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Ant. From Sicyon how the news? Speak there. 1 Att. The man from Sicyon.--Is there such an one? 2 Att. He stays upon your will.4
The words lie still, appear to have been technically used by those who borrow their metaphors from husbandry. Thus Ascham, in his Toxophilus, edit. 1589, p. 32: “ - as a grounde which is apt for corne, &c. if a man let it lye still, &c. if it be wheate it will turne into rye.” Steevens.
Dr. Johnson thus explains the old reading:
“ The sense is, that man, not agitated by censure, like soil not ventilated by quick winds, produces more evil than good.” This certainly is true of soil, but where did Dr. Johnson find the word soil in this passage? He found only winds, and was forced to substitute soil ventilated by winds in the room of the word in the old copy; as Mr. Steevens, in order to extract a meaning from it, supposes winds to mean fallows, because “ the ridges left in lands turned up by the plough, are termed wind-rows; though surely the obvious explication of the latter word, rows exposed to the wind, is the true one. Hence the rows of new-mown grass laid in heaps to dry, are alsư called wind-rows.
The emendation which I have adopted, [minds, ] and which was made by Dr. Warburton, makes all perfectly clear; for if in Dr. Johnson's note we substitute, not cultivated, instead of—"not ventilated by quick winds,” we have a true interpretation of Antony's words as now exhibited. Our quick minds, means, our lively, apprehensive minds. So, in King Henry IV, P. II: “It ascends me into the brain ;--makes it apprehensive, quick, forgetive.”
Again, in this play: “ The quick comedians,” &c.
It is, however, proper to add Dr. Warburton's own interpretation : “ While the active principle within us lies immerged in sloth and luxury, we bring forth vices, instead of virtues, weeds instead of flowers and fruits; but the laying before us our ill condition plainly and honestly, is, as it were the first culture of the mind, which gives hope of a future harvest."
Being at all times very unwilling to depart from the old copy, I should not have done it in this instance, but that the word winds, in the only sense in which it has yet been proved to be used, af. fords no meaning; and I had the less scruple on the present occasion, because the same error is found in King John, Act V, sc. vii, where we have, in the only authentick copy:
“ Death, having prey'd upon the outward parts,
Against the wind." Malone. The observations of six commentators are here exhibited. To offer an additional line on this subject, (as the Messenger says to Lady Macduff,) “ were feil cruelty” to the reader. Steevens.
* He stays upon your will.] We meet with a similar phrase in Macbeth :
“Worthy Macbeth, we stay upon your leisure.” Steeneks.
Let him appear, These strong Egyptian fetters I must break,
Enter arother Messenger. Or lose myself in dotage. What are you?
2 Mess. Fulvia thy wife is dead. Ant.
Where died she? 2 Mess. In Sicyon: Her length of sickness, with what else more serious Importeth thee to know, this bears. [Gives a Letter. Ant.
-[Exit Mes. There's a great spirit gone! Thus did I desire it: What our contempts do often hurl from us, We wish it ours again ;5 the present pleasure, By revolution lowering, does become The opposite of itself:6 she 's good, being gone; The hand could pluck her back, that shov'd her on. I must from this enchanting queen break off;
* We wish it ours again.] Thus, in Sidney's Arcadia, Lib. II: “ We mone that lost which had we did bemone.” Steevens.
the present pleasure
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. Warburton.
This is an obscure passage. The explanation which Dr. Warburton has offered is such, that I can add nothing to it; yet, perhaps, Shakspeare, who was less learned than his commentator, meant only, that our pleasures, as they are revolved in the mind, turn to pain. Fohnson.
I rather understand the passage thus : What we often cast from us in contempt we wish again for, and what is at present our greatest pleasure, lowers in our estimation by the revolution of time; or by a frequent return of possession becomes undesirable and disagreeable. Tollet.
I believe revolution means change of circumstances. This sense appears to remove every difficulty from the passage.—The plea. sure of to-day, by revolution of events and change of circumstances, often loses all its value to us, and becomes to-morrow a pain.
Steevens. ? The hand could pluck her back, &c.] The verb could has a peculiar signification in this place; it does not denote power but inclination. The sense is, the hand that drove her off would now wil. lingly pluck her back again. Heath.
Could, would, and should, are a thousand times indiscriminately used in the old plays, and yet appear to have been so employed rather by choice than by chance. Steevens.
Ten thousand harms, more than the ills I know,
Eno. Why, then, we kill all our women: We see how mortal an unkindness is to them; if they suffer our departure, death 's the word.
Ant. I must be gone.
Eno. Under a compelling occasion, let women die: It were pity to cast them away for nothing; though, between them and a great cause, they should be esteemed nothing. Cleopatra, catching but the least noise of this, dies instantly; I have seen her die twenty times upon far poorer moment:: I do think, there is mettle in death, which commits some loving act upon her, she hath such a celerity in dying.
Ant. She is cunning past man's thought.
Eno. Alack, sir, no; her passions are made of nothing but the finest part of pure love: We cannot call her winds and waters, sighs and tears;. they are greater
-poorer moment:) For less reason; upon meaner motives.
Fohnson. 9 We cannot call her winds and waters, sighs and tears;] I once idly supposed that Shakspeare wrote- “ We cannot call her sighs and tears, winds and waters ;”—which certainly the phraseology we should now use. I mention such idle conjectures, however plausible, only to put all future commentators on their guard against suspecting a passage to be corrupt, because the diction is different from that of the present day. The arrangement of the text was the phraseology of Shakspeare, and probably of his time. So, in King Henry VIII:
“You must be well contented,
“To make your house our Tower.” We should certainly now write-to make our Tower your house. Again in Coriolanus :
“ What good condition 'can a treaty find,
« l' the part that is at mercy ?" i. e. how can the party that is at mercy or in the power of another, expect to obtain in a treaty terms favourable to them ?-See also a similar inversion in Vol. IV, p. 359, n. 7.
The passage, however, may be understood without any inversion.“ We cannot call the clamorous heavings of her breast, and the copious streams which flow from her eyes, by the ordinary name of sighs and tears; they are greater storms,” &c. Malone.
storms and tempests than almanacks can report: this cannot be cunning in her; if it be, she makes a shower of rain as well as Jove.
Ant. 'Would I had never seen her! Eno. O, sir, you had then left unseen a wonderful piece of ork; which not to have been blessed withal, would have discredited your travel.
Ant. Fulvia is dead.
Eno. Why, sir, give the gods a thankful sacrifice. When it pleaseth their deities to take the wife of a man from him, it shows to man the tailors of the earth; comforting therein, that when old robes are worn out, there are members to make new. If there were no more women but Fulvia, then had you indeed a cut, and the case to be lamented; this grief is crowned with consolation; your old smock brings forth a new petticoat:-and, indeed, the tears live in an onion,2 that should water this
Dr. Young has seriously employed this image, though suggested as a ridiculous one by Enobarbus :
Sighs there are tempests here,” says Carlos to Leonora, in The Revenge. Steevens.
it shows to man the tailors of the earth; comforting therein, &c.] I have printed this after the original, which, though harsh and obscure, I know not how to amend. Sir Thomas Hanmer reads—They show to man the tailors of the earth; comforting him therein, &c. I think the passage, with somewhat less alteration, for alteration is always dangerous, may stand thus-It shows to men the tailors of the earth, comforting them, &-c. Johnson.
The meaning is this, As the gods have been pleased to take away your wife Fulvia, so they have provided you with a new one in Cleopatra ; in like manner as the tailors of the earth, when your
gar. ments are worn out, accommodate you with new ones. Anonymous.
When the deities are pleased to take a man's wife from him, this act of theirs makes them appear to man like the tailors of the earth: affording this comfortable reflection, that the deities have made other women to supply the place of his former wife; as the tailor, when one robe is worn out, supplies him with another. Malone.
the tears live in an onion, &c.] So, in The Noble Soldier, 1634: “So much water as you might squeeze out of an onion VOL. XIII.
Ant. The business she hath broached in the state, Cannot endure my absence.
Eno. And the business you have broached here cannot be without you; especially that of Cleopatra's, which wholly depends on your abode.
Ant. No more light answers. Let our officers
had been tears enough,” &c. i. e. your sorrow should be a forced one. In another scene of this play we have onion-eyed; and, in The Taming of a Shrew, the lord says:
If the boy have not a woman's gift “ To rain a shower of commanding tears,
“ An onion will do well.” Again, in Hall's Virgidemiarum, Lib. VI:
“ Some strong-smeld onion shall stirre his eyes
“ Rather than no salt teares shall then arise.” Steevens: 3 The cause of our expedience -] Expedience for expedition.
get her love to part.] I have no doubt but we should read leave, instead of love. So afterwards:
“'Would she had never given you leave to come!” M. Mason. The old reading may mean— And prevail on her love to consent to our separation. Steevens. I suspect the author wrote:
And get her leave to part. The greater part of the succeeding scene is employed by An. tony, in an endeavour to obtain Cleopatra's permission to depart, and in vows of everlasting constancy, not in persuading her to forget him, or love him no longer :
I go from hence,
" As thou affect'st.” I have lately observed that this emendation had been made by Mr. Pope.-If the old copy be right, the words must mean, I will get her love to permit and endure our separation. But the word
get connects much more naturally with the word leave than with love.
The same error (as I have since observed] has happened in Titus Andronicus, and therefore I have no longer any doubt that leave was Shakspeare's word. In that play we find :
“ He loves his pledges dearer than his life," instead of-He leaves, &c. Malone.
more urgent touches,] Things that touch me more sensibly, more pressing motives. Föhnson.
So, Imogen says in Cymbeline :