Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

Not by the title. She is young, wise, fair;
In these to nature she's immediate heir;2
And these breed honour: that is honour 's scorn,
Which challenges itself as honour 's born,
And is not like the sire:3 Honours best thrive,
When rather from our acts we them derive

[ocr errors]

without the addition of titles) is good. Vileness is so (i. e. is it. self.) Either of them is what its name implies:

“ The property by what it is should go,
“Not by the title

“ Let's write good angel on the devil's horn,
“'Tis not the devil's crest.” Measure for Measure.

Steevens. Steevens's last interpretation of this passage is very near being right; but I think it should be pointed thus:

good alone Is good;—without a name, vileness is so. Meaning that good is good without any addition, and vileness would still be vileness, though we had no such name to distin. guish it by. A similar expression occurs in Macbeth:

Though all things foul would wear the brows of grace,

Yet grace must still look so.That is, grace would still be grace, as vileness would still be vileness. M. Mason.

The meaning is,-Good is good, independent on any wordly distinction or title: so vileness is vile, in whatever state it may appear. Malone.

-2 In these to nature she's immediate heir;] To be immediate heir is to inherit without any intervening transmitter: thus she inherits beauty immediately from nature, but honour is transmitted by ancestors. Johnson.

that is honour's scorn,
Which challenges itself as honour's born,

And is not like the sire:] Perhaps we might read more ele. gantly- -as honour-born,-honourably descended: the child of hon.

Malone. Honour's born, is the child of honour. Born is here used, as bairn still is in the North. Henley.

4 And is not like the sire: Honours best thrive, &c.] The first folio omits-best; but the second folio supplies it, as it is necessary to enforce the sense of the passage, and complete its mea

Steevens. The modern editors read-Honours best thrive; in which they have followed the editor of the second folio, who introduced the word best unnecessarily; not observing that sire was used by our author, like fire, hour, &c. as a dissyllable. Malone.

Where is an example of sire, used as a dissyllable, to be found ? Fire and hour were anciently written fier and horer; and conse

3

Our.

sure.

Than our fore-goers: the mere word 's a slave,
Debauch'd on every tomb; on every grave,
A lying trophy, and as oft is dumb,
Where dust, and damn'd oblivion, is the tomb
Of honour'd bones indeed. What should be said?
If thou canst like this creature as a maid,
I can create the rest: virtue, and she,
Is her own dower: honour, and wealth, from me.

Ber. I cannot love her, nor will strive to do 't.
King. Thou wrong'st thyself, if thou should'st strive

to choose. Hel. That you are well restor’d, my lord, I am glad; Let the rest go..

King. My honour 's at the stake; which to defeat,
I must produce my power:5 Here, take her hand,
Proud scornful boy, unworthy this good gift;
That dost in vile misprision shackle up
My love, and her desert; that canst not dream,
We, poizing us in her defective scale,
Shall weigh thee to the beam:6 that wilt not know,

[ocr errors]

tion.

our.

quently the concurring vowels could be separated in pronuncia

Steevens. 5 My honour 's at the stake; which to defeat,

I must produce my power:] The poor King of France is again made a man of Gotham, by our unmerciful editors. For he is not to make use of his authority to defeat, but to defend his hon

Theobald. Had Mr. Theobald been aware that the implication or clause of the sentence (as the grammarians say) served for the antecedent “ Which danger to defeat,” there had been no need of his wit or his alteration. Farmer.

Notwithstanding Mr. Theobald's pert censure of former edi. tors for retaining

the word defeat, I should be glad to see it restored again, as I am persuaded it is the true reading. The French verb defaire (from whence our defeat) signifies to free, to disembarrass, as well as to destroy. Defaire un naud, is to untie a knot; and in this sense, I apprehend, defeat is here used. It may be observed, that our verb undo has the same varieties of signification; and I suppose even Mr. Theobald would not have been much puzzled to find the sense of this passage, if it had been written; --My honour 's at the stake, which to undo I must produce my power. Tyrwhitt.

that canst not dream, We, poizing us in her defective scale, Shall weigh thee to the beam ;] That canst not understand,

6

It is in us to plant thine honour, where
We please to have it grow: Check thy contempt:
Obey our will, which travails in thy good:
Believe not thy disdain, but presently
Do thine own fortunes that obedient right,
Which both thy duty owes, and our power claims;
Or I will throw thee from my care for ever,
Into the staggers, and the careless lapse
Of youth and ignorance; both my revenge and hate,
Loosing upon thee in the name of justice,
Without all terms of pity : Speak; thine answer.

Ber. Pardon, my gracious lord; for I submit
My fancy to your eyes: When I consider,
What great creation, and what dole of honour,
Flies where you bid it, I find, that she, which late
Was in my nobler thoughts most base, is now
The praised of the king; who, so ennobled,
Is, as 'twere, born so.
King.

Take her by the hand,
And tell her, she is thine: to whom I promise
A counterpoize; if not to thy estate,
A balance more replete.
Ber.

I take her hand.
King. Good fortune, and the favour of the king,
Smile upon this contráct; whose ceremony
Shall seem expedient on the now-born brief,
And be perform’d to-night:8 the solemn feast

that if you and this maiden should be weighed together, and our royal favours should be thrown into her scale, (which you esteem so light) we should make that in which you should be placed, to strike the beam. Malone.

? Into the staggers,] One species of the staggers, or the horse's apoplexy, is a raging impatience, which makes the animal dash himself with a destructive violence against posts or walls. To this the allusion, I suppose, is made. Johnson.

Shakspeare has the same expression in Cymbeline, where Posthumus says: “ Whence come these staggers on me?"

Steevens.
whose ceremony
Shall seem expedient on the now-born brief,

And be perform’d to-night:] Several of the modern editors read-new-born brief. Steevens.

This, if it be at all intelligible, is at least obscure and inaccurate. Perhaps it was written thus :

VOL, V.

8

U

Shall more attend upon the coming space,
Expecting absent friends. As thou lov'st her,

what ceremony

Shall seem expedient on the now-born brief,
Shall be perform’d to-night; the solemn feast

Shall more attend The brief is the contract of espousal, or the license of the church. The King means, What ceremony is necessary to make this contract a marriage, shall be immediately performed; the rest may be delayed. Johnson.

The only authentick ancient copy reads-now-born. I do not perceive that any change is necessary. Malone.

The whole speech is unnaturally expressed; yet I think it intelligible as it stands, and should therefore reject Johnson's amendment and explanation.

The word brief does not here denote either a contract or a li. cense, but is an adjective, and means short or contracted: and the words on the now-born, signify for the present, in opposition to upon the coming space, which means hereafter. The sense of the whole passage seems to be this:-" The king and fortune smile on this contract, the ceremony of which it seems expedient to abridge for the present; the solemn feast shall be performed at a future time, when we shall be able to assemble friends.” M. Mason.

Though I have inserted the foregoing note, I do not profess to comprehend its meaning fully. Sliakspeare uses the words expedience, expedient, and expediently, in the sense of haste, quick, ex. peditiously. A brief, in ancient language, means any short and summary writing or proceeding. The now-born brief is only another phrase for the contract recently and suddenly made. The ceremony of it (says the king) shall seem to hasten after its short preli. minary, and be performed to-night, &c. Steevens.

Now-born, the epithet in the old copy, prefixed to brief, unquestionably ought to be restored. The now-born brief, is the breve originale of the feudal times, which in this instance, formally notified the king's consent to the marriage of Bertram, his ward. Henley.

Our author often uses brief in the sense of a short note, or in. timation concerning any business; and sometimes without the idea of writing. So, in the last Act of this play:

She told me “ In a sweet verbal brief,&c. Again, in the Prologue to Sir John Oldcastle, 1600:

“To stop which scruple let this brief suffice:

“ It is no pamper'd glutton we present,” &c. The meaning therefore of the present passage, I believe, is : Good fortune, and the king's favour, smile on this short contract; the ceremonial part of which shall immediately pass-shall follow close on the troth now plighted between the parties, and be performed this night; the solemn feast shall be delayed to a future time. Malone.

Thy love's to me religious; else, does err.

[Exeunt King, BER. HEL. Lords, and Attendants." Laf. Do you hear, monsieur? a word with you. Par. Your pleasure, sir?

Laf. Your lord and master did well to make his recantation.

Par. Recantation ?- My lord? my master?
Laf. Ay; Is it not a language, I speak?

Par. A most harsh one; and not to be understood without bloody succeeding. My master?

Laf. Are you companion to the count Rousillon? Par. To any count; to all counts; to what is man.

Laf. To what is count's man; count's master is of another style.

Par. You are too old, sir; let it satisfy you, you are too old.

Laf. I must tell thee, sirrah, I write man; to which title age cannot bring thee.

Par. What I dare too well do, I dare not do.

Laf. I did think thee, for two ordinaries, 1 to be a pretty wise fellow; thou didst make tolerable vent of thy travel; it might pass: yet the scarfs, and the bannerets, about thee, did manifoldly dissuade me from believing thee a vessel of too great a burden. I have now found thee; when I lose thee again, I care not: yet art thou good for nothing but taking up;and that thou art scarce worth.

Par. Hadst thou not the privilege of antiquity upon thee,

Laf. Do not plunge thyself too far in anger, lest thou hasten thy trial; which if—Lord have mercy on thee for a hen! So, my good window of lattice, fare thee well;

9 The old copy has the following singular continuation: Paroi. les and Lafeu stay behind, commenting of this wedding. This could have been only the marginal note of a prompter, and was never designed to appear in print. Steevens. To comment means,

believe, to assume the appearance of persons deeply engaged in thought. Malone. - for two ordinaries,] While I sat twice with thee at table.

Fohnson. taking up;] To take up is to contradict, to call to account; as well as to pick off the ground. Johnson.

1

2

« PredošláPokračovať »