay and pleasing. But why does Shakespeare give Romeo this involuntary cheerfulness just before the extremity of unhappiness? Perhaps to shew the vanity of trusting to these uncertain and casual exaltations or depressions, which many consider as certain foretokens of good and evil.
V.i.45 (123,6) A beggarly account of empty boxes] Dr. Warburton would read, a braggartly account; but beggarly is probably right: if the boxes were empty, the account was more beggarly, as it was more pompous.
V.iii.31 (127,1) a ring that I must use/In dear employment] That is, action of importance. Gems were supposed to have great powers and virtues.
V.iii.86 (129,4) her beauty makes/This vault a feasting presence full of light] A presence is a public room.
V.iii.90 (129,5) O, how may I/Call this a lightning?] I think we should read,
—O, now may I
Call this a lightning!—
Raise up the Montagues.—Some others; search:—
We see the ground whereon these woes do lie;
But the true ground of all these piteous woes
We cannot without circumstance descry]
Here seems to be a rhyme intended, which may be easily restored;
“Raise up the Montagues. Some others, go.
“We see the ground whereon these woes do lie,
“But the true ground of all this piteous woe
“We cannot without circumstance descry.”
V.iii.194 (136,2) What fear is this, which startles in our ears?] [Originally your ears] Read,
“What fear is this, which startles in our ears?
V.iii.229 (138,6) Fri. I will be brief] It is much to be lamented, that the poet did not conclude the dialogue with the action, and avoid a narrative of events which the audience already knew.
(141) General Observation. This play is one of the most pleasing of our author’s performances. The scenes are busy and various, the incidents numerous and important, the catastrophe irresistibly affecting, and the process of the action carried on with such probability, at least with such congruity to popular opinions, as tragedy requires.
Here is one of the few attempts of Shakespeare to exhibit the conversation of gentlemen, to represent the airy sprightliness of juvenile elegance. Mr. Dryden mentions a tradition, which might easily reach his time, of a declaration made by Shakespeare, that he was obliged to kill Mercutio in the third act, lest he should have been killed by him. Yet he thinks him no such formidable person, but that he might have lived through the play, and died in his bed, without danger to a poet. Dryden well knew, had he been in quest of truth, that, in a pointed sentence, more regard is commonly had to the words than the thought, and that it is very seldom to be rigorously understood. Mercutio’s wit, gaiety, and courage, will always procure him friends that wish him a longer life; but his death is not precipitated, he has lived out the time allotted him in the construction of the play; nor do I doubt the ability of Shakespeare to have continued his existence, though some of his sallies are perhaps out of the reach of Dryden; whose genius was not very fertile of merriment, nor ductile to humour, but acute, argumentative, comprehensive, and sublime.
The Nurse is one of the characters in which the author delighted: he has, with great subtilty of distinction, drawn her at once loquacious and secret, obsequious and insolent, trusty and dishonest.
His comic scenes are happily wrought, but his pathetic strains are always polluted with some unexpected depravations. His persons, however distressed, have a conceit left them in their misery, a miserable conceit.
(145,2) This play is printed both in the folio of 1623, and in the quarto of 1637, more correctly, than almost any other of the works of Shakespeare.
I.i.29 (147,7) approve our eyes] Add a new testimony to that of our eyes.
I.i.33 (147,8) What we two nights have seen] This line is by Hanmer given to Marcellus, but without necessity.
I.i.63 (149,9) He smote the sledded Polack on the ice] Polack was, in that age, the term for an inhabitant of Poland: Polaque, French. As in a translation of Passeratius’s epitaph on Henry III. of France, published by Camden:
“Whether thy chance or choice thee hither brings,
“Stay, passenger, and wail the best of kings.
“this little stone a great king’s heart doth hold,
“Who rul’d the fickle French and Polacks bold:
“So frail are even the highest earthly things,
“Go, passenger, and wail the hap of kings.” (rev. 1776, I, 174,3)
I.i.65 (149,2) and just at this dead hour] The old reading is, jump at this same hour; same is a kind of correlative to jump; just is in the oldest folio. The correction was probably made by the author.
I.i.68 (149,4) gross and scope] General thoughts, and tendency at large. (1773)
I.i.93 (151,7) And carriage of the articles design’d] Carriage, is import; design’d, is formed, drawn up between them.
I.i.96 (151,8) Of unimproved mettle hot and full] Full of unimproved mettle, is full of spirit not regulated or guided by knowledge or experience.
I.i.100 (151,1) That hath a stomach in’t] Stomach, in the time of our author, was used for constancy, resolution.
I.i.107 (152,3) romage] Tumultous hurry. (1773)
I.i.108-125 (152,3) These, and all other lines confin’d within crotchets throughout this play, are omitted in the folio edition of 1623. The omissions leave the play sometimes better and sometimes worse, and seen made only for the sake of abbreviation.
I.i.109 (152,4) Well may it sort] The cause and the effect are proportionate and suitable. (1773)
I.i.121 (152,7) Was even the like precurse of fierce events] Not only such prodigies have been seen in Rome, but the elements have shewn our countrymen like forerunners and foretokens of violent events. (1773)
I.i.128 (153,1) If thou hast any sound] The speech of Horatio to the spectre is very elegant and noble, and congruous to the common traditions of the causes of apparitions.
Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air,
The extravagant and erring spirit hies
To his confine]
According to the pneumatology of that tine, every element was inhabited by its peculiar order of spirits, who had dispositions different, according to their various places of abode. The meaning therefore is, that all spirits extravagant, wandering out of their element, whether aerial spirits visiting earth, or earthly spirits ranging the air, return to their station, to their proper limits in which they are confined. We might read,
“—And at his warning
“Th’ extravagant and erring spirit hies
“To his confine, whether in sea or air,
“Or earth, or fire. And of, &c.
But this change, tho’ it would smooth the construction, is not necessary, and being unnecessary, should not be made against authority.
I.i.163 (154,5) No fairy takes] No fairy strikes, with lameness or diseases. This sense of take is frequent in this author.
I.ii.37 (156,8) more than the scope/Of these dilated articles allows] More than is comprised in the general design of these articles, which you may explain in a more diffuse and dilated stile. (1773)
The head is not more native to the heart,
The hand more instrumental to the mouth,
Than to the throne of Denmark is thy father]
[W: The blood … Than to the throne] Part of this emendation I have received, but cannot discern why the head is not as much native to the heart, as the blood, that is, natural and congenial to it, born with it, and co-operating with it. The relation is likewise by this reading better preserved, the counsellor being to the king as the head to the heart.
Take thy fair hour, Laertes; time be thine,
And thy best graces spend it at thy will]
I rather think this line is in want of emendation. I read,
—Time is thine,
And my best graces; spend it at thy will.
I.ii.65 (158,2) A little more than kin, and less than kind] Kind is the Teutonick word for child. Hamlet therefore answers with propriety, to the titles of cousin and son, which the king had given him, that he was somewhat more than cousin, and less thanson.
I.ii.67 (159,3) too much i’ the sun] He perhaps alludes to the proverb, Out of heaven’s blessing into the warm sun.
I.ii.70 (159,4) veiled lids] With lowering eyes, cast down eyes. (1773)
I.ii.89 (160,5) your father lost a father;/That father lost, lost his] I do not admire the repetition of the word, but it has so much of our author’s manner, that I find no temptation to recede from the old copies.
I.ii.92 (160,6) obsequious sorrow] Obsequious is here from obsequies, or funeral ceremonies.
I.ii.103 (161,9) To reason most absurd] Reason is here used in its common sense, for the faculty by which we form conclusions from arguments.
I.ii.110 (161,1) And with no less nobility of love] [Nobility, for magnitude. WARBURTON.] Nobility is rather generosity.
I.ii.112 (161,2) Do I impart toward you] I believe impart is, impart myself, communicate whatever I can bestow.
I.ii.125 (162,4) No jocund health] The king’s intemperance is very strongly impressed; every thing that happens to him gives him occasion to drink.
I.ii.163 (164,9) I’ll change that name] I’ll be your servant, you shall be my friend. (1773)
I.ii.164 (164,1) what make you] A familiar phrase for what are you doing.
I.ii.167 (164,2) good Even, Sir] So the copies. Sir Th. Hanmer and Dr. Warburton put it, good morning. The alteration is of no importance, but all licence is dangerous. There is no need of any change. Between the first and eighth scene of this act it is apparent, that a natural day must pass, and how much of it is already over, there is nothing that can determine. The king has held a council. It may now as well be evening as morning.
I.ii.182 (165,3) ‘Would I had met my dearest foe in heaven] Dearest, for direst, most dreadful, most dangerous.
I.ii.192 (165,5) Season your admiration] That is, temper it.
I.ii.204 (166,6) they, distill’d/Almost to jelly with the act of fear,/Stand dumb] [W: th’ effect of] Here is an affectation of subtilty without accuracy. Fear is every day considered as an agent. Fear laid hold on him; fear drove him away. If it were proper to be rigorous in examining trifles, it might be replied, that Shakespeare would write more erroneously, if he wrote by the direction of this critick; they were not distilled, whatever the word may mean, by the effect of fear; for that distillation was itself the effect; fear was the cause, the active cause, that distilled them by that force of operation which we strictly call act involuntary, and power in involuntary agents, but popularly call act in both. But of this too much.
I.iii.15 (169,9) The virtue of his will] Virtue seems here to comprise both excellence and power, and may be explained the pure effect.
I.iii.21 (169,1) The sanity and health of the whole state] [W: safety] HANMER reads very rightly, sanity. Sanctity is elsewhere printed for sanity, in the old edition of this play.
I.iii.32 (170,2) unmaster’d] i.e. licentious. (1773)
I.iii.34 (170,3) keep you in the rear of your affection] That is, do not advance so far as your affection would lead you.
I.iii.49 (170,4) Whilst, like a puft and reckless libertine] [W: Whilest he] The emendation is not amiss, but the reason for it is very inconclusive; we use the same mode of speaking on many occasions. When I say of one, he squanders like a spendthrift, of another, he robbed me like a thief, the phrase produces no ambiguity; it is understood that the one is a spendthrift, and the other a thief.
I.iii.64 (172,7) But do not dull thy palm with entertainment/Of each new-hatch’d, unfledg’d comrade] The literal sense is, Do not make thy palm callous by shaking every man by the hand. The figurative meaning may be, Do not by promiscuous conversation make thy mind insensible to the difference of characters.
I.iii.81 (173,1) my blessing season this in thee!] [Season, for infuse. WARBURTON.] It is more than to infuse, it is to infix it in such a manner as that it never may wear out.
I.iii.83 (173,3) your servants tend] i.e. your servants are waiting for you. (1773)
I.iii.86 (173,4) ‘Tis in my memory lock’d,/And you yourself shall keep the key of it] That is, By thinking on you, I shall think on your lessons.
Tender yourself mere dearly;
Or (not to crack the wind of the poor phrase)
Wronging it thus, you’ll tender me a fool]
I believe the word wronging has reference, not to the phrase, but to Ophelia; if you go on wronging it thus, that is, if you continue to go on thus wrong. This is a mode of speaking perhaps not very grammatical, but very common, nor have the best writers refused it.
To sinner it or saint it,
is in Pope. And Rowe,
—Thus to coy it,
To one who knows you too.
The folio has it,
—roaming it thus,—
That is, letting yourself loose to such improper liberty. But wronging seems to be more proper.
I.iii.112 (175,7) fashion you may call it] She uses fashion for manner, and he for a transient practice.
I.iii.122 (175,8) Set your intreatments] Intreatments here means company, conversation, from the French entrétien.
I.iii.125 (175,9) larger tether] Tether is that string by which an animal, set to graze in grounds uninclosed, is confined within the proper limits. (1773)
I.iii.132 (176,2) I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth,/ Have you so slander any moment’s leisure] [The humour of this is fine. WARBURTON.] Here is another fine passage, of which I take the beauty to be only imaginary. Polonius says, in plain terms, that is, not in language less elevated or embellished than before, but in terms that cannot be misunderstood: I would not have you so disgrace your most idle moments, as not to find better employment for them than lord Hamlet’s conversation.
I.iv.9 (177,3) the swaggering up-spring] The blustering upstart.
I.iv.17 (177,4) This heavy-headed revel, east and west] I should not have suspected this passage of ambiguity or obscurity, had I not found my opinion of it differing from that of the learned critic [Warburton]. I construe it thus, This heavy-headed revel makes us traduced east and west, and taxed of other nations.
I.iv.22 (178,5) The pith and marrow of our attribute] The best and most valuable part of the praise that would be otherwise attributed to us.
I.iv.32 (178,7) fortune’s scar] In the old quarto of 1637, it is
But I think scar is proper.
I.iv.34 (178,8) As infinite as man may undergo] As large as can be accumulated upon man.
I.iv.39-57 (179,2) Angels and ministers of grace defend us!] Hamlet’s speech to the apparition of his father seems to me to consist of three parts. When first he sees the spectre, he fortifies himself with an invocation.
Angel and ministers of grace defend us!
As the spectre approaches, he deliberates with himself, and determines, that whatever it be he will venture to address it.
Be thou a spirit of health, or goblin damn’d,
Bring with thee airs from heaven, or blasts from hell,
Be thy intents wicked or charitable,
Thou com’st in such a questionable shape,
That I will speak to thee. I’ll call thee, &c.
This he says while his father is advancing; he then, as he had determined, speaks to him, and calls him—Hamlet, King, Father, Royal Dane: oh! answer me. (1773)
I.iv.43 (180,4) questionable shape] [By questionable is meant provoking question. HANMER.] So in Macbeth,
Live you, or are you aught
That man may question?
I.iv.46 (180,5) tell,/Why thy canoniz’d bones, hearsed in death,/ Have burst their cearments?] [W: in earth] It were too long to examine this note period by period, though almost every period seems to me to contain something reprehensible. The critic, in his zeal for change, writes with so little consideration, as to say, that Hamlet cannot call his father canonized, because we are told he was murdered with all his sins fresh upon him. He was not then told it, and had so little the power of knowing it, that he was to be told it by an apparition. The long succession of reasons upon reasons prove nothing, but what every reader discovers, that the king had been buried, which is implied by so many adjuncts of burial, that the direct mention of earth is not necessary. Hamlet, amazed at an apparition, which, though in all ages credited, has in all ages been considered as the most wonderful and most dreadful operation of supernatural agency, enquires of the spectre, in the most emphatic terms, why he breaks the order of nature, by returning from the dead; this he asks in a very confused circumlocution, confounding in his fright the soul and body. Why, says he, have thy bones, which with due ceremonies have been intombed in death, in the common state of departed mortals, burst the folds in which they were embalmed? Why has the tomb, in which we saw thee quietly laid, opened his mouth, that mouth which, by its weight and stability, seemed closed for ever? The whole sentence is this: Why dost thou appear, whom we know to be dead?
Had the change of the word removed any obscurity, or added any beauty, it might have been worth a struggle; but either reading leaves the sense the same.
If there be any asperity in this controversial note, it must be imputed to the contagion of peevishneas, or some resentment of the incivility shewn to the Oxford editor, who is represented as supposing the ground canonized by a funeral, when he only meant to say, that the body has deposited in holy ground, in ground consecrated according to the canon.
I.iv.65 (183,9) I do not set my life at a pin’s fee] The value of a pin. (1773)
I.iv.73 (183,1) deprive your sovereignty] I believe deprive in this place signifies simply to take away.
I.iv.77 (184,4) confin’d to fast in fires] I am rather inclined to read, confin’d to lasting fires, to fires unremitted and unconsumed. The change is slight.
I.v.30 (186,7) As meditation or the thoughts of love] The comment [Warburton’s] on the word meditation is so ingenious, that I hope it is just.
I.v.77 (188,6) Unhonsel’d, disappointed, unaneal’d] This is a very difficult line. I think Theobald’s objection to the sense of unaneal’d, for notified by the bell, must be owned to be very strong. I have not yet by my enquiry satisfied myself. Hanmer’s explication of unaneal’d by unprepar’d, because to anneal metals, is to prepare them in manufacture, is too general and vague; there is no resemblance between any funeral ceremony and the practice of annealing metals.
Disappointed is the same as unappointed, and may be properly explained unprepared; a man well furnished with things necessary for any enterprize, was said to be well appointed.
I.v.80 (190,7) Oh, horrible! oh, horrible! most horrible!] It was ingeniously hinted to me by a very learned lady, that this line seems to belong to Hamlet, in whose mouth it is a proper and natural exclamation; and who, according to the practice of the stage, may be supposed to interrupt so long a speech. (1773)
I.v.154 (193,5) Swear by my sword] [Here the poet has preserved the manners of the ancient Danes, with whom it was religion to swear upon their swords. WARBURTON.] I was once inclinable to this opinion, which is likewise well defended by Mr. Upton; but Mr. Garrick produced me a passage, I think, in Brantoms, from which it appeared, that it was common to swear upon the sword, that is, upon the cross which the old swords always had upon the hilt.
II.i.25 (197,8) drinking, fencing, swearing] I suppose, by fencing is meant a too diligent frequentation of the fencing-school, a resort of violent and lawless young men.
II.i.46 (197,4) Good Sir, or so, or friend, or gentleman] [W: sire] I know not that sire was ever a general word of compliment, as distinct from sir; nor do I conceive why any alteration should be made. It is a common mode of colloquial language to use, or so, as a slight intimation of more of the same, or a like kind, that might be mentioned. We might read, but we need not,
Good sir, forsooth, or friend, or gentleman.
Forsooth, a term of which I do not well know the original meaning, was used to men as well as to women.
II.i.71 (198,5) Observe his inclination in yourself] HANMER reads, e’en yourself, and is followed by Dr. Warburton; but perhaps in yourself means, in your own person, not by spies.
II.i.112 (200,7) I had not quoted him] To quote is, I believe, to reckon, to take an account of, to take the quotient or result of a computation.
it as proper to our age
To cast beyond ourselves in our opinions,
As it is common for the younger sort
To lack discretion]
This is not the remark of a weak man. The vice of age is too much suspicion. Men long accustomed to the wiles of life cast commonly beyond themselves, let their cunning go further than reason can attend it. This is always the fault of a little mind, made artful by long commerce with the world.
For the supply and profit of our hope,
Your visitation shall receive such thanks]
That the hope which your arrival has raised may be completed by the desired effect.
II.ii.47 (203,4) the trail of policy] The trail is the course of an animal pursued by the scent.
Il.ii.52 (203,5) My news shall be the fruit of that great feast] The desert after the meat.
II.ii.84 (204,7) at night we’ll feast] The king’s intemperance is never suffered to be forgotten.
II.ii.86-167 (205,8) My liege, and Madam, to expostulate] This account of the character of Polonius, though it sufficiently reconciles the seeming inconsistency of so much wisdom with so much folly, does not perhaps correspond exactly to the ideas of our author. The commentator Warburton makes the character of Polonius, a character only of manners, discriminated by properties superficial, accidental, and acquired. The poet intended a nobler delineation of a mixed character of manners and of nature. Polonius is a man bred in courts, exercised in business, stored with observations, confident of his knowledge, proud of his eloquence, and declining into dotage. His mode of oratory is truly represented as designed to ridicule the practice of those times, of prefaces that made no introduction, and of method that embarrassed rather than explained. This part of his character is accidental, the rest is natural. Such a man is positive and confident, because he knows that his mind was once strong, and knows not that it is become weak. Such a man excels in general principles, but fails in the particular application. He is knowing in retrospect, and ignorant in foresight. While he depends upon his memory, and can draw from his repositories of knowledge, he utters weighty sentences, and gives useful counsel; but as the mind in its enfeebled state cannot be kept long busy and intent, the old man is subject to sudden dereliction of his faculties, he loses the order of his ideas, and entangles himself in his own thoughts, till he recovers the leading principle, and falls again into his former train. This idea of dotage encroaching upon wisdom, will solve all the phaenomena of the character of Polonius.
II.ii.109 (207,1) To the celestial, and my soul’s idol, the most beautified Ophelia] [T: beatified] Both Sir Thomas Hanmer and Dr. Warburton have followed Theobald, but I am in doubt whether beautified, though, as Polonius calls it, a vile phrase, be not the proper word. Beautified seems to be a vile phrase, for the ambiguity of its meaning, (rev. 1778, X, 241, 3)
II.ii.126 (208,2) more above] is, moreover, besides.
II.ii.145 (209,6) she took the fruits of my advice] She took the fruits of advice when she obeyed advice, the advice was then made fruitful.
II.ii.181 (211,9) For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog,/Being a god, kissing carrion] [This is Warburton’s emendation for “a good kissing”] This is a noble emendation, which almost sets the critic on a level with the author.
II.ii.265 (214,2) the shadow of a dream] Shakespeare has accidentally inverted an expression of Pindar, that the state of humanity is the dream of a shadow.
II.ii.269 (215,3) Then are our beggars, bodies] Shakespeare seems here to design a ridicule of these declamations against wealth and greatness, that seem to make happiness consist in poverty.
II.ii.336 (217,7) shall end his part in peace] [After these words the folio adds, the clown shall make those laugh whose lungs are tickled o’ th’ sere. WARBURTON.] This passage I have omitted, for the same reason, I suppose, as the other editors: I do not understand it.
II.ii.338 (217,8) the lady shall say her mind freely, or the blank verse shall halt for’t] The lady shall have no obstruction, unless from the lameness of the verse.
II.ii.346 (217,9) I think, their inhibition comes by the means of the late innovation] I fancy this is transposed: Hamlet enquires not about an inhibition, but an innovation; the answer therefore probably was, I think, their innovation, that is, their new practice of strolling, comes by the means of the late inhibition.
II.ii.352-379 (218,1) Ham. How comes it? do they grow rusty?] The lines marked with commas are in the folio of 1623, but not in the quarto of 1637, nor, I suppose, in any of the quartos.
II.ii.355 (218,2) cry out on the top of question] The meaning seems to be, they ask a common question in the highest notes of the voice.
II.ii.362 (218,3) escoted] Paid.
II.ii.362 (218,4) Will they pursue quality no longer than they can sing?] Will they follow the profession of players no longer than they keep the voices of boys? So afterwards he says to the player, Come, give us a taste of your quality; come, a passionate speech.
II.ii.370 (219,6) to tarre them on to controversy] To provoke any animal to rage, is to tarre him. The word is said to come from the Greek. (1773)
II.ii.380 (219,8) It is not very strange, for mine uncle is king of Denmark] I do not wonder that the new players have so suddenly risen to reputation, my uncle supplies another example of the facility with which honour is conferred upon new claimants.
II.ii.412 (220,2) Buz, buz!] Mere idle talk, the buz of the vulgar.
II.ii.414 (220,3) Then came each actor on his ass] This seems to be a line of a ballad.
II.ii.420 (221,6) For the law of writ, and the liberty, these are the only men] All the modern editions have, the law of wit, and the liberty; but both my old copies have, the law of writ, I believe rightly. Writ, for writing, composition. Wit was not, in our author’s time, taken either for imagination, or acuteness, or both together, but for understanding, for the faculty by which we apprehend and judge. Those who wrote of the human mind distinguished its primary powers into wit and will. Ascham distinguishes boys of tardy and of active faculties into quick wits and slow wits.
II.ii.438 (221,8) the first row of the pious chanson] [It is pons chansons in the first folio edition. POPE.] It is pons chansons in the quarto too. I know not whence the rubric has been brought, yet it has not the appearance of an arbitrary addition. The titles of old ballads were never printed red; but perhaps rubric may stand for marginal explanation.
II.ii.439 (222,9) For, look, where my abridgment comes] He calls the players afterwards, the brief chronicles of the time; but I think he now means only those who will shorten my talk.
II.ii.448 (223,2) be not crack’d within the ring] That is, crack’d too much for use. This is said to a young player who acted the parts of women.
II.ii.450 (223,3) like French faulconers] HANMER, who has much illustrated the allusions to falconry, reads, like French falconers. [French falconers is not a correction by Hanmer, but the reading of the first folio. STEEVENS.] (see 1765, VIII, 198, 1)
II.ii.459 (223,5) (as I received it, and others whose judgment in such matters cried in the top of mine)] [i.e. whose judgment I had the highest opinion of. WARBURTON.] I think it means only that were higher than mine.
II.ii.466 (224,8) but called it, an honest method] Hamlet is telling how much his judgment differed from that of others. One said, there was no salt in the lines, &c. but call’d it an honest method. The author probably gave it, But I called it an honest method, &c.
II.ii.525 (226,9) the mobled queen] Mobled signifies huddled, grossly covered.
II.ii.587 (228,5) the cue for passion] The hint, the direction.
II.ii.589 (228,6) the general ear] The ears of all mankind. So before, Caviare to the general, that is, to the multitude.
II.ii.595 (229,7) unpregnant of my cause] [Unpregnant, for having no due sense of. WARBURTON.] Rather, not quickened with a new desire of vengeance; not teeming with revenge.
II.ii.598 (229,8) A damn’d defeat was made] [Defeat, for destruction. WARBURTON.] Rather, dispossession.
II.ii.608 (229,1) kindless] Unnatural.
II.ii.616 (229,3) About, my brain!] Wits, to your work. Brain, go about the present business.
II.ii.625 (230,5) tent him] Search his wounds.
II.ii.632 (230,7) More relative than this] [Relative, for convictive. WARB.] Convictive is only the consequential sense. Relative is, nearly related, closely connected.
III.i.17 (231,2) o’er-raught on the way] Over-raught is over-reached, that is, over-took.
III.i.31 (232,4) Affront Ophelia.] To affront, is only to meet directly.
III.i.47 (233,5) ‘Tis too much prov’d] It is found by too frequent experience.
III.i.52 (233,6) more ugly to the thing that helps it] That is, compared with the thing that helps it.
III.i.56-88 (233,7) To be, or not to be?] Of this celebrated soliloquy, which bursting from a man distracted with contrariety of desires, and overwhelmed with the magnitude of his own purposes, is connected rather in the speaker’s mind, than on his tongue, I shall endeavour to discover the train, and to shew how one sentiment produces another. Hamlet, knowing himself injured in the most enormous and atrocious degree, and seeing no means of redress, but such as must expose him to the extremity of hazard, meditates on his situation in this manner: Before I can form any rational scheme of action under this pressure of distress, it is necessary to decide, whether, after our present state, we are to be or not to be. That is the question, which, as it shall be answered, will determine, whether ’tis nobler, and more suitable to the dignity of reason, to suffer the outrages of fortune patiently, or to take arms against them, and by opposing end them, though perhaps with the loss of life. If to die, were to sleep, no more, and by a sleep to end the miseries of our nature, such a sleep were devoutly to be wished; but if to sleep in death, be to dream, to retain our powers of sensibility, we must pause to consider, in that sleep of death what dreams may come. This consideration makes calamity so long endured; for who would bear the vexations of life, which might be ended by a bare bodkin, but that he is afraid of something in unknown futurity? This fear it is that gives efficacy to conscience, which, by turning the mind upon this regard, chills the ardour of resolution, checks the vigour of enterprize, and makes the current of desire stagnate in inactivity. We may suppose that he would have applied these general observations to his own case, but that he discovered Ophelia.
III.i.59 (234,8) Or to take arms against a sea of troubles] [W: against assail] Mr. Pope proposed siege. I know not why there should be so much solicitude about this metaphor. Shakespeare breaks his metaphors often, and in this desultory speech there was less need of preserving them.
III.i.70 (235,2) the whips and scorns of time] [W: of th’ time] I doubt whether the corruption of this passage is not more than the editor has suspected. Whips and scorns have no great connexion with one another, or with time: whips and scorns are evils of very different magnitude, and though at all times scorn may be endured, yet the times that put men ordinarily in danger of whips, are rery rare. Falstaff has said, that the courtiers would whip him with their quick wits; but I know not that whip can be used for a scoff or insult, unless its meaning be fixed by the whole expression.
I am afraid lest I should venture too far in correcting this passage. If whips be retained, we may read,
For who would bear the whips and scorns of tyrant.
But I think that quip, a sneer, a sarcasm, a contemptuous jest, is the proper word, as suiting very exactly with scorn. What then must be done with time? it suits no better with the new reading than with the old, and tyrant is an image too bulky and serious. I read, but not confidently,
For who would bear the quips and scorns of title.
It say be remarked, that Hamlet, in his enumeration of miseries, forgets, whether properly or not, that he is a prince, and mentions many evils to which inferior stations only are exposed.
III.i.77 (236,4) To groan and sweat] All the old copies have, to grunt and sweat. It is undoubtedly the true reading, but can scarcely be borne by modern ears.
III.i.89 (237,5) Nymph, in thy orisons] This is a touch of nature. Hamlet, at the sight of Ophelia, does not immediately recollect, that he is to personate madness, but makes her an address grave and solemn, such as the foregoing meditation excited in his thoughts.
III.i.107 (237,6) That if you be honest and fair, you should admit no discourse to your beauty] This is the reading of all the modern editions, and is copied from the quarto. The folio reads, your honesty should admit no discourse to your beauty. The true reading seems to be this, If you be honest and fair, you should admit your honesty to no discourse with your beauty. This is the sense evidently required by the process of the conversation.
III.i.127 (238,7) I have thoughts to put them in] To put a thing into thought, is to think on it.
III.i.148 (239,8) I have heard of your paintings too, well enough] This is according to the quarto; the folio, for painting, has prattlings, and for face, has pace, which agrees with what follows, you jig, you amble. Probably the author wrote both. I think the common reading best.
III.i.152 (239,9) make your wantonness your ignorance] You mistake by wanton affectation, and pretend to mistake by ignorance.
III.i.161 (239,2) the mould of form] The model by whom all endeavoured to form themselves.
III.ii.12 (241,3) the groundlings] The meaner people then seem to have sat below, as they now sit in the upper gallery, who, not well understanding poetical language, were sometimes gratified by a mimical and mute representation of the drama, previous to the dialogue.
III.ii.14 (242,4) inexplicable dumb shews] I believe the meaning is, shews, without words to explain them.
III.ii.26 (242,6) the very age and body of the time, his form and pressure] The age of the time can hardly pass. May we not read, the face and body, or did the author write, the page? The page suits well with form and pressure, but ill with body.
III.ii.28 (242,7) pressure] Resemblance, as in a print.
III.ii.34 (242,8) (not to speak it profanely)] Profanely seems to relate, not to the praise which he has mentioned, but to the censure which he is about to utter. Any gross or indelicate language was called profane.
III.ii.66 (243,9) the pregnant hinges of the knee] I believe the sense of pregnant in this place is, quick, ready, prompt.
III.ii.68 (244,1) my dear soul] Perhaps, my clear soul.
III.ii.74 (244,2) Whose blood and judgment] According to the doctrine of the four humours, desire and confidence were seated in the blood, and judgment in the phlegm, and the due mixture of the humours made a perfect character.
III.ii.89 (244,3) Vulcan’s stithy] Stithy is a smith’s anvil.
III.ii.103 (245,4) nor mine now] A man’s words, says the proverb, are his own no longer than he keep them unspoken.
III.ii.112 (245,5) they stay upon your patience] May it not be read more intelligibly, They stay upon your pleasure. In Macbeth it is, “Noble Macbeth, we stay upon your leisure.”
III.ii.123 (245,6) Do you think I meant country matters?] I think we must read, Do you think I meant country manners? Do you imagine that I meant to sit in your lap, with such rough gallantry as clowns use to their lasses?
III.ii.137 (246,7) Nay, then, let the devil wear black, for I’ll have a suit of sables] I know not why our editors should, with such implacable anger, persecute our predecessors. The dead, it is true, can make no resistance, they may be attacked with great security; but since they can neither feel nor mend, the safety of mauling them seems greater than the pleasure; nor perhaps would it much misbeseem us to remember, amidst our triumphs over the nonsensical and the senseless, that we likewise are men; that debemur morti, and, as Swift observed to Burnet, shall soon be among the dead ourselves.
I cannot find how the common reading is nonsense, nor why Hamlet, when he laid aside his dress of mourning, in a country where it was bitter cold, and the air was nipping and eager, should not have a suit of sables. I suppose it is well enough known, that the fur of sables is not black.
III.ii.147 (249,1) Marry, this is miching maliche; it means mischief] [W: malhechor] I think Hanmer’s exposition most likely to be right. Dr. Warburton, to justify his interpretation, must write, miching for malechor, and even then it will be harsh.
III.ii.167 (250,3) sheen] Splendor, lustre.
III.ii.177 (250,4) For women fear too much, even as they love] Here seems to be a line lost, which should have rhymed to love.
III.ii.192 (251,6) The instances, that second marriage move] The motives.
Most necessary ’tis, that we forget
To pay ourselves what to ourselves is debt]
The performance of a resolution, in which only the resolver is interested, is a debt only to himself, which he may therefore remit at pleasure.
The violence of either grief or joy,
Their own enactures with themselves destroy]
What grief or joy enact or determine in their violence, is revealed in their abatement. Enactures is the word in the quarto; all the modern editions have enactors.
III.ii.229 (252,9) An anchor’s cheer in prison be my scope] May my whole liberty and enjoyment be to live on hermit’s fare in a prison. Anchor is for anchoret.
III.ii.250 (253,1) Baptista] Baptista is, I think, in Italian, the name always of a man.
III.ii.262 (254,4) So you must take your husbands] Read, So you must take your husbands [in place of “mistake”]; that is, for better, for worse.
III.ii.288 (255,5) with two provencial roses on my rayed shoes] When shoe-strings were worn, they were covered, where they met in the middle, by a ribband, gathered into the form of a rose. So in an old song,
Gil-de-Roy was a bonny boy,
Had roses tull his shoen.
Rayed shoes, are shoes braided in lines.
III.ii.304 (256,1) For if the king like not the comedy/Why, then, belike] Hamlet was going on to draw the consequence when the courtiers entered.
III.ii.314 (256,2) With drink, Sir?] Hamlet takes particular care that his uncle’s love of drink shall not be forgotten.
III.ii.346 (257,3) further trade] Further business; further dealing.
III.ii.348 (257,4) by these pickers] By these hands.
III.ii.373 (258,6) ventages] The holes of a flute.
III.ii.401 (259,9) they fool me to the top of my bent] They compel me to play the fool, till I can endure to do it no longer.
III.iii.7 (261,4) Out of his lunes] [The old quartos read,
Out of his brows.
This was from the ignorance of the first editors; as is this unnecessary Alexandrine, which we owe to the players. The poet, I am persuaded, wrote,
—us doth hourly grow
out of his lunes.
i.e. his madness, frenzy. THEOBALD.]
Lunacies is the reading of the folio.
I take brows to be, properly read, frows, which, I think, is a provincial word for perverse humours; which being, I suppose, not understood, was changed to lunacies. But of this I an not confident. [Steevens adopted Theobald’s emendation]
III.iii.33 (262,7) of vantage] By some opportunity of secret observation.
III.iii.56 (263,9) May one be pardon’d, and retain the offence?] He that does not amend what can be amended, retains his offence. The king kept the crown from the right heir.
III.iii.66 (263,1) Yet what can it, when one cannot repent?] What can repentance do for a man that cannot be penitent, for a man who has only part of penitence, distress of conscience, without the other part, resolution of amendment.
III.iii.77 (264,1) I, his sole son, do this same villain send] The folio reads foule son, a reading apparently corrupted from the quarto. The meaning is plain. I, his only son, who am bound to punish his murderer.
III.iii.88 (264,2) Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent] [T: bent] This reading is followed by Sir T. HANMER and Dr. WARBURTON; but hent is probably the right vord. To hent is used by Shakespeare for, to seize, to catch, to lay hold on.Hent is, therefore, hold, or seizure. Lay hold on him, sword, at a more horrid time.
III.iii.94 (265,3) his soul may be as damn’d and black/As hell, whereto it goes] This speech, in which Hamlet, represented as a virtuous character, is not content vith taking blood for blood, but contrives damnation for the man that he would punish, is too horrible to be read or to be uttered.
III.iv.4 (266,4) I’ll silence me e’en here:/Pray you, be round vith him] Sir T. HANMER, who is folloved by Dr. WARBURTON, reads,
—I’ll sconce me here.
Retire to a place of security. They forget that the contrivance of Polonius to overhear the conference, was no more told to the queen than to Hamlet.—I’ll silence me even here, is, I’ll use no more words.
Heaven’s face doth glow;
Yea, this solidity and compound mass,
With tristful visage, as against the doom,
It thought-sick at the act]
[W: O’er this … visage, and, as ‘gainst] The word heated [from the “old quarto”], though it agrees well enough with glow, is, I think, not so striking as tristful, which was, I suppose, chosen at the revisal. I believe the whole passage now stands as the author gave it. Dr. WARBURTON’s reading restores two improprieties, which Shakespeare, by his alteration, had removed. In the first, and in the new reading: Heaven’s face glows with tristful visage; and, Heaven’s face is thought-sick. To the common reading there is no just objection.
III.iv.52 (268,9) what act,/That roars so loud, and thunders in the index?] The meaning is, What is this act, of which the discovery, or mention, cannot be made, but with this violence of clamour?
III.iv.82 (270,5) Rebellious hell,/If thou canst mutiny in a matron’s bones] I think the present reading right, but cannot admit that HANMER’s emendation [“Rebellious heat”] produces nonsense. May not what is said of heat, be said of hell, that it will mutiny wherever it is quartered? Though the emendation be elegant, it is not necessary. (1773)
III.iv.88 (271,6) reason panders will] So the folio, I think rightly; but the reading of the quarto is defensible;
—reason pardons will.
III.iv.90 (271,7) grained] Dyed in grain.
III.iv.92 (271,8) incestuous bed] The folio has enseamed, that is, greasy bed.
III.iv.98 (271,9) vice of kings!] a low mimick of kings. The vice is the fool of a farce; from whom the modern punch is descended.
III.iv.102 (272,2) A king of shreds and patches] This is said, pursuing the idea of the vice of kings. The vice was dressed as a fool, in a coat of party-coloured patches.
III.iv.107 (272,3) lap’s in time and passion] That, having suffered time to slip, and passion to cool, lets go, &c.
III.iv.151 (274,6) And do not spread the compost on the weeds/To make them ranker] Do not, by any new indulgence, heighten your former offences.
III.iv.155 (274,7) curb] That is, bend and truckle. Fr. courber.
III.iv.161 (274,8) That monster custom, who all sense doth eat/ Of habits evil, is angel yet in this] [Thirlby: habits evil] I think THIRLBY’s conjecture wrong, though the succeeding editors have followed it; angel and devil are evidently opposed. [Steevens accepted “evil”]
III.iv.203 (277,5) adders fang’d] That is, adders with their fangs, or poisonous teeth, undrawn. It has been the practice of mountebanks to boast the efficacy of their antidotes by playing with vipers, but they first disabled their fangs.
IV.i (278,l) A royal apartment. Enter King, Queen, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern] This play is printed in the old editions without any separation of the acts. The division is modern and arbitrary; and is here not very happy, for the pause is made at a time when there is more continuity of action than in almost any other of the scenes.
IV.i.18 (278,2) out of haunt] I would rather read, out of harm.
his very madness, like some ore
among a mineral of metals base,
Shews itself pure]
Shakespeare seems to think ore to be or, that is, gold. Base metals have ore no less than precious.
IV.ii.19 (281,5) he keeps them, like an ape, in the corner of his jaw] The quarto has apple, which is generally followed. The folio has ape, which HANMER has received, and illustrated with the following note.
“It is the way of monkeys in eating, to throw that part of their food, which they take up first, into a pouch they are provided with on the side of their jaw, and then they keep it, till they have done with the rest.”
IV.ii.28 (281,6) The body is with the king] This answer I do not comprehend. Perhaps it should be, The body is not with the king, for the king is not with the body.
IV.ii.32 (282,7) Of nothing] Should it not be read, Or nothing? When the courtiers remark, that Hamlet has contemptuously called the king a thing, Hamlet defends himself by observing, that the king must be a thing, or nothing.
IV.ii.46 (283,9) the wind at help] I suppose it should be read, The bark is ready, and the wind at helm.
IV.ii.68 (284,3) And thou must cure me: till I know ’tis done,/ Howe’er my haps, my joys will ne’er begin] This being the termination of a scene, should, according to our author’s custom, be rhymed. Perhaps he wrote,
Howe’er my hopes, my joys are not begun.
If haps be retained, the meaning will be, ’till I know ’tis done, I shall be miserable, whatever befall me (see 1785, VIII, 257, 3)
What is a man,
If his chief good and market of his time
Be but to sleep and feed?]
If his highest good, and that for which he sells his time, be to sleep and feed.
IV.iv.36 (286,5) large discourse] Such latitude of comprehension, such power of reviewing the past, and anticipating the future.
IV.iv.53 (286,6) Rightly to be great,/Is not to stir without great argument] This passage I have printed according to the copy. Mr. THEOBALD had regulated it thus:
—‘Tis not to be great,
Never to stir without great argument;
But greatly, &c.
The sentiment of Shakespeare is partly just, and partly romantic.
—Rightly to be great,
Is not to stir without great argument;
is exactly philosophical.
But greatly to find quarrel in a straw,
When honour is at stake,
is the idea of a modern hero. But then, says he honour is an argument, or subject of debate, sufficiently great, and when honour is at stake, we must find cause of quarrel in a straw.
IV.iv.56 (287,7) Excitements of my reason and my blood] Provocations which excite both my reason and my passions to vengeance.
IV.v.37 (289,4) Larded all with sweet flowers] The expression is taken from cookery. (1773)
IV.v.53 (290,6) And dupt the chamber-door] To dup, is to do up; to lift the latch. It were easy to write,
IV.v.58 (290,7) By Gis] I rather imagine it should be read,
That is, by St. Cecily.
IV.v.83 (291,8) but greenly] But unskilfully; with greenness; that is, without maturity of judgment.
IV.v.84 (291,9) In hugger-mugger to inter him] All the modern editions that I have consulted give it,
In private to inter him;—
That the words now replaced are better, I do not undertake to prove; it is sufficient that they are Shakespeare’s: if phraseology is to be changed as words grow uncouth by disuse, or gross by vulgarity, the history of every language will be lost; we shall no longer have the words of any author; and, as these alterations will be often unskilfully made, we shall in time have very little of his meaning.
IV.v.89 (292,1) Feeds on his wonder] The folio reads,
Keeps on his wonder,—
Feeds on this wonder.—
Thus the true reading is picked out from between them. HANMER reads unnecessarily,
Feeds on his anger.—
IV.v.92 (292,2) Wherein necessity, of matter beggar’d,/ Will nothing stick our persons to arraign] HANMER reads,
Whence animosity, of matter beggar’d.
He seems not to have understood the connection. Wherein, that is, in which pestilent speeches, necessity, or, the obligation of an accuser to support his charge, will nothing stick, &c.
IV.v.99 (293,4) The ocean, over-peering of his list] The lists are the barriers which the spectators of a tournament must not pass.
IV.v.105 (293,5) The ratifiers and props of every ward] [W: ward] With this emendation, which was in Theobald’s edition, Hanmer was not satisfied. It is indeed harsh. HANMER transposes the lines, and reads,
They cry, “Chuse we Laertes for our king;”
The ratifiers and props of every word,
Caps, hands, and tongues, applaud it to the clouds.
I think the fault may be mended at less expence, by reading,
Antiquity forgot, custom not known,
The ratifiers and props of every weal.
That is, of every government.
IV.v.110 (294,6) Oh, this is counter, you false Danish dogs] Hounds run counter when they trace the trail backwards.
Nature is fine in loves and, where ’tis fine,
It sends some precious instance of itself
After the thing it loves]
These lines are not in the quarto, and might hare been omitted in the folio without great loss, for they are obscure and affected; but, I think, they require no emendation. Love (says Laertes) is the passion by which nature is most exalted and refined; and as substances refined and subtilised, easily obey any impulse, or follow any attraction, some part of nature, so purified and refined, flies off after the attracting object, after the thing it loves.
As into air the purer spirits f1ow,
And separate from their kindred dregs below,
So flew her soul.—
IV.v.171 (297,1) O how the wheel becomes it!] [W: weal] I do not see why weal is better than wheel. The story alluded to I do not know; but perhaps the lady stolen by the steward was reduced to spin.
IV.v.175 (297,2) There’s rosemary, that’ll far rememberance. Pray you, love, remember. And there’s pansies, that’s for thoughts] There is probably some mythology in the choice of these herbs, but I cannot explain it. Pansies is for thoughts, because of its name, Pensées; but rosemary indicates remembrance, except that it is an ever-green, and carried at funerals, I have not discovered.
IV.v.214 (300,7) No trophy, sword, nor batchment] It was the custom, in the times of our author, to hang a sword over the grave of a knight.
IV.v.218 (300,8) And where the offence is, let the great axe fall] [W: tax] Fall corresponds better to axe.
IV.vi.26 (301,9) for the bore of the matter] The bore is the calibier of a gun, or the capacity of the barrel. The matter (says Hamlet) would carry the heavier words.
IV.vii.18 (302,1) the general gender] The common race of the people.
dipping all his faults in their affection,
Would, like the spring that turneth wood to stone,
Convert his gyves to graces]
This simile is neither very seasonable in the deep interest of this conversation, nor very accurately applied. If the spring had changed base metals to gold, the thought had been more proper.
IV.vii.27 (302,3) if praises may go back again] If I may praise what has been, but is now to be found no more.
IV.vii.77 (304,5) Of the unworthiest siege] Of the lowest rank. Siege, for seat, place.
IV.vii.82 (304,6) Importing health and graveness] [W: wealth] Importing here may be, not inferring by logical consequence, but producing by physical effect. A young man regards show in his dress, an old man, health.
IV.vii.90 (305,7) I, in forgery of shapes and tricks/Come short of what he did] I could not contrive so many proofs of dexterity as he could perform.
IV.vii.98 (305,8) in your defence] That is, in the science of defence.
IV.vii.101 (305,9) The scrimers] The fencers.
IV.vii.112 (305,1) love is begun by time] This is obscure. The meaning may be, love is not innate in us, and co-essential to our nature, but begins at a certain time from some external cause, and being always subject to the operations of time, suffers change and diminution. (1773)
IV.vii.113 (300,2) in passages of proof] In transactions of daily experience.
IV.vii.123 (306,4) And then this should is like a spendthrift sigh/ That hurts by easing] [W: sign] This conjecture is so ingenious, that it can hardly be opposed, but with the same reluctance as the bow is drawn against a hero, whose virtues the archer holds in veneration. Here may be applied what Voltaire writes to the empress:
Le genereux Francois—
Te combat & t’admire.
Yet this emendation, however specious, is mistaken. The original reading is, not a spendthrift’s sigh, but a spendthrift sigh; a sigh that makes an unnecessary waste of the vital flame. It is a notion very prevalent, that sighs impair the strength, and wear out the animal powers.
IV.vii.135 (307,5) He being remiss] He being not vigilant or cautious.
IV.vii.139 (307,7) a pass of practice] Practice is often by Shakespeare, and other writers, taken for an insidious stratagem, or privy treason, a sense not incongruous to this passage, where yet I rather believe, that nothing more is meant than a thrust for exercise.
IV.vii.151 (308,8) May fit us to our shape] May enable us to assume proper characters, and to act our part.
IV.vii.155 (308,9) blast in proof] This, I believe, is a metaphor taken from a mine, which, in the proof or execution, sometimes breaks out with an ineffectual blast.
V.i.3 (310,1) make her grave straight] Make her grave from east to west in a direct line parallel to the church; not from north to south, athwart the regular line. This, I think, is meant.
V.i.87 (313,1) which this ass now o’er-reaches] In the quarto, for over-offices is, over-reaches, which agrees better with the sentence: it is a strong exaggeration to remark that an ass can over-reach him who would once have tried to circumvent.—I believe both the words were Shakespeare’s. An author in revising his work, when his original ideas have faded from his mind, and new observations have produced new sentiments, easily introduces images which have been more newly impressed upon him, without observing their want of congruity to the general texture of his original design.
V.i.96 (314,2) and now my lady Worm’s] The scull that was my lord Such a one’s, is now my lady Worm’s.
V.i.100 (314,3) to play at loggats with ’em?] A play, in which pins are set up to be beaten down with a bowl.
V.i.149 (316,5) by the card] The card is the paper on which the different points of the compass were described. To do any thing by the card, is, to do it with nice observation.
V.i.151 (316,6) the age is grown so picked] So smart, so sharp, says HANMER, very properly; but there was, I think, about that time, a picked shoe, that is, a shoe with a long pointed toe, in fashion, to which the allusion seems likewise to be made.Every man now is smart; and every man now is a man of fashion.
V.i.239 (319,7) winter’s flaw!] Winter’s blast.
V.i.242 (319,8) maimed rites!] Imperfect obsequies.
V.i.244 (319,9) some estate] Some person of high rank.
V.i.255 (319,2) Yet here she is allow’d her virgin crants] I have been informed by an anonymous correspondent, that crants is the German word for garlands, and I suppose it was retained by us from the Saxons. To carry garlands before the bier of a maiden, and to hang them over her grave, is still the practice in rural parishes.
Crants therefore was the original word, which the author, discovering it to be provincial, and perhaps not understood, changed to a term more intelligible, but less proper. Maiden rites give no certain or definite image. He might have put maiden wreaths, or maiden garlands, but he perhaps bestowed no thought upon it, and neither genius nor practice will always supply a hasty writer with the most proper diction.
V.i.310 (323,6) When that her golden couplets] [W: E’er that] Perhaps it should be,
Yet and that are easily confounded.
V.ii.6 (324,7) mutinies in the bilboes] Mutinies, the French word for seditious or disobedient fellows in the army or fleet. Bilboes, the ship’s prison.
V.ii.6 (324,8) Rashly,/And prais’d be rashness for it—Let us know] Both my copies read,
And prais’d be rashness for it, let us know.
Hamlet, delivering an account of his escape, begins with saying, that he rashly—and then is carried into a reflection upon the weakness of human wisdom. I rashly—praised be rashness for it—Let us not think these events casual, but let us know, that is,take notice and remember, that we sometimes succeed by indiscretion, when we fail by deep plots, and infer the perpetual superintendance and agency of the Divinity. The observation is just, and will be allowed by every human being who shall reflect on the course of his own life.
V.ii.22 (325,9) With, ho! such bugs and goblins in my life] With such causes of terror, arising from my character and designs.
V.ii.29 (325,2) Being thus benetted round with villainies,/ Ere I could make a prologue to my brains] [W: mark the prologue … bane] In my opinion no alteration is necessary. Hamlet is telling how luckily every thing fell out; he groped out their commission in the dark without waking them; he found himself doomed to immediate destruction. Something was to be done for his preservation. An expedient occurred, not produced by the comparison of one method with another, or by a regular deduction of consequences, but before he could make a prologue to his brains, they had begun the play. Before he could summon his faculties, and propose to himself what should be done, a complete scheme of action presented itself to him. His mind operated before he had excited it. This appears to me to be the meaning.
V.ii.41 (326,5) As peace should still her wheaten garland wear,/ And stand a comma ‘tween their amities] HANMER reads,
And stand a cement—
I am again inclined to vindicate the old reading.
The expression of our author is, like many of his phrases, sufficiently constrained and affected, but it is not incapable of explanation. The comma is the note of connection and continuity of sentences; the period is the note of abruption and disjunction. Shakespeare had it perhaps in his mind to write, That unless England complied with the mandate, war should put a period to their amity; he altered his mode of diction, and thought that, in an opposite sense, he might put, that Peace should stand acomma between their amities. This is not an easy stile; but is it not the stile of Shakespeare?
V.ii.43 (327,6) as’s of great charge] Asses heavily loaded. A quibble is intended between as the conditional particle, and ass the beast of burthen. That charg’d anciently signified leaded, may be proved from the following passage in The Widow’s Tears, by Chapman, 1612.
“Thou must be the ass charg’d with crowns to make way.” (see 1765, VIII, 294, 2)
V.ii.53 (327,7) The changeling never known] A changeling is a child which the fairies are supposed to leave in the room of that which they steal.
V.ii.68 (328,1) To quit him] To requite him; to pay him his due.
V.ii.84 (329,2) Dost know this water-fly] A water-fly, skips up and down upon the surface of the water, without any apparent purpose or reason, and is thence the proper emblem of a busy trifler.
V.ii.89 (329,3) It is a chough] A kind of jackdaw.
V.ii.112 (330,5) full of most excellent differences] Full of distinguishing excellencies.
V.ii.114 (330,6) the card or calendar of gentry] The general preceptor of elegance; the card by which a gentleman is to direct his course; the calendar by which he is to choose his time, that what he does may be both excellent and seasonable.
V.ii.115 (330,7) for you shall find in him the continent of what part a gentleman would see] You shall find him containing and comprising every quality which a gentleman would desire to contemplate for imitation. I know not but it should be read,You shall find him the continent
V.ii.119 (330,9) and yet but raw neither in respect of his quick sail] [W: but slow] I believe raw to be the right word; it is a word of great latitude; raw signifies unripe, immature, thence unformed, imperfect, unskilful. The best account of him would be imperfect, in respect of his quick sail. The phrase quick sail was, I suppose, a proverbial term for activity of mind.
V.ii.122 (330,1) a soul of great article] This is obscure. I once thought it might have been, a soul of great altitude; but, I suppose, a soul of great article, means a soul of large comprehension, of many contents; the particulars of an inventory are calledarticles.
V.ii.122 (331,2) his infusion of such dearth and rareness] Dearth is dearness, value, price. And his internal qualities of such value and rarity.
V.ii.131 (331,3) Is’t not possible to understand in another tongue? you will do’t, Sir, really] Of this interrogatory remark the sense ie very obscure. The question may mean, Might not all this be understood in plainer language. But then, you will do it, Sir, really, seems to have no use, for who could doubt but plain language would be intelligible? I would therefore read, Is’t possible not to be understood in a mother tongue. You will do it, Sir, really.
V.ii.140 (331,4) if you did, it would not much approve me] If you knew I was not ignorant, your esteem would not nuch advance my reputation. To approve, is to recommend to approbation.
V.ii.145 (331,5) I dare not confess that, lest I should compare with him in excellence] I dare not pretend to know him, lest I should pretend to an equality: no man can completely know another, but by knowing himself, which is the utmost extent of human wisdom.
V.ii.149 (332,6) in his meed] In his excellence.
V.ii.156 (332,7) impon’d] Perhaps it should be, depon’d. So Hudibras,
“I would upon this cause depone,
“As much as any I have known.”
But perhaps imponed is pledged, impawned, so spelt to ridicule the affectation of uttering English words with French pronunciation.
V.ii.165 (332,9) more germane.] Morea-kin.
V.ii.172 (333,1) The king, Sir, hath laid, that in a dozen passes between yourself and him, he shall not exceed you three hits; he hath laid on twelve for nine] This wager I do not understand. In a dozen passes one must exceed the other more or less than three hits. Nor can I comprehend, how, in a dozen, there can be twelve to nine. The passage is of no importance; it is sufficient that there was a wager. The quarto has the passage as it stands. The folio, He hath one twelve for mine.
V.ii.193 (333,2) This lapwing runs away with the shell on his head] I see no particular propriety in the image of the lapwing. Osrick did not run till he had done his business. We may read, This lapwing ran away—That is, this fellow was full of unimportant bustle from his birth.
V.ii.199 (334,4) a kind of yesty collection, which carries them through and through the most fond and winnowed opinions] [W: most fann’d] This is a very happy emendation; but I know not why the critic should suppose that fond was printed for fann’din consequence of any reason or reflection. Such errors, to which there is no temptation but idleness, and of which there was no cause but ignorance, are in every page of the old editions. This passage in the quarto stands thus: “They have got out of the habit of encounter, a kind of misty collection, which carries them through and through the most profane and renowned opinions.” If this printer preserved any traces of the original, our author wrote, “the most fane and renowned opinions,” which is better than fann’d and winnow’d.
The meaning is, “these men have got the cant of the day, a superficial readiness of slight and cursory conversation, a kind of frothy collection of fashionable prattle, which yet carried them through the most select and approved judgment. This airy facility of talk sometimes imposes upon wise men.”
Who has not seen this observation verified?
V.ii.201 (335,6) and do but blow them to their trials, the bubbles are out] These men of show, without solidity, are like bubbles raised from soap and water, which dance, and glitter, and please the eye, but if you extend them, by blowing hard, separate into a mist; so if you oblige these specious talkers to extend their compass of conversation, they at once discover the tenuity of their intellects.
V.ii.216 (335,7) gentle entertainment] Mild and temperate conversation.
V.ii.234 (336,1) Since no man knows aught of what he leaves, what is’t to leave betimes?] The reading of the quarto was right, but in some other copy the harshness of the transposition was softened, and the passage stood thus: Since no man knows aught of what he leaves. For knows was printed in the later copies has, by a slight blunder in such typographers.
I do not think Dr. Warburton’s interpretation of the passage the best that it will admit. The meaning may be this, Since no man knows aught of the state of life which he leaves, since he cannot judge what others years may produce, why should he be afraid of leaving life betimes? Why should he dread an early death, of which he cannot tell whether it is an exclusion of happiness, or an interception of calamity. I despise the superstition of augury and omens, which has no ground in reason or piety; my comfort is, that I cannot fall but by the direction of Providence.
Hanmer has, Since no man owes aught, a conjecture not very reprehensible. Since no man can call any possession certain, what is it to leave?
V.ii.237 (337,2) Give me your pardon, Sir] I wish Hamlet had made some other defence; it is unsuitable to the character of a good or a brave man, to shelter himself in falsehood.
V.ii.272 (338,5) Your grace hath laid upon the weaker side] Thus Hanmer. All the others read,
Your grace hath laid the odds o’ the weaker side.
When the odds were on the side of Laertes, who was to hit Hamlet twelve times to nine, it was perhaps the author’s slip.
V.ii.310 (340,7) you make a wanton of me] A wanton was, a man feeble and effeminate. In Cymbeline, Imogen says,
“I am not so citizen a wanton,
To die, ere I be sick.”
V.ii.346 (342,8) That are but mutes or audience to this act] That are either mere auditors of this catastrophe, or at most only mute performers, that fill the stage without any part in the action.
V.ii.375 (344,2) This quarry cries, on havock!] Hanmer reads,
—cries out, havock!
To cry on, was to exclaim against. I suppose, when unfair sportsmen destroyed more quarry or game than was reasonable, the censure was to cry, Havock.
(346) General Observation. If the dramas of Shakespeare were to be characterised, each by the particular excellence which distinguishes it from the rest, we must allow to the tragedy of Hamlet the praise of variety. The incidents are so numerous, that the argument of the play would make a long tale. The scenes are interchangeably diversified with merriment and solemnity; with merriment that includes judicious and instructive observations, and solemnity, not strained by poetical violence above the natural sentiments of man. New characters appear from time to time in continual succession, exhibiting various forms of life and particular modes of conversation. The pretended madness of Hamlet causes much mirth, the mournful distraction of Ophelia fills the heart with tenderness, and every personage produces the effect intended, from the apparition that in the first act chills the blood with horror, to the fop in the last, that exposes affectation to just contempt. The conduct is perhaps not wholly secure against objections. The action is indeed for the most part in continual progression, but there are some scenes which neither forward nor retard it. Of the feigned madness of Hamlet there appears no adequate cause, for he does nothing which he might not have done with the reputation of sanity. He plays the madman most, when he treats Ophelia with so much rudeness, which seems to be useless and wanton cruelty.
Hamlet is, through the whole play, rather an instrument than an agent. After he has, by the stratagem of the play, convicted the king, he makes no attempt to punish him, and his death is at last effected by an incident which Hamlet had no part in producing.
The catastrophe is not very happily produced; the exchange of weapons is rather an expedient of necessity, than a stroke of art. A scheme might easily have been formed to kill Hamlet with the dagger, and Laertes with the bowl.
The poet is accused of having shewn little regard to poetical justice, and may be charged with equal neglect of poetical probability. The apparition left the regions of the dead to little purpose; the revenge which he demands is not obtained, but by the death of him that was required to take it; and the gratification which would arise from the destruction of an usurper and a murderer, is abated by the untimely death of Ophelia, the young, the beautiful, the harmless, and the pious.
One Michael Cassio, a Florentine,
A fellow almost damn’d in a fair wife]
This is one of the passages which must for the present be resigned to corruption and obscurity. I have nothing that I can, with any approach to confidence, propose. I cannot think it very plain from Act 3. Scene 1. that Cassio was or was not a Florentine.
I.i.30 (361,6) must be belee’d and calm’d] [—must be LED and calm’d. So the old quarto. The first folio reads belee’d: but that spoils the measure. I read LET, hindered. WARBURTON.] Belee’d suits to calm’d, and the measure is not less perfect than in many other places.
I.i.36 (361,7) Preferment goes by letter] By recommendation from powerful friends.
I.i.37 (361,8) And not by old gradation] [W: Not (as of old)] Old gradation, is gradation established byancient practice. Where is the difficulty?
I.i.39 (361,9) If I in any just term am affin’d] Affine is the reading of the third quarto and the first folio. The second quarto and all the modern editions have assign’d. The meaning is, Do I stand within any such terms of propinquit or relation to the Moor, as that it is my duty to love him?
I.i.49 (362,1) honest knaves] Knave is here for servant, but with a mixture of sly contempt.
I.i.63 (362,2) In compliment extern] In that which I do only for an outward shew of civility.
I.i.76 (363,3) As when, by night and negligence, the fire/Is spied in populous cities] [Warburton, objecting to “by”: Is spred] The particle is used equivocally; the same liberty is taken by writers more correct.
The wonderful creature! a woman of reason!
Never grave out of pride, never gay out of season.
I.i.115 (364,4) What profane wretch art thou?] That is, what wretch of gross and licentious language? In that sense Shakespeare often uses the word profane.
I.i.124 (365,6) this odd even] The even of night is midnight, the time when night is divided into even parts.
I.i.149 (366,7) some check] Some rebuke.
I.i.150 (366,8) cast him] That is, dismiss him; reject him. We still say, a cast coat, and a cast serving-man.
I.i.162 (366,9) And what’s to come of my despised time] [W: despited] Despised time, is time of no value; time in which
“There’s nothing serious in mortality,
The wine of life is drawn, and the mere dregs
Are left, this vault to brag of.” Macbeth.
I.i.173 (367,2) By which the property of youth and maidhood/May be abus’d?] By which the faculties of a young virgin may be infatuated, and made subject to illusions and to false imagination.
“Wicked dreams abuse
The curtain’d sleep.” Macbeth.
I.ii.2 (368,3) stuff o’ the conscience] This expression to common readers appears harsh. Stuff of the conscience is, substance, or essence of the conscience. Stuff is a word of great force in the Teutonic languages. The elements are called in Dutch,Hoefd stoffen, or head stuffs.
I.ii.13 (368,4) And hath, in his effect, a voice potential/As double as the duke’s] [Warburton had given a source in Dioscorides and Theocritus for “double”] This note has been much censured by Mr. Upton, who denies, that the quotation is in Dioscorides, and disputes, not without reason, the interpretation of Theocritus.
All this learning, if it had even been what it endeavours to be thought, is, in this place, superfluous. There is no ground of supposing, that our author copied or knew the Greek phrase; nor does it follow, that, because a word has two senses in one language, the word which in another answers to one sense, should answer to both. Manus, in Latin, signifies both a hand and troop of soldiers, but we cannot say, that the captain marched at the head of his hand; or, that he laid his troop upon his sword. It is not always in books that the meaning is to be sought of this writer, who was much more acquainted with naked reason and with living manners.
Double has here its natural sense. The president of every deliberative assembly has a double voice. In our courts, the chief justice and one of the inferior judges prevail over the other two, because the chief justice has a double voice.
Brabantio had, in his effect, though not by law, yet by weight and influence, a voice not actual and formal, but potential and operative, as double, that is, a voice that when a question was suspended, would turn the balance as effectually as the duke’s.Potential is used in the sense of science; a caustic is called potential fire.
I.ii.23 (370,7) speak, unbonnetted] [Pope: unbonnetting] I do not see the propriety of Mr. Pope’s emendation, though adopted by Dr. Warburton. Unbonnetting may as well be, not putting on, as not putting off, the bonnet. Hamner reads e’enbonnetted.
I.ii.26 (370,8) unhoused] Free from domestic cares. A thought natural to an adventurer.
I.ii.28 (370,9) For the sea’s worth] I would not marry her, though she were as rich as the Adriatic, which the Doge annually marries.
I.ii.30 (371,2) a land-carrack] A carrack is a ship of great bulk, and commonly of great value; perhaps what we now call a galleon.
I.ii.55 (372,3) be advis’d] That is, be cool; be cautious; be discreet.
I.ii.68 (372,4) The wealthy curled darlings of our nation] Curled is elegantly and ostentatiously dressed. He had not the hair particularly in his thoughts.
I.ii.74 (373,6) Abused her delicate youth with drugs, or minerals,/ That weaken notion] [T: notion] Hanmer reads with equal probability, That waken motion. [Originally motion].
I.iii.6 (375,9) As in these cases where they aim reports] [W: the aim] The folio has,
—the aim reports.
But, they aim reports, has a sense sufficiently easy and commodious. There men report not by certain knowledge, but by aim and conjecture.
I.ii.18 (375,1) By no assay of reason] Bring it to the test, examine it by reason as we examine metals by the assay, it will be found counterfeit by all trials.
I.iii.23 (376,2) facile question] Question is for the act of seeking. With more easy endeavour.
I.iii.24 (376,4) warlike brace] State of defence. To arm was called to brace on the armour.
I.iii.42 (376,5) And prays you to believe him] The late learned and ingenious Mr. Thomas Clark, of Lincoln’s Inn, read the passage thus:
And prays you to relieve him.
But the present reading may stand. He intreats you not to doubt the truth of this intelligence.
I.iii.54 (377,6) Hath rais’d me from my bed; nor doth the general care] The word care, which encumbers the verse, was probably added by the players. Shakespeare uses the general as a substantive, though, I think, not in this sense.
I.iii.69 (373,8) though our proper son/Stood in your action] Were the man exposed to your charge or accusation.
I.iii.80 (378,9) The very head and front of my offending] The main, the whole, unextenuated.
I.iii.85 (379,2) Their dearest action] That is dear, for which much is paid, whether money or labour; dear action, is action performed at great expence, either of ease or safety.
I.iii.107 (380,4) overt test] Open proofs, external evidence.
I.iii.108 (380,5) thin habits and poor likelihoods/Of modern seeming] Weak shew of slight appearance.
I.iii.139 (381,6) And portance in my travel’s history] [I have restored,
And with it all my travel’s history:
From the old edition. It is in the rest,
And portance in my travel’s history.
Rymer, in his criticism on this play, has changed it to portents, instead of portance. POPE.] Mr. Pope has restored a line, to which there is little objection, but which has no force. I believe portance was the author’s word in some revised copy. I read thus,
To slavery, of my redemption, thence,
And portance in’t; my travel’s history.
My redemption from slavery, and behaviour in it.
I.iii.140-170 (381,7) Wherein of antres vast, and desarts idle] Whoever ridicules this account of the progress of love, shows his ignorance, not only of history, but of nature and manners. It is no wonder that, in any age, or in any nation, a lady, recluse, timorous, and delicate, should desire to hear of events and scenes which she could never see, and should admire the man who had endured dangers and performed actions, which, however great, were yet magnified by her timidity. [Pope: deserts wild] Every mind is liable to absence and inadvertency, else Pope could never have rejected a word so poetically beautiful. Idle is an epithet used to express the infertility of the chaotic state, in the Saxon translation of the Pentateuch. (1773)
I.iii.140 (382,8) antres] [French grottos. POPE.] Rather caves and dens.
I.iii.142 (382,9) It was my hint to speak] [W: hent] Hent is not used in Shakespeare, nor, I believe, in any other author; hint, or cue, is comnonly used for occasion of speech, which is explained by, such was the process, that is, the course of the tale required it. If hent be restored, it may be explained by handle. I had a handle, or opportunity, to speak of cannibals.
I.iii.144 (382,1) men whose heads/Do grow beneath their shoulders] Of these men there is an account in the interpolated travels of Mondeville, a book of that time.
I.iii.199 (384,4) Let me speak like yourself;] [W: our self] Hanmer reads,
Let me now speak more like your self.
Dr. Warburton’s emendation is specious; but I do not see how Hanmer’s makes any alteration. The duke seems to mean, when he says he will speak like Brabantio, that he will speak sententiously.
I.iii.213 (385,6) But the free comfort which from thence he hears] But the moral precepts of consolation, which are liberally bestowed on occasion of the sentence.
I.iii.232 (386,8) thrice-driven bed of down] A driven bed, is a bed for which the feathers are selected, by driving with a fan, which separates the light from the heavy.
I crave fit disposition for my wife;
Due reverence of place, and exhibition]
I desire, that a proper disposition be made for my wife, that she may have precedency, and revenue, accommodation, and company, suitable to her rank.
For reference of place, the old quartos have reverence, which Hanmer has received. I should read,
Due preference of place.—
I.iii.246 (387,1) And let me find a charter in your voice] Let your favour privilege me.
I.iii.250 (387,2) My down-right violence and storm of fortunes] [W: to forms, my fortunes] There is no need of this emendation. Violence is not violence suffered, but violence acted. Breach of common rules and obligations. The old quarto has, scornof fortune, which is perhaps the true reading.
I.iii.253 (388,3) I saw Othello’s visage in his mind] It must raise no wonder, that I loved a man of an appearance so little engaging; I saw his face only in his mind; the greatness of his character reconciled me to his form.
Nor to comply with heat (the young affects,
In me defunct) and proper satisfaction]
[T: me distinct, i.e. with that heat and new affections which the indulgence of my appetite has raised and created. This is the meaning of defunct, which has made all the difficulty of the passage. WARBURTON.] I do not think that Mr. Theobald’s emendation clears the text from embarrassment, though it is with a little imaginary improvement received by Hanmer, who reads thus:
Nor to comply with heat, affects the young
In my distinct and proper satisfaction.
Dr. Warburton’s explanation is not more satisfactory: what made the difficulty, will continue to make it. I read,
—I beg it not,
To please the palate of my appetite,
Nor to comply with heat (the young affects
In me defunct) and proper satisfaction;
But to be free and bounteous to her mind.
Affects stands here, not for love, but for passions, for that by which any thing is affected. I ask it not, says he, to please appetite, or satisfy loose desires, the passions of youth which I have now outlived, or for any particular gratification of myself, but merely that I may indulge the wishes of my wife.
Mr. Upton had, before me, changed my to me; but he has printed young effects, not seeming to know that affects could be a noun. (1773)
I.iii.290 (391,6) If virtue no delighted beauty lack] [W: belighted] Hanmer reads, more plausibly, delighting. I do not know that belighted has any authority. I should rather read,
If virtue no delight or beauty lack.
Delight, for delectation, or power of pleasing, as it is frequently used.
I.iii.299 (391,8) best advantage] Fairest opportunity.
I.iii.317 (392,9) a Guinea-hen] A showy bird with fine feathers.
I.iii.346 (392,1) defeat thy favour with an usurped beard] [W: disseat] It is more English, to defeat, than disseat. To defeat, is to undo, to change.
I.iii.350 (393,2) It was a violent commencement in her, and thou shalt see an answerable sequestration] There seems to be an opposition of terms here intended, which has been lost in transcription. We may read, It was a violent conjunction, and thou shalt see an answerable sequestration; or, what seems to me preferable, It was a violent commencement, and thou shalt see an answerable sequel.
I.iii.363 (393,4) betwixt an erring Barbarian] [W: errant] Hanmer reads, errant. Erring is as well as either.
II.i.15 (396,1) And quench the guards of the ever-fixed pole] Alluding to the star Arctophylax.
His bark is stoutly timber’d, and his pilot
Of very expert and approv’d allowance;
Therefore my hopes, not surfeited to death,
Stand in bold cure]
I do not understand these lines. I know not how hope can be surfeited to death, that is, can be encreased, till it is destroyed; nor what it is to stand in bold cure; or why hope should be considered as a disease. In the copies there is no variation. Shall we read
Therefore my fears, not surfeited to death,
Stand in bold cure?
This is better, but it is not well. Shall we strike a bolder stroke, and read thus?
Therefore my hopes, not forfeited to death,
Stand bold, not sure.
II.i.49 (398,4) Of very expert and approv’d allowance] I read, Very expert, and of approv’d allowance.
II.i.64 (308,5) And in the essential vesture of creation/Does bear all excellency; We in terrestrial] I do not think the present reading inexplicable. The author seems to use essential, for existent, real. She excels the praises of invention, says he, and in real qualities, with which creation has invested her, bears all excellency.
Does bear all excellency——] Such is the reading of the quartos, for which the folio has this,
And in the essential vesture of creation
Do’s tyre the ingeniuer.
Which I explain thus,
Does tire the ingenious verse.
This is the best reading, and that which the author substituted in his revisal.
II.i.112 (401,9) Saints in your injuries] When you have a mind to do injuries, you put on an air of sanctity.
II.i.120 (402,1) I am nothing, if not critical] That is, censorious.
II.i.137 (402,2) She never yet was foolish] We may read,
She ne’er was yet so foolish that was fair,
But even her folly help’d her to an heir.
Yet I believe the common reading to be right; the lay makes the power of cohabitation a proof that a man is not a natural; therefore, since the foolishest woman, if pretty, may have a child, no pretty woman is ever foolish.
II.i.146 (403,3) put on the vouch of very malice itself] To put on the vouch of malice, is to assume a character vouched by the testimony of malice itself.
II.i.165 (404,5) profane] Gross of language, of expression broad and brutal. So Brabantio, in the first act, calls Iago profane wretch.
II.i.165 (404,6) liberal counsellor.] Counsellor seems to mean, not so much a man that gives counsel, us one that discourses fearlessly and volubly. A talker.
II.i.177 (405,8) well kiss’d! an excellent courtesy!] [—well kissed, and excellent courtesy;—] This I think should be printed, well kiss’d! an excellent courtesy! Spoken when Cassio kisses his hand, and Desdemona courtesies. [The old quarto confirms Dr. Johnson’s emendation. STEEVENS.]
II.i.208 (406,1) I prattle out of fashion] Out of method, without any settled order of discourse.
II.i.211 (406,2) the master] The pilot of the ship.
II.i.223 (406,3) Lay thy finger thus] On thy mouth, to stop it while thou art listening to a wiser man.
II.i.252 (407,5) green minds] Minds unripe, minds not yet fully formed.
II.i.254 (408,6) she is full of most bless’d condition] Qualities, disposition of mind.
II.i.274 (408,7) tainting his discipline] Throwing a slur upon hie discipline.
II.i.279 (408,8) sudden in choler] Sudden, is precipitately violent.
II.i.283 (408,9) whose qualification shall come into no true taste again] Whose resentment shall not be so qualified or tempered, as to be well tasted, as not to retain some bitterness. The phrase is harsh, at least to our ears.
II.i.306 (409,1) like a poisonous mineral] This is philosophical. Mineral poisons kill by corrosion.
II.i.314 (411,4) I’ll have our Michael Cassio on the hip] A phrase from the art of wrestling.
II.i.321 (411,6) Knavery’s plain face is never seen] An honest man acts upon a plan, and forecasts his designs; but a knave depends upon temporary and local opportunities, and never knows his own purpose, but at the time of execution.
II.iii.14 (413,8) Our general cast us] That is, appointed us to our stations. To cast the play, is, in the stile of the theatres, to assign to every actor his proper part.
II.iii.26 (413,9) And when she speaks, is it not an alarum to love?] The voice may sound an alarm more properly than the eye can sound a parley.
II.iii.46 (413,1) I have drunk but one cap to-night, and that was carefully qualified too] Slily mixed with water.
II.iii.59 (414,2) The very elements; As quarrelsome as the as the discordia semina rerum; as quick in opposition as fire and water.
II.iii.64 (414,3) If consequence do but approve my dream] [T: my deer] This reading is followed by the succeeding editions. I rather read,
If consequence do but approve my scheme.
But why should dream be rejected? Every scheme subsisting only in the imagination may be termed a dream.
II.iii.93-99 (416,6) King Stephen was a worthy peer] These stanzas are taken from an old song, which the reader will find recovered and preserved in a curious work lately printed, intitled, Relicks of Ancient Poetry, consisting of old heroic ballands, songs, &c. 3 vols. 12.
II.iii.95 (416,7) lown] Sorry fellow, paltry wretch.
II.iii.135 (417,8) He’ll watch the horologe a double set] If he have no drink, he’ll keep awake while the clock strikes two rounds, or four and twenty hours.
Chaucer uses the ward horologe in more places than one.
“Well skirer was his crowing in his loge
“Than is a clock or abbey horologe.”]
The bracketed part of Johnson’s note is taken verbatim from Zacbary Gray, Critical … Notes on Shakespeare, 1754, II, 316.] (see 1765, VIII, 374, 6) (rev. 1778, I, 503, 9)
II.iii.145 (418,9) ingraft infirmity; An infirmity rooted, settled in his constitution.
II.iii.175 (419,3) it frights the isle/From her propriety] From her regular and proper state.
II.iii.180 (419,4) In quarter] In their quarters; at their lodging.
II.iii.194 (420,5) you unlace your reputation thus] Slacken, or loosen. Put in danger of dropping; or perhaps strip of its ornaments.
II.iii.195 (420,6) spend your rich opinion] Throw away and squander a reputation as valuable as yours.
II.iii.202 (420,7) self-charity] Care of one’s self.
II.iii.211 (421,9) he that is approv’d in this offence] He that is convicted by proof, of having been engaged in this offence.
II.iii.274 (423,1) cast in his mood] Ejected in his anger.
II.iii.343 (425,4) this advice is free] This counsel has an appearance of honest openness, of frank good-will.
II.iii.348 (425,5) free elements] Liberal, bountiful, as the elements, out of which all things are produced.
II.iii.355 (425,6) to this parallel course] i.e. a course level, and even with his design.
II.iii.363 (425,8) That she repeals him] That is, recalls him.
Though ether things grew fair against the sun,
Yet fruits, that blossom first, will first be ripe]
Of many different things, all planned with the same art, and promoted with the same diligence, some must succeed sooner than others, by the order of nature. Every thing cannot be done at once; we must proceed by the necessary gradation. We are not to despair of slow events any more than of tardy fruits, while the causes are in regular progress, and the fruits grow fair against the sun. Hanmer has not, I think, rightly conceived the sentiment; for he reads,
Those fruits which blossom first, are not first ripe.
I have therefore drawn it out at length, for there are few to whom that will be easy which was difficult to Hanmer.
III.i.3 (427,2) Why, masters, have your instruments been in Naples, that they speak i’ the nose thus?] The venereal disease first appeared at the siege of Naples.
That policy may either last so long,
Or feed upon such nice and waterish diet,
Or breed itself so out of circumstance,
That I, being absent, and my place supplied,
My general will forget my love and service]
He may either of himself think it politic to keep me out of office so long, or he may be satisfied with such slight reasons, or so many accidents may make him think my re-admission at that time improper, that I may be quite forgotten.
III.iii.23 (431,7) I’ll watch him tame] It is said, that the ferocity of beasts, insuperable and irreclaimable by any other means, is subdued by keeping them from sleep.
III.iii.47 (431,8) His present reconciliation take] [W: make] To take his reconciliation, may be to accept the submission which he makes in order to be reconciled.
III.iii.65 (432,1) the wars must make examples/Out of their best] The severity of military discipline must not spare the best men of the army, when their punishment nay afford a wholesome example.
III.iii.90 (433,2) Excellent wretch!—Perdition catch my soul,/But I do love thee!] The meaning of the word wretch, is not generally understood. It is now, in some parts of England, a term of the softest and fondest tenderness. It expresses the utmost degree of amiableness, joined with an idea, which perhaps all tenderness includes, of feebleness, softness, and want of protection. Othello, considering Desdemona as excelling in beauty and virtue, soft and timorous by her sex, and by her situation absolutely in his power, calls her Excellent wretch! It may be expressed,
Dear, harmless, helpless Excellence.
III.iii.91 (433,3) when I love thee not,/Chaos is come again] When my love is for a moment suspended by suspicion, I have nothing in my mind but discord, tumult, perturbation, and confusion.
III.iii.123 (435,4) They are close delations working from the heart,/ That passion cannot rule] They are cold dilations working from the heart,/That passion cannot rule.] I know not why the modern editors are satisfied with this reading, which no explanation can clear. They might easily have found, that it is introduced without authority. The old copies uniformly give, close dilations, except that the earlier quarto has close denotements; which was the author’s first expression, afterwards changed by him, not to cold dilations, for cold is read in no ancient copy; nor, I believe, to close dilations, but to close delations; to occult and secret accusations, working involuntarily from the heart, which, though resolved to conceal the fault, cannot rule its passion of resentment.
III.iii.127 (435,5) Or, those that be not, ‘would they might seem none!] [W: seem knaves] I believe the meaning is, would they might no longer seem, or bear the shape of men.
III.iii.140 (436,6) Keep leets and law-days] [i.e. govern. WARBURTON.] Rather visit than govern, but visit with authoritative intrusion.
III.iii.149 (437,8) From one that so improbably conceits]—imperfectly conceits,] In the old quarto it is,
Which I think preferable.
III.iii.166 (437,9) the green-ey’d monster, which doth make/The meat it feeds on] which doth mock The meat it feeds on.] I have received Hanmer’s emendation [“make”]; because to mock, does not signify to loath; and because, when Iago bids Othello beware of jealousy, the green-eyed monster, it is natural to tell why he should beware, and for caution he gives him two reasons, that jealousy often creates its own cause, and that, when the causes are real, jealousy is misery.
III.iii.173 (438,1) But riches, fineless] Unbounded, endless, unnumbered treasures.
Exchange me for a goat,
When I shall turn the business of my soul
To such exsuffolate and blown surmises,
Matching thy inference]
This odd and far-fetched word was made yet more uncouth in all the editions before Hanmer’s, by being printed, exsufflicate. The allusion is to a bubble. Do not think, says the Moor, that I shall change the noble designs that now employ my thoughts, to suspicions which, like bubbles blown into a wide extent, have only an empty shew without solidity, or that in consequence of such empty fears, I will close with thy inference against the virtue of my wife.
III.iii.188 (439,4) Where virtue is, those are most virtuous] An action in itself indifferent grows virtuous by its end and application.
I know our country disposition well;
In Venice they do let heaven see the pranks]
Here Iago seems to be a Venetian.
III.iii.207 (440,7) And, when she seem’d to shake, and fear your looks,/She lov’d them most] This and the following argument of Iago ought to be deeply impressed on every reader. Deceit and falsehood, whatever conveniencies they may for a time promise or produce, are, in the sum of life, obstacles to happiness. Those, who profit by the cheat, distruat the deceiver, and the act, by which kindness was sought, puts an end to confidence.
The same objection may be made with a lower degree of strength against the imprudent generosity of disproportionate marriages. When the first heat of passion is over, it is easily succeeded by suspicion, that the same violence of inclination, which caused one irregularity, may stimulate to another; and those who have shown, that their passions are too powerful for their prudence, will, with very alight appearances againat them, be censured, as not very likely to restrain them by their virtue. (see 1765, VIII, 397, 1)
III.iii.210 (440,8) To seel her father’s eyes up, close as oak] There is little relation between eyes and oak. I would read,
She seel’d her father’s eyes up close as owl’s.
As blind as an owl, is a proverb.
III.iii.222 (441,1) My speech would fall into such vile success] [Success, far succession, i.e. conclusion; not prosperous issue. WARB.] I rather think there is a depravation, and would read,
My speech would fall into such vile excess.
If success be the right word, it seems to mean consequence or event, as successo is used in Italian.
III.iii.232 (441,2) will most rank] Will, is for wilfulness. It is so used by Ascham. A rank will, is self-will overgrown and exuberant.
III.iii.249 (442,3) You shall by that perceive him, and his means] You shall discover whether he thinks his best means, his most powerful interest, is by the solicitation of your lady.
III.iii.250 (442,4) strain his entertainnent] Press hard his re-admission to his pay and office. Entertainment was the military term for admission of soldiers.
III.iii.256 (442,5) Fear not my government] Do not distrust ay ability to contain my passion.
III.iii.259 (442,6) knows all qualities, with a learned spirit,/Of human dealings] The construction is, He knows with a learned spirit all qualities of human dealings.
III.iii.260 (442,7) If I do prore her haggard] A haggard hark, is a wild hawk, a hawk unreclaimed, or irreclaimable.
III.iii.262 (443,8) I’d whistle her off, and let her down the wind,/ To prey at fortune] The falconers always let fly the hawk against the wind; if she flies with the wind behind her, she seldom returns. If therefore a hawk was for any reason to be dismissed, she was let down the wind, and from that time shifted far herself, and preyed at fortune. This was told me by the late Mr. Clark.
III.iii.276 (443,9) forked plague] In allusion to a barbed or forked arrow, which, once infixed, cannot be extracted.
III.iii.312 (445,2) And, to the advantage, I, being here, took it up] I being opportunely here, took it up.
III.iii.319 (445,3) Be not you known on’t] Should it not rather be read,
Be not you known in’t?
The folio reads,
Be not unknown on’t.
The sense is plain, but of the expression I cannot produce any example.
III.iii.332 (446,5) that sweet sleep,/Which thou owedst yesterday] To owe is, in our author, oftener to possess, than to be indebted, and such was its meaning here; but as that sense was growing less usual, it was changed unnecessarily by the editors tohadst; to the sane meaning, more intelligibly expressed.
Farewell the neighing steed, and the shrill trump,
The spirit-stirring drum, the ear-piercing fife]
Dr. Warburton has offered fear-spersing, for fear-dispersing. But ear-piercing is an epithet so eminently adapted to the fife, and so distinct from the shrillness of the trumpet, that it certainly ought not to be changed. Dr. Warburton has been censured for this proposed emendation with more noise than honesty, for he did not himself put it in the text.
III.iii.369 (449,8) abandon all remorse] [Remorse, for repentance. WARBURTON.] I rather think it is, Let go all scruples, throw aside all restraints.
III.iii.429 (451,4) Oth. ’tis a shrewd doubt] [The old quarto gives this line, with the two following, to Iago; and rightly. WARB.] I think it more naturally spoken by Othello, who, by dwelling so long upon the proof, encouraged Iago to enforce it.
III.iii.448 (452,8) hearted throne] [W: parted] Hearted throne, is the heart on which thou wast enthroned. Parted throne has no meaning.
Let him command,
And to obey, shall be in me remorse,
What bloody business ever]
[Pope: Not to obey] [T: Nor, to obey.] [W: me. Remord] Of these two emendations, I believe, Theobald’s will have the greater number of suffrages; it has at least mine. The objection against the propriety of the declaration in Iago is a cavil; he does not say that he has no principle of remorse, but that it shall not operate against Othello’s commands. To obey shall be in me, for I will obey you, is a mode of expression not worth the pains here taken to introduce it; and the word remords has not in the quotation the meaning of withhold, or make reluctant, but of reprove, or censure; nor do I know that it is used by any of the contemporaries of Shakespeare.
I will offer an interpretation, which, if it be received, will make alteration unnecessary, but it is very harsh and violent. Iago devotes himself to wronged Othello, and says, Let him command whatever bloody business, and in me it shall be an act, not of cruelty, but of tenderness, to obey him; not of malice to other, but of tenderness for him. If this sense be thought too violent, I see nothing better than to follow Pope’s reading, as it is improved by Theobald.
III.iv.26 (457,5) cruzadoes] [A Portugueze coin, in value three shillings sterling. Dr. GREY.] So called from the cross stamped upon it.
III.iv.46 (458,6) The hearts, of old, gave hands] [Warburton explains this is an allusion to James the First’s practice of creating baronets for money and emends to “The hands of old gave hearts”] The historical observation is very judicious and acute, but of the emendation there is no need. She says, that her hand gave away her heart. He goes on with his suspicion, and the hand which he had before called frank, he now terms liberal; then proceeds to remark, that the hand was formerly given by the heart; but now it neither gives it, nor is given by it.
III.iv.51 (459,7) salt and sullen rheum]—salt and sorry rheum] The old quarto has,
—salt and sullen rheum—-
That is, a rheum obstinately troublesome. I think this better.
A Sybil, that had numbred in the world
The sun to course two hundred compasses]
The expression is not very infrequent; we say, I counted the clock to strike four; so she number’d the sun to course, to run two hundred compasses, two hundred annual circuits.
III.iv.79 (460,1) Why do you speak so startingly, and rash?] Is vehement, violent.
III.iv.103 (461,2) ‘Tis not a year, or two, shews us a man] From this line it may be conjectured, that the author intended the action of the play to be considered as longer than is marked by any note of time. Since their arrival at Cyprus, to which they were hurried on their wedding-night, the fable seems to have been in one continual progress, nor can I see any vacuity into which a year or two, or even a month or two, could be put. On the night of Othello’s arrival, a feast was proclaimed; at that feast Cassio was degraded, and immediately applies to Desdemona to get him restored. Iago indeed advises Othello to hold him off a while, but there is no reason to think, that he has been held off long. A little longer interval would increase the probability of the story, though it might violate the rules of the drama. See Act. 5. Sc. 2. (see 1765, VIII, 416, 1)
III.iv.113 (461,3) the duty of my heart] —the office of my heart.] The elder quarto reads,
—the duty of my heart.
The author used the more proper word, and then changed it, I suppose, for fashionable diction; but, as fashion is a very weak protectress, the old word is now ready to resume its place.
But to know so, must be my benefit]
“Si nequeo placidas affari Caesaris aures,
“Saltem aliquis veniat, qui mihi dicat, abi.”
III.iv.125 (462,7) in favour] In look, in countenance.
III.iv.128 (462,8) within the blank of his displeasure] Within the shot of his anger.
III.iv.141 (463,9) some unhatch’d practice] Some treason that has not taken effect.
for let our finger ach,
And it endues our other healthful members
Even to that sense of pain]
Endue with a sense of pain, is an expression, which, though it might be endured, if it were genuine, cannot deserve to be introduced by artifice. The copies, both quarto and folio, read, Endue our other healthful members even to a sense of pain. I believe it should be rather, SUBDUE our other healthful members to a sense of pain.
III.iv.151 (463,2) (unhandsome warrior as I am)] [W: wrangler] Unhandsome warrior, is evidently unfair assailant.
III.iv.178 (464,3) a more continuate time]—more convenient time] The folio has,
—more continuate time;
Time less interrupted, time which I can call more my own. It gives a more distinct image than convenient.
III.iv.180 (464,4) Take me this work out] The meaning is not, “Pick out the work, and leave the ground plain;” but, “Copy this work in another handkerchief.”
Naked in bed, Iago, and not mean harm?
It is hypocrisy against the devil]
Hypocrisy against the devil, means hypocrisy to cheat the devil. As common hypocrites cheat men, by seeming good, and yet living wickedly, these men would cheat the devil, by giving him flattering hopes, and at last avoiding the crime which he thinks them ready to commit.
IV.i.22 (467,8) Boding to all] Thus all the old copies. The moderns, less grammatically,
Boding to ill—
IV.i.42 (468,2) without sone instruction] [W: induction] This is a noble conjecture, and whether right or wrong does honour to its author. Yet I am in doubt whether there is any necessity of emendation. There has always prevailed in the world an opinion, that when any great calamity happens at a distance, notice is given of it to the sufferer by some dejection or perturbation of mind, of which he discovers no external cause. This is ascribed to that general communication of one part of the universe with another, which is called sympathy and antipathy; or to the secret monition, instruction, and influence of a superior Being, which superintends the order of nature and of life. Othello says, Nature could not invest herself in such shadowing passion without instruction. It is not words that shake me thus. This passion, which spreads its clouds over me, is the effect of some agency more than the operation of words; it is one of those notices which men have of unseen calamities.
IV.i.76 (471,4) Confine yourself but in a patient list] For attention; act of listening.
IV.i.82 (471,5) encave yourself] Hide yourself in a private place.
IV.i.89 (471,6) Or I shall say, you are all in all in spleen,/And nothing of a man] I read,
Or shall I say, you’re all in all a spleen.
I think our author uses this expression elsewhere.
IV.i.121 (472,8) Do you triumph, Roman? do you triumph?] Othello calls him Roman ironically. Triumph, which was a Roman ceremony, brought Roman into his thoughts. What (says he) you are now triumphing as great as a Roman?
IV.i.123 (472,9) a customer!] A common woman, one that invites custom.
IV.i.130 (473,1) Have you scar’d me? Have you made my reckoning? have you settled the term of my life? The old quarto reads, stored me. Have you disposed of me? have you laid me up?
IV.i.150 (473,2) ‘Tis such another fitchew! marry, a perfum’d one] Shakespeare has in another place mentioned the lust of this animal. He tells Iago, that she is as lewd as the polecat, but of better scent, the polecat being a very stinking animal.
IV.i.244 (476,4) atone them] Make them one; reconcile them.
If that the earth could teem with woman’s tears,
Each drop she falls would prove a crocodile]
If womens tears could impregnate the earth. By the doctrine of equivocal generation, new animals were supposed producible by new combinations of matter. See Bacon.
whose solid virtue
The shot of accident, nor dart of chance,
Could neither graze nor pierce]
[T: of change] To graze is not merely to touch superficially, but to strike not directly, not so as to bury the body of the thing striking in the matter struck.
Theobald trifles, as is usual. Accident and chance may admit a subtle distinction; accident may be considered as the act, and chance as the power or agency of fortune; as, It was by chance that this accident befel me. At least, if we suppose all corrupt that is inaccurate, there will be no end of emendation.
IV.ii.57 (482,1) garner’d up my heart] That is, treasured up; the garner and the fountain are improperly conjoined.
Turn thy complexion there!
Patience, thou young and rose-lipp’d cherubim;
Ay, there, look grim as hell]
At such an object do thou, patience, thyself change colour; at this do thou, even thou, rosy cherub as thou art, look grim as hell. The old editions and the new have it,
I here look grim as hell.
I was written for ay, and not since corrected.
IV.ii.109 (484,4) The small’st opinion on my great’st abuse] The old quarto reads [for “least misuse”],
The small’st opinion on my great’st abuse.
Which I think is better.
IV.ii.140 (486,6) Some base notorious knave] For gross, not in its proper meaning for known.
IV.ii.144 (486,7) Speak within door] Do not clamour so as to be heard beyond the house.
IV.ii.146 (486,8) the seamy side without] That is, inside out.
IV.iii.27 (490,2) and he, she lov’d, prov’d mad,/And did forsake her] I believe that mad only signifies wild, frantick, uncertain.
IV.iii.31 (490,3) I have much to do,/But to go hang my head] I have much ado to do any thing but hang my head. We might read,
Not to go hang my head.
This is perhaps the only insertion made in the latter editions which has improved the play. The rest seem to have been added for the sake of amplification, or of ornament. When the imagination had subsided, and the mind was no longer agitated by the horror of the action, it became at leisure to look round for specious additians. This addition is natural. Desdemona can at first hardly forbear to sing the song; she endeavours to change her train of thoughts, but her imagination at last prevails, and she sings it.
Des. “The poor soul sat singing by a sycamore-tree,
“Sing all a green willow]
This song, in two parts, is printed in a late collection of old ballads; the lines preserved here differ somewhat from the copy discovered by the ingenious collector.
Des. “I call’d my love false love; but what said
“Sing willow, &c.]
This couplet is not in the ballad, which is the complaint, not of a woman forsaken, but of a man rejected. These lines were probably added when it was accommodated to a woman.
IV.iii.94 (493,6) our former having] Our former allowance of experience.
IV.iii.107 (493,7) heaven me such usage send] —heaven me such uses send,] Such is the reading of the folio, and of the subsequent editions; but the old quarto has,
—such usage send.—
Usage is an old word for custom, and, I think, better than uses.
V.i.11 (494,1) I have rubb’d this young quat almost to the sense] In some editions,
I’ve rubb’d this young gnat almost to the sense,
And he grows angry.]
This is a passage much controverted among the editors. Sir T. Hanner reads quab, a gudgeon; not that a gudgeon can be rubbed to much sense, but that a man grossly deceived is often called a gudgeon. Mr. Upton reads quail, which he proves, by much learning, to be a very choleric bird. Dr. Warburton retains gnat, which is found in the early quarto. Theobald would introduce knot, a small bird of that name. I have followed the text of the folio, and third and fourth quartos.
A quat in the midland counties is a pimple, which by rubbing is made to smart, or is rubbed to sense. Roderigo is called a quat by the same mode of speech, as a low fellow is now termed in lay language a scab. To rub to the sense, is to rub to the quick.
V.i.37 (496,2) No passage?] No passengers? No body going by?
V.i.42 (499,4) a heary night] A thick cloudy night, in which an ambush may be commodiously laid.
V.ii.1 (499,4) It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul;—/Let me not name it] The abruptness of this soliloquy makes it obscure. The meaning, I think, is this: “I am here (says Othello in his mind) overwhelmed with horror. What is the reason of this perturbation? Is it want of resolution to do justice? Is it the dread of shedding blood? No; it is not the action that shocks me, but it is the cause, it is the cause, my soul; let me not name it to you, ye chaste stars; it is the cause.”
I must weep,
But they are cruel tears: this sorrel’s heavenly;
It strikes, where it doth love.—She wakes—]
This tenderness, with which I lament the punishment which justice compels me to inflict, is a holy passion.
I wish these two lines could be honestly ejected. It is the fate of Shakespeare to counteract his own pathos.
V.ii.65 (502,8) A murder, which I thought a sacrifice] This line is difficult. Thou hast hardened my heart, and makest me kill thee with the rage of a murderer, when I thought to have sacrificed thee to justice with the calmness of a priest striking a victim.
It must not be omitted, that one of the elder quartos reads, thou dost stone thy heart; which I suspect to be genuine. The meaning then will be, thou forcest me to dismiss thee from the world in the state of the murdered without preparation for death,when I intended that thy punishment should have been a sacrifice atoning for thy crime.
I am glad that I have ended my revisal of this dreadful scene. It is not to be endured.
V.ii.134 (505,3) false as water] As water that will support no weight, nor keep any impression.
V.ii.151 (506,4) villainy has made mocks with love] Villainy has taken advantage to play upon the weakness of a violent passion.
V.ii.162 (506,5) Thou hast not half that power to do me harm, /As I have to be hurt] [Hamner: to bear hurt] The Oxford Editor saw well the meaning of his author, but weakened his expression. She means to say, I have in this cause power to endure more than thou hast power to inflict.
V.ii.183 (507, 6) charm your tongue] I know not whether I have read, or whether my own thoughts hare suggested, an alteration of this passage. It seems to me not improbable, that Shakespeare wrote clam your tongue; to clam a bell, is to cover the clapper with felt, which drowns the blow, and hinders the sound.
V.ii.211 (509,7) she with Cassio had the act of shame/A thousand times committed] This is another passage which seems to suppose a longer space comprised in the action of this play than the scenes include.
V.ii.253 (512,2) It was a sword of Spain, the ice-brook’s temper] [In the first edition it is, Isebroke’s temper. Thence corrupted to Ice-brook’s.—Ebro’s temper; the waters of that river of Spain are particularly famous for tempering of steel. POPE.] I believe the old reading changed to ice-brook is right. Steel is hardened by being put red hot into very cold water.
I look down towards his feet; but that’s a fable.
If that thou be’st a devil, I cannot kill thee]
To see if, according to the common opinion, his feet be cloven.
V.ii.292 (513,4) Fall’n in the practice of a cursed slave] In the snare, by the stratagem.
V.ii.317 (514,5) in the interim] The first copy has, in the nick. It was, I suppose, thought upon revisal, that nick was too familiar.
V.ii.342 (515,6) Speak of me as I am] The early copies read, Speak of them as they are. The present reading has more force. (rev. 1778, X, 622, 6)
(520,2) General Observation. The beauties of this play impress themselves so strongly upon the attention of the reader, that they can draw no aid from critical illustration. The fiery openness of Othello, magnanimous, artless, and credulous, boundless in his confidence, ardent in his affection, inflexible in his resolution, and obdurate in his revenge; the cool malignity of Iago, silent in his resentment, subtle in his designs, and studious at once of his interest and his vengeance; the soft simplicity of Desdemona, confident of merit, and conscious of innocence, her artless perseverance in her suit, and her slowness to suspect that she can be suspected, are such proofs of Shakespeare’s skill in human nature, as, I suppose, it is vain to seek in any modern writer. The gradual progress which Iago makes in the Moor’s conviction, and the circumstances which he employs to inflame him, are so artfully natural, that, though it will perhaps not be said of him as he says of himself, that he is a man not easily jealous, yet we cannot but pity him, when at last we find him perplexed in the extreme.
There is always danger, lest wickedness, conjoined with abilities, should steal upon esteem, though it misses of approbation; but the character of Iago is so conducted, that he is from the first scene to the last hated and despised.
Even the inferior characters of this play would be very conspicuous in any other piece, not only for their justness, but their strength. Cassio is brave, benevolent, and honest, ruined only by his want of stubbornness to resist an insidious invitation. Roderigo’s suspicious credulity, and impatient submission to the cheats which he sees practised upon him, and which by persuasion he suffers to be repeated, exhibit a strong picture of a weak mind betrayed by unlawful desires to a false friend; and the virtue of Aemilia is such as we often find, worn loosely, but not cast off, easy to commit small crimes, but quickened and alarmed at atrocious villainies.
The scenes from the beginning to the end are busy, varied by happy interchanges, and regularly promoting the progression of the story; and the narrative in the end, though it tells but what is known already, yet is necessary to produce the death of Othello.
Had the scene opened in Cyprus, and the preceding incidents been occasionally related, there had been little wanting to a drama of the most exact and scrupulous regularity.
(LI 2) Appendix. Some apology perhaps is necessary for the inconvenience of an Appendix, which, however, we can justify by the strongest of all pleas, the plea of necessity. The Notes which it contains, whether communicated by correspondents, or collected from published volumes, were not within our reach when the plays were printed, to which they relate. Of that which chance has supplied, we could have no previous knowledge; and he that waited till the river should run dry, did not act with less reason than the Editor would do, who should suspend his publication for possibilities of intelligence, or promises of improvement. Had we foreseen the Oxford edition, the assistance we expected from it might have persuaded us to pause; but our volumes were completely finished before its publication. [There are no notes by Johnson in this Appendix; several are by Steevens.]