« VorigeDoorgaan »
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:
I will remain
“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
Of sea and land,] He is here speaking of the covering of sea and land. Shakspeare therefore wrote:
and the rich cope." WARBurton.
Surely no emendation is necessary. The vaulted arch is alike the cope or covering of sea and land. When the poet had spoken of it once, could he have thought this second introduction of it necessary ? "The crop of sea and land means only the productions 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 epi-
(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? LACH. 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. : "Are still together, who twin as 'twere in love." 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. lachimo, in this counterfeited rapture, has shown how the eyes and the judgment would determine in favour of Imogen, comparing her with
IMO. What is the matter, trow?
IACH. The cloyed will ®, (That satiate yet unsatisfied desire, that tub
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 no object.
Dr. Warburton and Dr. Johnson have both taken the pains to give their different senses of this passage; but I am still unable to comprehend how desire, or any other thing, can be made to vomit emptiness. I rather believe the passage should be read thus: Sluttery to such neat excellence oppos'd,
"Should make desire vomit, emptiness
"Not so allure to feed."
That is, Should not so, [in such circumstances] allure [even] emptiness to feed. TYRWHITT.
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.' JOHNSON.
No one who has been ever sick at sea, can be at a loss to understand what is meant by vomiting emptiness. Dr. Johnson's interpretation would perhaps be more exact, if after the word desire he had added, however hungry, or sharp set.
A late editor, Mr. Capell, was so little acquainted with his author, as not to know that Shakspeare here, and in some other places, uses desire as a trisyllable; in consequence of which, he reads "vomit to emptiness." MALONE.
The indelicacy of this passage may be kept in countenance by the following lines and stage-directions in the tragedy of All for Money, by T. Lupton, 1578:
"Now will I essay to vomit if I can ;
"Let him hold your head, and I will hold your stomach," &c. "Here Money shall make as though he would vomit."
"Here Pleasure shall make as though he would vomit." STEEVENS.
8 The cloyed will, &c.] The present irregularity of metre has almost persuaded me that this passage originally stood thus :
The cloyed will,
"(That's satiate, yet unsatisfied, that tub
"Both fill'd and running,) ravening first the lamb,
"Longs after for the garbage.
Both fill'd and running,) ravening first the lamb, Longs after for the garbage.
Thus raps you? Are you well?
What, dear sir,
IACH. Thanks, madam; well:-'Beseech, you, sir,
My man's abode where I did leave him: he
Is strange and peevish9.
The want, in the original MS. of the letter I have supplied, perhaps occasioned the interpolation of the word-desire.
IS STRANGE and peevish.] He is a foreigner, and easily fretted. JOHNSON.
Strange, I believe, signifies shy or backward. So, Holinshed, p. 735: brake to him his mind in this mischievous matter, in which he found him nothing strange."
Peevish anciently meant weak, silly. So, in Lyly's Endymion, 1591: "Never was any so peevish to imagine the moon either capable of affection, or shape of a mistress." Again, in his Galatea, [1592,] when a man has given a conceited answer to a plain question, Diana says, "let him alone, he is but peevish." Again, in his Love's Metamorphosis, 1601: "In the heavens I saw an orderly course, in the earth nothing but disorderly love and peevishness." Again, in Gosson's School of Abuse, 1579: "We have infinite poets and pipers, and such peevish cattel among us in Englande." Again, in The Comedy of Errors:
"How now! a madman! why thou peevish sheep,
"No ship of Epidamnum stays for me." Minsheu, in his Dictionary, 1617, explains peevish by foolish. So again, in our author's King Richard III. :
"When Richmond was a little peevish boy."
So also in Henry VI. Third Part, Act V. Sc. I.:
'Why what a peevish fool was that of Crete."
Strange is again used by our author in his Venus and Adonis, in the sense in which Mr. Steevens supposes it to be used here: "Measure my strangeness by my unripe years."
Again, in Romeo and Juliet:
"I'll prove more true
"Than those that have more cunning to be strange."
But I doubt whether the word was intended to bear that sense here. MALone.
Johnson's explanation of strange [he is a foreigner] is certainly right. Iachimo uses it again in the latter end of this scene: VOL. XIII.