« PreviousContinue »
She is too fair, too wise; wisely too fair,
Ben. Be rul'd by me, forget to think of her.
Ben. By giving liberty unto thine eyes ;
'Tis the way To call hers, exquisite, in question more: These happy masks?, that kiss fair ladies' brows,
“ What is thy body but a swallowing grave,
MALONE. 4 — wisely too fair, &c.] There is in her too much sanctimonivus wisdom united with beauty, which induces her to continue chaste with the hopes of attaining heavenly bliss. Malone.
None of the following speeches of this scene are in the first edition of 1597. Pope. s Do I LIVE DEAD,] So, Richard the Third :
“ – now they kill me with a living death.” 6 To call hers, exquisite, in question more:] That is, to call hers, which is exquisite, the more into my remembrance and contemplation. It is in this sense, and not in that of doubt, or dispute, that the word question is here used. Heath.
More into talk; to make her unparalleled beauty more the subject of thought and conversation. Question means conversation. So, in the Rape of Lucrece:
“ And after supper long he questioned
“ With modest Lucrece." And in many passages in our author's plays. Malone.
7 These happy masks, &c.] i. e. the masks worn by female spectators of the play. So, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Beggar's Bush, Sc. ult. :
“ We stand here for an Epilogue.
“ Out at your masks.” Former editors print those instead of these, but without authority. STEEVENS.
These happy masks, I believe, means no more than the happy
Being black, put us in mind they hide the fair ;
Enter CAPULET, Paris, and Servant. CAP. And Montague is bound as well as I, In penalty alike; and 'tis not hard, I think, For men so old as we to keep the peace. (ID)
Par. Of honourable reckoning are you * both; And pity 'tis, you * liv'd at odds so long. But now, my lord, what say you to my suit ?
CAP. But saying o'er what I have said before ; My child is yet a stranger in the world, She hath not seen the change of fourteen years; Let two more summers wither in their pride”,
* Quarto A, they. masks. Such is Mr. Tyrwhitt's opinion. See Measure for Measure, Act II. Sc. IV. Malone. .: 8 What doth her beauty serve,] i. e. what end does it answer? In modern language we say—“serve for.” Steevens. 9 — thou canst not teach me to forget.]
“ Of all afflictions taught a lover yet,
Pope's Eloisa. Steevens. And Montague is bound — ] This speech is not in the first quarto. That of 1599 has—But Montague.--In that of 1609, and the folio, But is omitted. The reading of the text is that of the undated quarto. MaloNE.
Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride.
PAR. Younger than she are happy mothers made. CAP. And too soon marr'd are those so early
made'. (ID) The earth hath swallow'd all my hopes but she, She is the hopeful lady of my earth *: (ID)
? Let two more summers wither in their pride,] So, in our poet's 103d Sonnet :
- Three winters cold
MALONE. 3 And too soon MARR’D are those so early made.] The quarto, 1597, reads :-And too soon marr'd are those so early married.
Puttenham, in his Art of Poesy, 1589, uses this expression, which seems to be proverbial, as an instance of a figure which he calls the Rebound:
“ The maid that soon married is, soon marred is.” The jingle between marr'd and made is likewise frequent among the old writers. So, Sidney:
“ Oh! he is marr'd, that is for others made!”. Spenser introduces it very often in his different poems.
Steevens. 4 She is the hopeful lady of my earth :) This line is not in the first edition. POPE.
“She is the hopeful lady of my earth.” This is a Gallicism : Fille de terre is the French phrase for an heiress. King Kichard II. calls his land, i.e. his kingdom, his earth :
"Feed not thy sovereign's foe, my gentle earth.” Again :
“ So weeping, smiling, greet I thee, my earth.” Earth in other old plays is likewise put for lands, i. e. landed estate. So, in A Trick to Catch the Old One, 1619:
“ A rich widow, and four hundred a year in good earth.” Again, in the Epistle Dedicatorie to Dr. Bright's Characterie, an Arte of Shorte, Swifte, and Secrete Writing by Character, 12mo. 1588: “And this my inuention being altogether of English yeeld, where your Majestie is the Ladie of the Soyle, it appertayneth of right to you onely.” Steevens.
The explanation of Mr. Steevens may be right; but there is a passage in The Maid's Tragedy, which leads to another, where Amintor says:
“This earth of mine doth tremble, and I feel
“A stark affrighted motion in my blood.” Here earth means corporal part. M. Mason.
But woo her, gentle Paris, get her heart,
Again, in this play:
“ Can I go forward, when my heart is here?
“ Turn back, dull earth, and find thy center out." Again, in our author's 146th Sonnet:
“ Poor soul, the center of my sinful earth," MALONE. s My will to her consent is but a part;] To, in this instance, signifies in comparison with, in proportion to. So, in King Henry VIII. : “ These are but switches to them." STEEVENS.
6 Earth-treading stars, that make dark Heaven light :) This nonsense should be reformed thus :
Earth-treading stars that make dark even light: i. e. When the evening is dark, and without stars, these earthly stars supply their place, and light it up. So again, in this play :
“Her beauty hangs upon the cheek of night,
“ Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear.” WARBURTON. But why nonsense? is any thing more commonly said, than that beauties eclipse the sun ? Has not Pope the thought and the word?
“ Sol through white curtains shot a tim'rous ray,
“ And op'd those eyes that must eclipse the day." Both the old and the new reading are philosophical nonsense ; but they are both, and both equally, poetical sense. Johnson.
I will not say that this passage, as it stands, is absolute nonsense ; but I think it very absurd, and am certain that it is not capable of the meaning that Johnson attributes to it, without the alteration I mean to propose, which is, to read :
Earth-treading stars that make dark, heaven's light. That is, earthly stars that outshine the stars of heaven, and make them appear dark by their own superior brightness. But, according to the present reading, they are earthly stars that enlighten the gloom of heaven. M. Mason.
The old reading is sufficiently supported by a parallel passage in Churchyard's Shore's Wife, 1593 :
Such comfort, as do lusty young men feel?
“My beautie blasd like torch or twinckling starre,
“ A liuely lamp that lends darke world some light.” Mr. M. Mason's explanation, however, may receive countenance from Sidney's Arcadia, book iii. : “ Did light those beamy stars which greater light did dark.”
STEEVENS. 7 - do lusty Young Men feel -] To say, and to say in pompous words, that a young man shall feel as much in an assembly of beauties, as young men feel in the month of April, is surely to waste sound upon a very poor sentiment. I read :
“Such comfort as do lusty yeomen feel.” You shall feel from the sight and conversation of these ladies, such hopes of happiness and such pleasure, as the farmer receives from the spring, when the plenty of the year begins, and the prospect of the harvest fills him with delight. Johnson.
Young men are certainly yeomen. So, in A lytell Geste of Robyn Hode, printed by Wynken de Worde:
“ Robyn commaunded his wight young men.
“ Buske you my mery yonge men." In all these instances Copland's edition, printed not many years after, reads-yeomen.
So again, in the ancient legend of Adam Bel, printed by Copland:
“ There met he these wight yonge men.
“ Here is a set of these wyght yong men.” But I have no doubt that he printed from a more antiquated edition, and that these passages have accidentally escaped alteration, as we generally meet with “ wyght yemen." See also Spelman's Glossary ; voce JUNIORES. It is no less singular that in a subsequent act of this very play the old copies should, in two places, read “ young trees” and “ young tree," instead of yew-trees, and yew-tree. Ritson.
The following passages from Chaucer's Romaunt of the Rose, and Virgil's third Georgick, will support the present reading, and show the propriety of Shakspeare's comparison : for to tell Paris that he should feel the same sort of pleasure in an assembly of beauties, which young folk feel in that season when they are most gay and amorous, was surely as much as the old man ought to say:
ubi subdita flamma medullis,