Page images
PDF

Anne.

So much the more
Must pity drop upon her. Verily,
I swear, 'tis better to be lowly born,
And range with humble livers in content,
Than to be perk'd up in a glistering grief,
And wear a golden sorrow.
Old L.,

Our content
Is our best having
Anne.

By my troth, and maidenhead,
I would not be a queen.
Old L.

Beshrew me, I would,
And venture maidenhead for 't; and so would you,
For all this spice of your hypocrisy:
You, that have so fair parts of woman on you,
Have too a woman's heart; which ever yet
Affected eminence, wealth, sovereignty;
Which, to say sooth, are blessings : and which gifts
(Saving your mincing) the capacity
Of your soft cheveril? conscience would receive,
If you might please to stretch it.
Anne.

Nay, good troth-
Old L. Yes, troth, and trothy You would not be a

queen? Anne. No, not for all the riches under heaven. Old L. 'Tis strange; a three-pence bow'd would hire

me,

stranger to his bed; for she still retained the rights of an Eng. lishwoman, and was princess dowager of Wales. So, in the second scene of the third Act:

" Katharine no more
- Shall be call'd queen; but princess dowager,

“And widow to prince Arthur.” Tollet. Dr. Johnson's interpretation appears to me to be the true one.

Malone. I agree with Mr. Tollet. So, in King Lear:

« Dower'd with our curse, and stranger'd with our oath,” i.e. the revocation of my love has reduced her to the condition of an unfriended stranger. Steevens.

6 our best having.) That is, our best possession. So, in Macbeth:

“Of noble having and of royal hope.” In Spanish, hazienda. Fohnson.

1cheveril — ] is kid-skin, soft leather. Johnson. So, in Histriomastix, 1610 ;

“The cheveril conscience of corrupted law. Steevens.

Old as I am, to queen it: But, I pray you,
What think you of a duchess ? have you limbs
To bear that load of title?
Anne.

No, in truth.
Old L. Then you are weakly made : Pluck off a

little;8
I would not be a young count in your way,
For more than blushing comes to: if your back
Cannot vouchsafe this burden, 'tis too weak
Ever to get a boy.
Anne.

How you do talk!
I swear again, I would not be a queen
For all the world.
Old L.

In faith, for little England
You'd venture an emballing: I myself
Would for Curnarvonshire, 9 although there ’long'd

8_ Pluck off a little ; &c.] What must she pluck off? I think we may better read:

Pluck up a little Pluck up! is an idiomatical expression for take courage. Fohnsons

The old lady first questions Anne Bullen about being a queen, which she declares her aversion to; she then proposes the title of a duchess, and asks her if she thinks herself equal to the task of sustaining it; but as she still declines the offer of greatness,

Pluck off a little, says she; i. e. let us still further divest preferment of its glare, let us descend yet lower, and more upon a level with your own quality; and then adds:

I would not be a young count in your way, which is an inferior degree of honour to any before enumerated.

Steevens
In faith, for little England
You 'l venture an emballing : I myself

Would for Carnarvonshire ) Little England seems very pro. perly opposed to all the world; but what has Carnarvonshire to do here? Does it refer to the birth of Edward II, at Carnarvon? or may not this be the allusion? By little England is meant, perhaps, that territory in Pembrokeshire, where the Flemings settled in Henry Ist's time, who speaking a language very different from the Welsh, and bearing some affinity to the English, this fertile spot was called by the Britons, as we are told by Camden, Little England beyond Wales; and, as it is a very fruitful country, may be justly opposed to the mountainous and barren county of Car. narvon. Whalley

So, in A short Relation of a long Fourney &c. by John Taylor the Water Poet: “ Concerning Pembrookshire, the people do speak English in it almost generally, and therefore they call it Little

No more to the crown but that. Lo, who comes here?

Enter the Lord Chamberlain. Cham. Good morrow, ladies. What wer 't worth to

know The secret of your conference? Anne.

My good lord,
Not your demand; it values not your asking:
Our mistress' sorrows we were pitying.

Cham. It was a gentle business, and becoming
The action of good women: there is hope,
All will be well.

Anne. Now I pray God, amen!

Cham. You bear a gentle mind, and heavenly blessings Follow such creatures. That you may, fair lady, Perceive I speak sincerely, and high note 's Ta'en of your many virtues, the king's majesty

11.

England beyond Wales, it being the farthest south and west county in the whole principality.” Steevens.

You'd venture an emballing: 1 You would venture to be distin. guished by the ball, the ensign of royalty. Johnson.

Dr Julinson's explanation cannot be right, because a queen-consort, such as Anne Bullen was, is not distinguished by the ball, the ensign of royalty, nor has the poet expressed that she was so distinguished. Tollet

Mr. Tollet's objection to Johnson's explanation is an hypercri. ticism. Shakspeare did not probably consider so curiously his distinction between a queen consort and a queen regent.

M. Mason. Might we read

You'd venture an empalling: j. e. being invested with the pall or robes of state ? The word occurs in the old tragedy of King Edward III, 1596:

“ As with this armour I impall thy breast .” And, in Macbeth, the verb to pall is used in the sense of enrobe :

“And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell.” Malone. The word recommended by Mr. Malone occurs also in Chapman's version of the eighth Book of Homer's Odyssey:

" such a radiance as doth round empall

“Crown'd Cytherea,” Steevens. Might we not read an embalming? A queen consort is anointed at her coronation; and in King Richard II, the word is used in that sense:

“With my own tears I wash away my balm." Dr. Johnson properly explains it, the oil of consecration. Whalley.

The Old Lady's jocularity, I am afraid, carries her beyond the bounds of decorum; but her quibbling allusion is more easily comprehended than explained. Ritson.

Commends his good opinion to you,' and
Does purpose honour to you no less flowing
Than marchioness of Pembroke; to which title
A thousand pound a year, annual support,
Out of his grace he adds.
Anne.

I do not know,
What kind of my obedience I should tender;
More than my all is nothing:2 nor my prayers
Are not words duly hallow'd,3 nor my wishes

1 Commends his good opinion to you,] Thus the old copy, and subsequent editors. Mr. Malone reads:

Commends his good opinion of you. Steevens. The words to you, in the next line, must in construction be understood here. The old copy, indeed, reads:

Commends his good opinion of you to you, and but the metre shows that cannot be right. The words to you were probably accidentally omitted by the compositor in the second line, and being marked by the corrector as out, (to speak technically) were inserted in the wrong place. The old error be. ing again marked, the words that were wanting were properly inserted in the second line where they now stand, and the newerior in the first was overlooked. In the printing-house this frequently happens. Malone

It is as probable that, in the present instance, a correction and the erastire that was designed to make room for it, have both been printed

The phrase I found in the test I have not disturbed, as it is supported by a passage in Antony and Cleopatra:

Comment unto his lips thy favouring hand.” Again, in King Lear:

“I did commend your highness' letters to them.” Steevers. 2 More than my all is nothing: Not only my all is nothing, but if my all were more than it is, it were still nothing Fohnsun. So, in Macbeth :

“More is thy due than more than all can pay.” Stervens. 3

nor my pravers Are not wor Is dulj hailow'd, &c.] It appears to me absolutely necessary, in order to make sense of this passage, to read:

for my pra'ers Are not words luly hallow'd, &c. instead of “nor my prayers."

Anne's argument is this: “More than my all is nothing, for my pravers and wishes are of no value, and yet prayers and wishes are all I have to return.” M. Miison.

The double negative, it has been already observed, was com. monly used in our author''s time. for my prayers, a reading introduced by Mr. Pope, even if

VOL. XI.

Aa

improve

More worth than empty vanities; yet prayers, and wishes,
Are all I can return. 'Beseech your lordship,
Vouchsafe to speak my thanks, and my obedience,
As from a blushing handmaid, to his highness;
Whose health, and royalty, I pray for.
Cham.

Lady,
'I shall not fail to approve the fair conceit,
The king hath of you.—I have perus’d her well;5

[Aside.
Beauty and honour in her are so mingled, .
That they have caught the king: and who knows yet,
But from this lady may proceed a gem,
To lighten all this isle ?6I'll to the king,

such arbitrary changes were allowable, ought not to be admitted here, this being a distinct proposition, not an illation from what has gone before. I know not, (says Anne) what external acts of duty and obeisance I ought to return for such unmerited favour. All I can do of that kind, and even more, if more were possible, would be insufficient: nor are any prayers that I can of. fer up for my benefactor sufficiently sanctified, nor any wishes that I can breathe for his happiness, of more value than the most worthless and empty vanities. Malone.

4 I shall not fail &c.] I shall not omit to strengthen, by my commendation, the opinion which the King has formed. Johnson.

5- I have perus'd her well ;7 From the many artful strokes of address the poet has thrown in upon Queen Elizabeth and her mother, it should seem that this play was written and performed in his royal mistress's time: if so, some lines were added by him in the last scene, after the accession of her successor, King

James. Theobald. 6

agem, . To lighten all this isle.?] Perhaps alluding to the carbuncle, a gem supposed to have intrinsick light, and to shine in the dark: any other gem may reflect light, but cannot give it. Fohnson. So, in Titus Andronicus :

"A precious ring, that lightens all the hole.” Steevens. Thus, in a palace described in Amadis de Gaule, Trans. 1619, fol. B. IV, p 5: “In the roofe of a chamber hung two lampes of gold, at the bottomes whereof were enchased two carbuncles, which gave so bright a splendour round about the roome, that there was no neede of any other light.” With a reference to this notion, I imagine, Milton, speaking of the orb of the sun, says: “ If stone, carbuncle most or chrysolite."

Paradise Lost, B. III, v. 596.
And that we have in Antony and Cleopatra:

“ were it carbuncled
“Like holy Phebus' car." H. White.

« PreviousContinue »