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Enter PISANIO and IACHIMO.
PIs. Madam, a noble gentleman of Rome; Comes from my lord with letters.
Who gratify their innocent wishes with reasonable enjoyments. JOHNSON.
I shall venture at another explanation, which, as the last words are admitted to be equivocal, may be proposed. "To be able to refine on calamity (says she) is the miserable privilege of those who are educated with aspiring thoughts and elegant desires. Blessed are they, however mean their condition, who have the power of gratifying their honest inclination, which circumstance bestows an additional relish on comfort itself.”
"You lack the season of all natures, sleep." Macbeth. Again, in Albumazar, 1615:
the memory of misfortunes past
"Seasons the welcome." STEEVENS.
In my apprehension, Imogen's sentiment is simply this: "Had I been stolen by thieves in my infancy, (or, as she says in another place, born a neat-herd's daughter,) I had been happy. But instead of that, I am in a high, and, what is called, a glorious station; and most miserable in such a situation! Pregnant with calamity are those desires, which aspire to glory; to splendid titles, or elevation of rank! Happier far are those, how low soever their rank in life, who have it in their power to gratify their virtuous inclinations: a circumstance that gives an additional zest to comfort itself, and renders it something more; or (to borrow our author's words in another place) which keeps comfort always fresh and lasting.
A line in Timon of Athens may perhaps prove the best comment on the former part of this passage:
"O the fierce wretchedness that glory brings!'
In King Henry VIII. also, Anna Bullen utters a sentiment that bears a strong resemblance to that before us:
I swear, 'tis better
"To dwell with humble livers in content,
"Than to be perk'd up in a glist'ring grief,
Of the verb to season, (of which the true explanation was originally given by Mr. Steevens,) so many instances occur as fully to justify this interpretation. It is used in the same metaphorical sense in Daniel's Cleopatra, a tragedy, 1594:
"This that did season all my sour of life—."
Again, in our author's Romeo and Juliet :
Change you, madam ?
The worthy Leonatus is in safety,
And greets your highness dearly. [Presents a letter. Thanks, good sir:
You are kindly welcome.
IACH. All of her, that is out of door, most rich!
If she be furnish'd with a mind so rare,
Have lost the wager. Boldness be my friend!
Or, like the Parthian, I shall flying fight;
IMO. [Reads.]-He is one of the noblest note, to whose kindnesses I am most infinitely tied. Reflect upon him accordingly, as you value your trust LEONATUS.
"How much salt water thrown away in waste,
Again, in Twelfth-Night:
All this to season
“A brother's dead love, which she would keep fresh
I agree with Steevens that the word seasons, in this place, is used as a verb, but not in his interpretation of the former part of this passage. Imogen's reflection is merely this: "That those are happy who have their honest wills, which gives a relish to comfort; but that those are miserable who set their affections on objects of superior excellence, which are of course, difficult to obtain." The word honest means plain or humble, and is opposed to glorious. M. MASON.
4 Reflect upon him accordingly, as you value your TRUST
Were Leonatus writing to his Steward, this style might be proper; but it is so strange a conclusion of a letter to a princess, and a beloved wife, that it cannot be right. I have no doubt therefore that we ought to read :
as you value your TRUEST.
So far I read aloud:
But even the very middle of my heart
Is warm'd by the rest, and takes it thankfully.—
This emendation is at once so neat and elegant, that I cannot refuse it a place in the text; and especially as it returns an echo to the words of Posthumus when he parted from Imogen, and dwelt so much on his own conjugal fidelity:
"The loyal'st husband that did e'er plight troth."
Mr. M. Mason's conjecture would have more weight, if it were certain that these were intended as the concluding words of the letter. It is more probable that what warmed the very middle of the heart of Imogen, formed the conclusion of Posthumus's letter; and the words -so far, and by the rest, support that supposition. Though Imogen reads the name of her husband, she might suppress somewhat that intervened. Nor, indeed, is the adjuration of light import, or unsuitable to a fond husband, supposing it to be the conclusion of the letter. Respect my friend, says Leonatus, as you value the confidence reposed in you by him to whom you have plighted your troth. MALOne.
It is certain, I think, from the break-" He is one," &c. that the omitted part of the letter was at the beginning of it; and that what follows (all indeed that was necessary for the audience to hear,) was its regular and decided termination.-Was it not natural, that a young and affectionate husband, writing to a wife whom he adored, should express the feelings of his love, before he proceeded to the detail of his colder business? STEEVENS.
Mr. Steevens forgets that this is not a love letter, written in the ordinary course by Posthumus to Imogen, but a letter of recommendation, written for the express purpose of introducing lachimo to her. The paragraph therefore, "read aloud," was probably the very second sentence of her letter, as the first would naturally contain his name and quality-and after he has apprized her who the bearer of his letter is, and requested her to treat him kindly for his sake, he would naturally proceed to that which “warmed the very middle of her heart.”
Independent indeed of this consideration, if the learned commentator had been more conversant with these expressions of tenderness, he would have known that there is no part of a letter in which they are more likely to be found than in the end, and that no man who truly loved a woman would let his concluding words treat of the colder business, that had no connexion with his passion. On the contrary, the warmest and most passionate assurances of affection are always found there. MALONE.
Have words to bid you; and shall find it so,
Thanks, fairest lady.
What! are men mad? Hath nature given them eyes
5- and the rich CROP
Of sea and land,] He is here speaking of the covering of sea and land. Shakspeare therefore wrote: and the rich cope
The vaulted arch is alike When the poet had spoken second introduction of it means only the pro
Surely no emendation is necessary. the cope or covering of sea and land. of it once, could he have thought this necessary? “The crop of sea and land ductions of either element.' STEEVENS. 6- and the twinn'd stones
Upon the NUMBER'D beach ?] I have no idea in what sense the beach, or shore, should be called number'd. I have ventured, against all the copies, to substitute
Upon th' unnumber'd beach ?”
i. e. the infinite extensive beach, if we are to understand the epithet as coupled to the word. But, I rather think, the poet intended an hypallage, like that in the beginning of Ovid's Metamorphosis :
(In nova fert animus mutatas dicere formas
And then we are to understand the passage thus: "and the infi-
i. e. because daily insulted from the flow of the tide.
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. JOHNSON.
The pebbles on the sea shore are so much of the same size and shape, that twinn'd may mean as like as twins. So, in The Maid of the Mill, by Beaumont and Fletcher :
But is it possible that two faces
"Should be so twinn'd in form, complexion," &c.
Partition make with spectacles so precious "Twixt fair and foul?
What makes your admiration? IACH. It cannot be i' the eye; for apes and mon
"Twixt two such shes, would chatter this way, and Contemn with mows the other: Nor i' the judg
For idiots, in this case of favour, would
Again, in our author's Coriolanus, Act IV. Sc. IV. :
Mr. Heath conjectures the poet might have written—spurn'd He might possibly have written that or any other word. -In Coriolanus, a different epithet is bestowed on the beach : "Then let the pebbles on the hungry beach
Fillop the stars--."
Dr. Warburton's conjecture may be countenanced by the following passage in Spenser's Fairy Queen, b. vi. c. vii. :
"But as he lay upon the humbled grass. STEEVENS.
I think we may read the umbered, the shaded beach. This word is met with in other places. FARMER.
Farmer's amendment is ill-imagined. There is no place so little likely to be shaded as the beach of the sea; and therefore umber'd cannot be right. M. MASON.
Mr. Theobald's conjecture may derive some support from a passage in King Lear:
the murm'ring surge
"That on th' unnumber'd idle pebbles chases—." Th' unnumber'd, and the number'd, if hastily pronounced, might easily have been confounded by the ear. If number'd be right, it surely means, as Dr. Johnson has explained it, abounding in numbers of stones; numerous. MALONE.
7 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. WARBurton.
I explain this passage in a sense almost contrary. Iachimo, in this counterfeited rapture, has shown how the eyes and the judgment would determine in favour of Imogen, comparing her with