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If he did see his face, why then I know,
He thought to kiss him, and hath kill'd him so2.
'Tis true, 'tis true; thus was Adonis slain :
And nuzzling in his flank, the loving swine
2 He thought to kiss him, and hath kill'd him so.] This conceit of the boar's having killed Adonis inadvertently, when he meant only to kiss him, is found in the 30th Idyllium of Theocritus, but there was no translation of that poet in our author's time. So also, in a Latin poem De Adoni ab Apro Interempto, by Antonius Sebastianus Minturnus:
iterum atque juro iterum,
Formosum hunc juvenem tuum haud volui
Milton had, perhaps, our poet in his thoughts, when he wrote his verses on the death of his niece, in 1625, (the infant daughter of his sister Anne Philips,) in which we find the same conceit :
'O, fairest flow'r
"Summer's chief honour, if thou hadst out-lasted
3 Who DID not-] Thus the quarto 1593. The edition of 1596 reads "Who would not ;" which was followed in all the subsequent copies. MALONE.
the loving swine
Sheath'd, unaware, the tusk in his soft GROIN.] So, in The Sheepheard's Song of Venus and Adonis, 1600:
"On the ground he lay,
Had I been tooth'd like him, I must confess,
With this she falleth in the place she stood,
She looks upon his lips, and they are pale;
Two glasses, where herself herself beheld
"For an orped swine
"Smit him in the groyne;
Deadly wound his death did bring :
"Which when Venus found,
"She fell in a swound,
"And, awakte, her hands did wring." MALONE.
5 MY YOUTH with his ;] Thus the quarto 1593, and the copy
of 1596. The edition of 1636, and the modern copies, read
My mouth;" which cannot be right, for Adonis had granted her a kiss.
"He with her plenty press'd, she faint with dearth,
TWO LAMPS, burnt out, in darkness LIES.] The same want of grammar is discoverable in Cymbeline:
"His steeds to water at those springs
"On chalic'd flow'rs that lies." STEEVENS.
So, also, in King Richard II. :
"Two kinsmen digg'd their graves with weeping eyes." This inaccuracy may be found in every page of our author's works, as well as in those of many of his contemporaries and predecessors. In a very few places either the metre or the rhymes render it incurable. MALONE.
Their virtue lost, wherein they late excell'd,
Wonder of time, quoth she, this is my spite",
Since thou art dead, lo! here I prophesy,
It shall be fickle, false, and full of fraud;
7 this is my spite,] This is done purposely to vex and distress me. MALONE.
8 Ne'er settled equally, but HIGH, or Low ;] So, in The Midsummer Night's Dream:
"The course of true love never did run smooth, &c.
"O cross! too high to be enthrall'd to low," &c. STEEVENS. For" but high or low," the reading of the earliest copies, the edition of 1600 has-" too high or low;" but the adversative particle is necessary to the sense. Our author indeed should have written" but too high or low," &c. but the verse would not admit it. MALONE.
9 BUD and be blasted-] For this, which is the reading of the original copy of 1593, and that of 1596, the edition of 1600 has "And shall be blasted; " which has been followed in all the subsequent copies. MALONE.
o'er-STRAW'D:] So the old copy, and such perhaps was the pronunciation of o'er-strew'd in our author's time. Throughout this poem, however, as in The Fairy Queen of Spencer, the termination of words is frequently changed in the original edition for the sake of rhyme. MALONE.
To straw frequently occurs in our translation of the Scriptures. BOSWELL.
the TRUEST Sight-] So the quarto 1593, and 16mo. 1596. In the copy of 1600, and the modern editions, we have"the sharpest sight." MALONE.
It shall be sparing, and too full of riot,
It shall suspect, where is no cause of fear;
And most deceiving, when it seems most just; Perverse it shall be, where it shews most towards; Put fear to valour, courage to the coward,
It shall be cause of war 6, and dire events,
Sith in his prime death doth my love destroy,
3 and teach the fool to speak.] Perhaps our poet had here in his thoughts the Cymon and Iphigenia of Boccace. I have not seen, indeed, any earlier translation of that story than that published in 1620; but it is certain several of Boccace's stories had appeared in English before. MALONE.
to tread the MEASURES ;] To dance. See vol. vii. p. 35, The measures was a very stately dance, and therefore was peculiarly suited to elders, if they engaged at all in such kind of amusement. MALONE.
where it SHOWs most toward;] So the earliest copy. The modern editions, after that of 1600, read-" where it seems,' &c. MALONE.
6 It shall be cause of war, &c.] Several of the effects here predicted of love, in Timon of Athens are ascribed to gold.
7- their LOVES-] For this, which is the reading of the first copy, the edition of 1600, and those subsequent, have"their love." MALONE.
By this the boy that by her side lay kill'd,
She bows her head, the new-sprung flower to smell,
And says, within her bosom it shall dwell,
She crops the stalk, and in the breach appears Green dropping sap, which she compares to tears.
Poor flower, quoth she, this was thy father's guise,
And so 'tis thine; but know, it is as good
Here was thy father's bed, here in my breast';
8 Was MELTED like a VAPOUR- -] So, in Macbeth: and what seem'd corporal, melted STEEVENS.
"Like breath into the wind."
Again, in The Tempest:
These our actors,
"As I foretod you, were all spirits, and
"Are melted into air, into thin air." MALONE,
here IN my breast ;] "Here is my breast," edit. 1596.
MALONE. As Venus sticks the flower to which Adonis is turned, in her bosom, I think we must read against all the copies, and with much more elegance:
"Here was thy father's bed, here in my breast; for it was her breast which she would insinuate to have been Adonis' bed. The close of the preceding stanza partly warrants this change: