« PreviousContinue »
Of hostile paces: those opposed eyes,
the face of the earth parch'd and crack'd as it always appears in a dry summer. As to its being personified, it is certainly no such unusual practice with Shakspeare. Every one talks familiarly of Mother Earth; and they who live upon her face, may without much impropriety be called her children. Our author only confines the image to his own country. The allusion is to the Barons' wars. Ritson.
The amendment which I should propose, is to read Erinnys, instead of entrance.-By Erinnys is meant the fury of discord. The Erinnys of the soil, may possibly be considered as an uncommon mode of expression, as in truth it is; but it is justified by a passage in the second Æneid of Virgil, where Æneas calls Helen
Trojæ et patriæ communis Erinnys. And an expression somewhat similar occurs in The First Part of King Henry VI. where Sir William Lucy says :
“ Iš Talbot slain ? the Frenchman's only scourge,
“ Your kingdom's terror, and black Nemesis?” It is evident that the words, “her own children, her fields, her flowrets," must all necessarily refer to this soil ; and that Shakspeare in this place, as in many others, uses the personal pronoun instead of the impersonal ; her instead of its ; unless we suppose he means to personify the soil, as he does in King Richard II, where Bolingbroke departing on his exile says:
sweet soil, adieu !
M. MASON. Mr. M. Mason's conjecture (which I prefer to any explanation hitherto offered respecting this difficult passage,) may receive support from N. Ling's Epistle prefixed to Wit's Commonwealth, 1598 :
- I knowe there is nothing in this worlde but is subject to the Erynnis of ill-disposed persons." The same phrase also occurs in the tenth book of Lucan:
Dedecus Ægypti, Latio feralis Erinnys." Again, in the 5th Thebaid of Statius, v. 202 :
cuncta suo regnat Erinnys
Pectore. Amidst these uncertainties of opinion, however, let me present our readers with a single fact on which they may implicitly rely; viz, that Shakspeare could not have designed to open his play with a speech, the fisth line of which is obscure enough to demand a series of comments thrice as long as the dialogue to which it is appended. All that is wanted, on this emergency, seems to bema just and striking personification, or, rather, a proper name.
All of one nature, of one substance bred,
The former of these is not discoverable in the old reading-entrance ; but the latter, furnished by Mr. M. Mason, may, I think, be safely admitted, as it affords a natural unembarrassed introduction to the train of imagery that succeeds.
Let us likewise recollect, that, by the first editors of our author, Hyperion had been changed into Epton; and that Marston's Insatiate Countess, 1613, concludes with a speech so darkened by corruptions, that the comparison in the fourth line of it is absolutely unintelligible.-It stands as follows:
Night, like a masque, is entred heaven's great hall, “ With thousand torches ushering the way: “ To Risus will we consecrate this evening, “ Like Messermis cheating of the brack,
“Weele make this night the day,” &c.* Is it impossible, therefore, that Erinnys may have been blundered into entrance, a transformation almost as perverse and mysterious as the foregoing in Marston's tragedy?
Being nevertheless aware that Mr. M. Mason's gallant effort to produce an easy sense, will provoke the slight objections and petty cavils of such as restrain themselves within the bounds of timid conjecture, it is necessary I should subjoin, that his present emendation was not inserted in our text on merely my own judgement, but with the deliberate approbation of Dr. Farmer.-Having now prepared for controversy-signa canant ! STEEVENS.
Although a compositor might easily fall into an error in printing an uncommon proper name, such as Mycerinus, yet Erinnys for entrance, is, as far as I can learn, a blunder which could scarcely by possibility have happened. To Mr. Steevens's first conjecture, which he has preserved, although afterwards inclined to dismiss it for Mr. Mason's “ gallant effort," it may be objected that
* Since my introduction of this corrupted line, I have discovered the true sense of it. Read :
“ Like Mycerinus cheating of the oracle,
The printer took the MS. o for a b, and the le for a k. See the Euterpe of Herodotus, for the history of Mycerinus, who, changing night into day, by means of lamps and torches, and thus apparently multiplying his predicted six years of life into twelve, designed to convict the oracle of falsehood. STBEVENS.
And furious close of civil butchery,
thirsty is not a very suitable epithet to be applied to invaders. Mr. Malone seems to think that the reading of the old copies, entrance, presents a broken metaphor. I should wish to adopt Mr. Douce's conjecture, and read-entrails, and the meaning will then be : “ No more the thirsty entrails of this soil shall cause her to daub her lips with her own children's blood.” It is not, I apprehend, an uncommon licence in language to represent the cause of a thing as actually doing it. So, in Antonio and Mellida:
“ Now lions half-clem'd entrails roar for food." Here surely it is not meant that the entrails roared, which would suggest a ludicrous image; but that the lion, whose entrails were half-clem'd with hunger, roared for food. BOSWELL.
like the METEORS OF A TROUBLED HEAVEN,] Namely, long streaks of red, which represent the lines of armies; the appearance of which, and their likeness to such lines, gave occasion to all the superstition of the common people concerning armies in the air, &c. WARBURTON,
5 As far as to the sepulchre, &c.] The lawfulness and justice of the holy wars have been much disputed; but perhaps there is a principle on which the question may be easily determined. If it be part of the religion of the Mahometans to extirpate by the sword all other religions, it is, by the laws of self-defence, lawful for men of every other religion, and for Christians among others, to make wår upon Mahometans, simply as Mahometans, as men obliged by their own principles to make war upon Christians, and only lying in wait till opportunity shall promise them success.
JOHNSON. Upon this note Mr. Gibbon makes the following observation : “ If the reader will turn to the first scene of The First Part of King Henry IV. he will see in the text of Shakspeare, the natural feelings of enthusiasm ; and in the notes of Dr. Johnson, the workings of a bigotted, though vigorous mind, greedy of every pretence to hate and persecute those who dissent from his creed.”
Gibbon's History, vol. vi. 9, 4to. edit. Reed. Mr. Gibbon's petulant remark was a gross misrepresentation of Johnson's meaning. He does not say that Mahometans may be persecuted because their creed is false; but, that we are justified,
(Whose soldier now, under whose blessed cross
West. My liege, this haste was hot in question,
upon the ground of self-defence, in making war upon those who
“ Never did thought of mine levy offence.” Steevens.
“The expression, (says Mr. Gifford in his Ben Jonson, vol. v.
7 Therefore we meet not now:] i. e. not on that account do
8- this dear EXPEDIENCE.) For expedition. WARBURTON.
I shall break
But yesternight: when, all athwart, there came
broil Brake off our business for the Holy land. West. This, match'd with other, did, my gra
* Folio, And a. Limits, as Mr. Heath observes, may mean, outlines, rough sketches, or calculations. Steevens
Limits may mean the regulated and appointed times for the conduct of the business in hand.' So, in Measure for Measure :“ between the time of the contract and limit of the solemnity, her brother Frederick was wrecked at sea.” Again, in Macbeth:
- I'll make so bold to call, “ For 'tis my limited service." Malone. 1 By those Welshwomen done,] Thus Holinshed, p. 528 : “ – such shameful villanie executed upon the carcasses of the dead men by the Welshwomen; as the like (I doo beleeve) hath never or sildome beene practised." See T. Walsingham, p. 557.
STEEVENS. the gallant Hotspur there, Young Harry Percy,) Holinshed's History of Scotland, p. 240, says: " This Harry Percy was surna
named, for his often pricking, Henry Hotspur, as one that seldom times rested, if there were anie service to be done abroad.” TOLLET.
Archibald,] Archibald Douglas, earl Douglas. Steevens.