« PreviousContinue »
Incurr'd a traitor's name; expos’d myself,
through the sight I have in things to come,
I have abandon'd Troy, to signify,“ by my power of prescience finding my country must be ruined, I have therefore abandoned it to seek refuge with you;” whereas the true sense is, “ Be it known unto you, that on ac. count of a gift or faculty I have of seeing things to come, which faculty I suppose would be esteemed by you as acceptable and useful, I have abandoned Troy my native country.” That he could not mean what the editor supposes, appears from these considerations: First, if he had represented himself as running from a falling city, he could never have said:
“I have expos'd myself,
“To doubtful fortunes; Secondly, the absolute knowledge of the fall of Troy was a secret hid from the inferior gods themselves; as appears from the poetical history of that war. It depended on many contingencies, whose existence they did not foresee. All that they knew was, that if such and such things happened, Troy would fall. And this secret they communicated to Cassandra only, but along with it, the fate not to be believed. Several others knew each a several part of the secret; one, that Troy could not be taken unless Achilles went to the war; another, that it could not fall while it had the palladium; and so on. But the secret, that it was absolutely to fall, was known to none. -The sense here given will ad. mit of no dispute amongst those who know how acceptable a scer was amongst the Greeks. So that this Calchas, like a true priest, if it needs must be so, went where he could exercise his profession with most advantage. For it being much less common amongst the Greeks than the Asiatics, there would be a greater demand for it. Warburton.
I am afraid, that after all the learned commentator's efforts to clear the argument of Calchas, it will still appear liable to objection; nor do I discover more to be urged in his defence, than that though his skill in divination determined him co leave Troy, yet that he joined himself to Agamemnon and his army by un. constrained good-will; and though he came as a fugitive escaping from destruction, yet his services after his reception, being voluntary and important, deserved reward. This argument is not regularly and distinctly deduced, but this is, I think, the best expli. cation that it will yet admit. Johnson.
In page 17, n. 3, an account has been given of the motives which induced Calchas to abandon Troy. The services to which he alludes, a short quotation from Lydgate will sufficiently explain. Auncient Hist. &c. 1555:
“ He entred into the oratorye,
“ And his things devoutly for to saye,
To doubtful fortunes; séquest'ring from me all
“And to the god crye and call full stronge ;
“ And be right helping to their good spede.” Mr. Theobald thinks it strange that Calchas should claim any merit for having joined the Greeks after he had said that he knew his country was undone; but there is no inconsistency: he had left, from whatever cause, what was dear to him, his country, friends, children, &c. and, having joined and served the Greeks, was entitled to protection and reward.
On the phrase-- As new into the world, (for so the old copy reads) I must observe, that it appears from a great number of passages in our old writers, the word into was formerly often used in the sense of unto, as it evidently is here. In proof of this assertion the following passages may be adduced:
“ It was a pretty part in the old church-playes when the nimble Vice would skip up nimbly like a jackanapes into the devil's necke, and ride the devil a course.” Harsnet's Declaration of Popish Impostures, 4to. 1602.
Again, in a letter written by J. Paston, July 8, 1468; Pastor Letters, Vol. II, p. 5: “ - and they that have justed with him into this day, have been as richly beseen,” &c.
Again, in Laneham's Account of the Entertainment at Kenelworth, 1575: “ what time it pleased her to ryde forth into the chase, to hunt the hart of fors; which found, anon," &c.
Chase, indeed, may mean here, the place in which the Queen hunted; but I believe it is employed in the more ordinary sense Again, in Daniel's Civil Warres, B. IV, st. 72, edit. 1602:
“She doth conspire to have him made away,---
“ But by her father's counsell and consent." Again, in our author's All's Well that Ends Well:
I'll stay at home, “ And pray God's blessing into thy attempt.” Malone. The folio reads
- in things to love, which appears to me to have no meaning, unless we adopt the
Made tame and most familiar to my nature;
explanation of Mr. Steevens, which would make sense of it. The present reading, though supported by Johnson and Malone, is little better than nonsense, and there is this objection to it, that it was Juno not Fove, that persecuted the Trojans. Fove wished them well; and though we may abandon a man to his enemies, we cannot, with propriety, say, that we abandon him to his friends. Let me add, that the speech of Calchas would have been in. complete, if he had said that he abandoned Troy, from the sight he bore of things, without explaining it, by adding the words-to
I should, therefore, adhere to that reading, which I con. sider as one of those happy amendments which do not require any authority to support them.
The merit of Calchas did not merely consist in his having comé over to the Greeks; he also revealed to them the fate of Troy, which depended on their conveying away the palladium, and the horses of Rhesus, before they should drink of the river Xanthus.
M. Mason. Antenor,] Very few particulars respecting this Trojan are preserved by Homer. But as Professor Heyne, in his seventh Excursus to the first Æneid, observes, “Fuit Antenor inter eos, in quorum rebus ornandis ii maxime scriptores laborarunt, qui nar. rationes Homericas novis commentis de suo onerarunt; non aliter ac si delectatio a mere fabulosis et temore effusis figmentis proficisceretur.” Steevens.
such a wrest in their affairs,] According to Dr. Johnson, who quotes this line in his Dictionary, the meaning is, that the loss of Antenor is such a violent distortion of their affairs, &c. But as in a former scene (see p. 44-n. 1,) we had o'er-rested for o'er-wrested, so here I strongly suspect wrest has been printed instead of rest. Antenor is such a stay or support of their affairs, &c. All the ancient English muskets had rests by which they vere supported. The subsequent words-wanting his manage
That their negotiations all must slack,
Let Diomed bear him,
Dio. This shall I undertake; and 'tis a burden Which I am proud to bear. [Exeunt D10. and CAC,
appear to me to confirm the emendation. To say that Antenor himself (for so the passage runs, not the loss of Antenor,) is a violent distortion of the Trojan negotiations, is little better than nonsense. Malone.
I have been informed that a wrest anciently signified a sort of wuning hammer, by which the strings of some musical instruments were screwed or wrested up to their proper degree of tension. Antenor's advice might be supposed to produce a congenial effect on the Trojan councils, which otherwise
must slack, Wanting his manage ;
Steevens. Wrest is not misprinted for rest, as Mr. Malone supposes, in his correction of Dr. Johnson, who has certainly mistaken the sense of this word. It means an instrument for tuning the harp by drawing up the strings. Laneham, in his Letter from Keniiworth, p. 50, describing a minstrel, says, his harp in good grace dependaunt before him; his wreast tyed to a green lace and hanging by.” And again, in Wynne's History of the Gwedir. Family: “ And setting forth very early before day, unwittingly carried ripon his finger the wrest of his cosen's harpe.” To wrest is to wind. See Minsheu's Dictionary. The form of the wrest may be seen in some of the illuminated service books, wherein David is represented playing on his harp; in the second part of Mersenna's Harmonics, p. 69; and in the Syntagmata of Prætorius, Vol. II, Fig. xix. Douce.
8 In most accepted pain.] Sir T. Hanmer, and Dr. Warburton after him read:
In most accepted pay. They do not seem to understand the construction of the passage. Her presence, says Calchas, shall strike off, or recompense the sernice I have done, even in those labeurs which were most accepted.
Enter ACHILLES and PATROCLUS, before their Tent.
Ulyss. Achilles stands i' the entrance of his tent:
Agam. We'll execute your purpose, and put on
Achil. What, comes the general to speak with me? You know my mind, I 'll fight no more 'gainst Troy.
Agam. What says Achilles? would he aught with us? Nest. Would you, my lord, aught with the general? Achil.
No. Nest. Nothing, my lord.
9 Why such unplausive eyes are bent, why turn’d on him:] If the eyes were bent on him, they were turnid on him. This tautology, therefore, together with the redundancy of the line, plainly show that we ought to read, with Sir Thomas Hanmer:
Why such unplausive eyes are bent on him: Steevens. * Here, I suspect, a line has been lost. The General is re. quested to pass strangely by Achilles, to notice him not. The princes are told to pursue a different conduct, to look upon him as on a thing unworthy of regard. From the first part of the de. fective line, I am of opinion the impression expected to be made on Achilles by the conduct recommended by the General, and the negligent or unrespective gaze of the princes, formed distinct descriptions. I think the meaning author must have intended is in substance
'Tis like he 'll question me
Such negligent regard-why turn'd on him? The words strangely and negligent regard I have introduced to render more clear the idea which I would wish to convey. Am. Ed.