« VorigeDoorgaan »
The words of heaven;-on whom it will, it will;
1 Thus can the demi-god, Authority,
Make us pay down for our offence by weight.-
On whom it will not, so; yet still’tis just.] The sense of the whole is this: The demi-god Authority, makes us pay the full penalty of our offence, and its decrees are as little to be questioned as the words of heaven, which pronounces its pleasure thus,-1 punish and remit punishment according to my own uncontroulable will; and yet who can say, what dost thou ?- Make us pay down for our offence by weight, is a fine expression to signify paying the full penalty. The metaphor is taken from paying money by weight, which is always exact; not so by tale, on account of the practice of diminishing the species.' Warburton.
I suspect that a line is lost. Johnson,
Thus can tbe demi-god Authority,
The sword of heaven :-on whom, &c. Authority is then poetically called the sword of heaven, which will spare or punish, as it is commanded. The alteration is slight, being made only by taking a single letter from the end of the word, and placing it at the beginning:
This very ingenious and elegant emendation was suggested to me by the Reverend Dr. Roberts, Provost of Eton; and it may be countenanced by the following passage in The Gobler's Prophecy, 1594:
“ In brief, they are the swords of heaven to punish.” Sir W. D'Avenant, who incorporated this play of Shakspeare with Much Ado about Nothing, and formed out of them a Tragicomedy called The Law against Lovers, omits the two last lines of this speech; I suppose, on account of their seeming obscurity.
Steevens. The very ingenious emendation proposed by Dr. Roberts, is yet more strongly supported by another passage in the play before us, where this phrase occurs, Act III, sc. last:
“He who the sword of heaven will bear,
“ Should be as holy, as severe." Yet I believe the old copy is right. Malone.
Notwithstanding Dr. Roberts's ingenious conjecture, the text is certainly right." Authority, being absolute in Angelo, iś finely styled by Claudio, the demi-god. To this uncontroulable power, the poet applies a passage from St. Paul to the Romans, ch. ix, V. 15, 18, which he properly styles, the words of heaven : “ for he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, &c. And again: “ Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy,” &c. Henley.
Lucio. Why, how now, Claudio? whence comes this restraint?
Claud. From too much liberty, my Lucio, liberty: As surfeit is the father of much fast, So every scope by the immoderate use Turns to restraint: Our natures do pursue, (Like rats that ravin down their proper bane)2 A thirsty evil; and when we drink, we die. 3
Lucio. If I could speak so wisely under an arrest, I would send for certain of my creditors: And yet, to say the truth, I had as lief have the foppery of freedom, as the morality* of imprisonment.-What's thy offence, Claudio ?
Claud. What, but to speak of would offend again.
[Takes him aside.
It should be remembered, however, that the poet is here speaking not of mercy, but punishment. Malone.
Mr. Malone might have spared himself this remark, had he recollected that the words of St. Paul immediately following, and to which the Tc. referred, are" and whom he will be hardeneth.” See also the preceding verse. Henley. .
2 Like rats that ravin down their proper bane,] To ravin was formerly used for eagerly or voraciously devouring any thing: so in Wilson's Epistle to the Earl of Leicester, prefixed to his Discourse upon Usurye, 1572: “ For these bee the greedie cormoraunte wolfes indeed, that ravyn up both beaste and man."
Reed. Ravin is an ancient word for prey. So, in Noah's Flood, by Drayton:
“ As well of ravine, as that chew the cud.” Steevens.
when we drink, we die.] So, in Revenge for Honour, by Chapman:
“ Like poison'd rats, which when they ’ve swallowed
Steevens. as the morality -) The old copy has mortality. It was corrected by Sir William D'Avenant. Malone.
Lucio. A hundred, if they'll do you any good.-Is lechery so look'd after? Claud. Thus stands it with me :-Upon a true con
Lucio. With child, perhaps?
Claud. Unhappily, even so.
5 I got possession of Julietta's bed, &c.] This speech is surely too indelicate to be spoken concerning Juliet, before her face; for she appears to be brought in with the rest, though she has nothing to say. The Clown points her out as they enter; and yet, from Claudio's telling Lucio, that he knows the lady, &c. one would think she was not meant to have made her personal appearance on the scene. Steevens.
The little seeming impropriety there is, will be entirely removed, by supposing that when Claudio stops to speak to Lucio, the Provost's officers depart with Julietta. Ritson. Claudio may be supposed to speak to Lucio apart. Malone.
this we came not to,
Remaining in the coffer of her friends ;] This singular mode of expression certainly demands some elucidation. The sense appears to be this. « IVe did not think it proper publicly to celebrate our marriage; for this reason, that there might be no hindrance to the payment of Julietta's portion which was then in the bands of her friends ; from whom, therefore, we judged it expedient to conceal our love till we had gained their favour.” Propagation being here used to signify payment, must have its root in the Italian word pagare. Edinburgh Magazine for November, 1786.
I suppose the speaker means--for the sake of getting such a dower as her friends might hereafter bestow on her, when time had reconciled them to her clandestine marriage. Şteevens.
Perhaps we should read-only for prorogation. Malone.
7 the fault and glimpse of newness ;] Fault and glimpse have so little relation to each other, that both can scarcely
Or whether that the body public be
be right: we may read flash for fault: or, perhaps, we may reada
Whether it be the fault or glimpse That is, whether it be the seeming enormity of the action, or the glare of new authority. Yet the same sense follows in the next lines. Johnson.
Fault, I apprehend, does not refer to any enormous act done by the deputy, (as Dr. Johnson seems to have thought) but to The fault and glimpse is the same as the
faulty glimpse. And the meaning seems to be-Whether it be the fault of new. ness, a fault arising from the mind being dazzled by a novel ailthority, of which the new governor has yet had only a glimpse, has yet taken only a basty survey; or whether, &c. Shakspeare has nany similar expressions. Malone.
like unscour'd armour,] So, in Troilus and Cressida:
“ Like rusty mail in monumental mockery.” Steevens. 9 So long, that nineteen zodiacks have gone round,] The Duke, in the scene immediately following, says: Which for these fourteen years we have let slip. Theobald.
But this new governor
Freshly on me:] Lord Stafford, in the conclusion of his Defence in the House of Lords, had, perhaps, these lines in his thoughts:
“ It is now full two hundred and forty years since any man was touched for this alledged crime, to this height, before myself.
Let us rest contented with that which our fathers have left us; and not awake those sleeping lions, to our own destruction, by raking up a few musty records, that bave lain so many ages by the walls, quite forgotten and neglected.” Malone.
Lucio. I warrant, it is: and thy head stands so tickle on thy shoulders, that a milk-maid, if she be in love may sigh it off. Send after the duke, and appeal to him.
Claud, I have done so, but he's not to be found.
so tickle -] i. e. ticklish. This word is frequently used by our old dramatic authors. So, in Tbe true Tragedy of Marius and Scilla, 1594:
lords of Asia " Have stood on tickle terms." Again, in The Widow's Tears, by Chapman, 1612:
upon as tickle a pin as the needle of a dial.” Steevens.
ber approbation :] i. e. enter on her probation, or noviciate. So again, in this play:
“ I, in probation of a sisterhood.”-
“ Madam, for a twelvemonth's approbation,
-prone and speechless dialect,] I can scarcely tell what signification to give to the word prone. Its primitive and translated senses are well known. The author may, by a prone dia. lect, mean a dialect which men are prone to regard, or a dialect natural and unforced, as those actions seem to which we are prone. Either of these interpretations is sufficiently strained; but such distortion of words is not uncommon in our author For the sake of an easier sense, we may read:
in her youth
Such as moves men:
There is a prompt and speechless dialect. Fohnson. Prone, perhaps, may stand for humble, as a prone posture is a posture of supplication. So, in The Opportunity, by Shirley, 1640:
“ You have prostrate language.”
** The silence often of pure innocence