« PreviousContinue »
band, she says, proves her supreme grief. She had been happy had she been stolen as her brothers were ; but now she is miserable, as all those are who have a sense of worth and honour superior to the vulgar, which occasions them infinite vexations from the envious and worthless part of mankind. Had she not so refined a taste as to be content only with the superior merit of Posthumus, but could have taken up with Cloten, she might have escaped these persecutions. This elegance of taste, which always discovers an excellence and chooses it, she calls with great subli. mity of expression, The desire that's glorious.
-Blessed be those,
Which seasons comfort. -] To be able to refine on calamity (says she) is the iniserable, privilege of those who are educated with aspiring thoughts and elegant desires. Blessed are they, however mean their condition, who have the power of gratifying their honest inclinations, which circumstance bestows an additional relish on comfort itself. So, in Macbeth:
" You lack the season of all natures, sleep." Again, in albumazar, 1613:
-the memory of misfortunes past “ Seasons the welcome."'.
STEEVENS Imogen’s sentiment is, in my apprehension, simply this :-Had I been stolen away in my infancy, or (as she says in another place) born a neat-herd's daughter, I
had been happy.. But instead of that, I am in a high, and, what is called, a glorious station; and most miserable is such a situation! Wretched is the wish of which the object is glory! Happier far are those, how low soever their rank in life, who have it in their power to gratify their virtuous inclinations : a circumstance that gives an additional zest to comfort itself, and renders it something more; or (to borrow our author's words in another place) which keeps comfort always fresh and lasting.
A line in Tinon may, perhaps, prove the best comment on the former part of this passage :
“O the fierce wretchedness that glory brings !" Of the verb to season, as explained by Mr. Steevens, so many instances occur, that there can, I think, be do doubt of the propriety of his interpretation.
MALONE. 614. and the rich crop
Of sea and land, -] The crop of sea and land means only the productions of either element.
STEEVENS, 616. and the twinn'd stones
Upon the number'd beach?_-] The pebbles on the sea shore are so much of the sanie size and shape, that twinn'd may mean as like as twins. So in the Maid of the Mill, by Beaumont and Fletcher:
"But is it possible that two faces “ Should be so twinn'd in form, complexion,'' &c. Again in our author's Coriolanus, act iv. sc. 4. “ Are still together, who twin as 'twere, in love."
Theobald's conjecture is supported by a passage in K. Lear :
-the murm'ring surge “ That on th' unnumber'd idle pebbles chafes”Th' unnumber'd, and the number'd, approach so nearly in sound, that it is difficult for the ear to distinguish one from the other.
MALONE. 627. Should make desire vomit emptiness,
Not so allur'd to feed.] No one who has been ever sick at sea, can be at a loss to understand what is meant by vomiting emptiness,
MALONE. To vomit emptiness is, in the language of poetry, to feel the convulsions of eructation without plenitude.
JOHNSON. 638. He's strange, and peevish.] Strange, I believe, signifies shy, or backward. So Holinshed, p. 735 : “brake to him his mind in this mischievous matter, in which he found him nothing strange."
Peevish anciently meant weak, silly. So in Lylly's Endymion, 1591 : “Never was any so peevish to imagine the moon either capable of affection, or shape of a mistress. Again, in Lylly's Galatea, when a man has given a conceited answer - to a plain question, Diana
says, “ Let him alone, he is but peevish." Again, in Love's Metamorphosis by Lylly, 1601: “In the heavens I saw an orderly course, in the earth nothing but disorderly love and pecvishness.". Again, in Gosson's School of Abuse, 1579: “We have infinite poets and pipers, and such peevish cattel ainong us in Englande.” Again, in the Comedy of Errors:
" How now! a madman ! why thou peevish
STEEVENS. 646. he is called
The Briton reveller.] So, in Chaucer's Coke's Tale, late edit. v. 4369: “ That he was cleped Perkin revelour."
The thick sighs from him : -] So, in Chap man's preface to his translation of the Shield of Homer, 1598 :.“
-- furnaceth the universall sighes and complaintes of this transposed world." STEVENS. Again, in As You Like It:
And then the lover,
MALONE, 693. What both you spur and stop.] What it is that at once incites you to speak, and restrains you from it.
JOHNSON. 699. Fixing it only here : --] The folio, 1693, reads, fiering. The reading of the text is that of the second folio.
as common as the stairs
That mount the Capitol ; -] Shakspere has bestowed some ornament on the proverbial phrase “as common as the highway.”
STEEVENS, 701. --join gripes with hands, &c.] The old edi. tion reads,
join gripes with hands
With labour) then by peeping in an eye, &c.
-then lye peepingThe author of the present regulation of the text I do not know, but have suffered it to stand, though not right. Hard with falsehood, is, hard by being ofren griped with frequent change of hands. JOHNSON.
-join gripes with hands
Then glad myself with peeping in an eye,] Mr. Rowe first regulated the passage thus, as it has been handed down by succeeding editors ; but the repetition which they wished to avoid, is now restored, for if it be not absolute nonsense, why should we refuse to follow the old copy?
STEEVENS. to an empery,] Empery is a word signifying sovereign command; now obsolete. Shakspere uses it in another play : “ Your right of birth, your empery, your own.”'
STEEVENS. 790. With tomboys,--]We still call a masculine, a forward girl, a tomboy. So, in Middleton's Game at Chess :
“ Made threescore year a tomboy, a mere wanton Again, in I.ylly's Midas, 1592 :
16 If thou should'st rigg up and down in our jackets, thou wouldst be thought a very tomboy."