Page images

Upon your charter, and your city's freedom.
You 'll ask me, why I rather choose to have
A weight of carrion flesh, than to receive
Three thousand ducats: I'll not answer that:
But, say, it is my humour;5 Is it answer'd?
What if my house be troubled with a rat,
And I be pleas'd to give ten thousand ducats
To have it baned? What, are you answer'd yet?
Some men there are, love not a gaping pig;6
Some, that are mad, if they behold a cat;
And others, when the bag-pipe sings i' the nose,
Cannot contain their urine; For affection,
Mistress of passion, sways it to the mood
Of what it likes, or loaths:7 Now, for your answer:



I'll not answer that: But, say, it is my humour ;] The Jew being asked a question, which the law does not require him to answer, stands upon his right, and refuses; but afterwards gratifies his own malignity by such answers as he knows will aggravate the pain of the inquirer. I will not answer, says he, as to a legal or serious question, but since you want an answer, will this serve you? Johnson. -say, it is my humour;] Suppose it is my particular fancy.

Heath. a gaping pig ;] So, in Webster's Dutchess of Malfy, 1623: “He could not abide to see a pig's head gaping ;

“I thought your grace would find him out a Jew." Again, in The Mastive, &c. or A Collection of Epigrams and Satires,

66 Darkas cannot endure to see a cat,

“ A breast of mutton, or a pig's head gaping.See King Henry VIII, Act V, sc. iii. Steevens.

By a gaping pig, Shakspeare, I believe, meant a pig prepared for the table; for in that state is the epithet, gaping, most applicable to this animal. So, in Fletcher's Elder Brother:

And they stand gaping like a roasted pig." A passage in one of Nashe's pamphlets (which perhaps furnished our author with his instance) may serve to confirm the observation: “ The causes conducting unto wrath are as diverse as the actions of a man's life. Some will take on like a ma an, if they see a pig come to the table. Sotericus the surgeon was cholerick at the sight of sturgeon," &c. Pierce Pennylesse his Supplication to the Devil, 1592. Malone. 7 Cannot contain their urine; &c.] Mr. Rowe reads:

Cannot contain their urine for affection.
Masterless passion sways it to the mood

Of what it likes, or loaths.
Alasterless passion Mr. Pope has since copied. I don't know

As there is no firm reason to be render'd,

what word there is to which this relative it is to be referred. The ingenious Dr. Thirlby would thus adjust the passage:

Cannot contain their urine; for affection,

Master of passion, sways it, &c. And then it is governed of passion. The two old quartos and folios read-Masters of passion, &c.

It may be objected, that affection and passion mean the same thing. But I observe, the writers of our author's age made a distinction; as Jonson in Sejanus :

He hath studied

Affection's passions, knows their springs and ends." And then, in this place, affection will stand for that sympathy or antipathy of soul by which we are provoked to show a liking or disgust in the working of our passions. Theobald.

Masters of passion, is certainly right. He is speaking of the power of sound over the human affections, and concludes, very naturally, that the masters of passion (for so he finely calls the musicians) sway the passions or affections as they please. Alluding to what the ancients tell us of the feats that Timotheus and other musicians worked by the power of music. Can any thing be more natural? Warburton.

Does not the verb sway, which governs the two nominative cases affection and masters, require that both should be plural, and consequently direct us to read thus? For affections, masters of passion sway it, &c.

Sir 7. Hawkins. That affections and passions anciently had different significations, may be known from the following instance in Greene's Never too Late, 1616:

“ His heart was fuller of passions than his eyes of affections." Affections, as used by Shylock, seem to signify imaginations, or prejudices. In Othello, Act I, is a passage somewhat similar: “ And though we have here a substitute of most allowed sufficiency, yet opinion, a sovereign mistress of effects, throws a more safe voice on you.” Steevens.

Of this much controverted passage, my opinion was formerly very different from what it is at present. Sways, the reading of the old copies, I conceived, could not agree with masters as a substantive ; but very soon after my former note on these words was printed, I found that this was not only our author's usual phraseology, but the common language of the time. Innumerable instances of the same kind occur in these plays; in all of which I have followed the practice of my predecessors, and silently reduced the substantive and the verb to concord. This is the only change that is now made in the present passage ; for all the ancient copies read-affection, not affections, as the word has been printed in late editions, in order to connect it with the following line :

“ Cannot contain their urine for affection,I believe, means

Why he cannot abide a gaping pig;

only-Cannot, &c. on account of their being affected by the noise of the bagpipe; or, in other words, on account of an involuntary antipathy to such a noise. In the next line, which is put in apposition with that preceding, the word it, may refer either to passion, or affection. To explain it, I shall borrow Dr. Johnson's words, with a slight variation: “Those who know how to ope. rate on the passion of men, rule it, (or rule the sympathetick feeling) by making it operate in obedience to the notes which please or disgust it.” It, (“sway it”) in my opinion refers to af. fection, that is to the sympathetick feeling: Malone.

The true meaning undoubtedly is,- The masters of passion, that is such as are possessed of the art of engaging and managing the human passions, influence them by a skilful application to the particular likings or loathings of the person they are addressing ; this is a proof that men are generally governed by their likings and loathings, and therefore it is by no means strange or unnatu. ral that I should be so too in the present instance. Heath. The reading of all the old editions is:

“ And others, when the bag-pipe sings i' th' nose,
“ Cannot contain their urine for affection.
“ Masters of passion sways it to the mood

« Of what it likes or loaths.” i. e. some men when they hear the sound of a bag-pipe, are so af. fected therewith that they cannot retain their urine. For those things which are masters over passion, make it like or loath whatever they will. Ritson.

After all that has been said about this contested passage, I am convinced we are indebted for the true reading of it to Mr. Waldron, the ingenious editor and continuator of Ben Jonson's Sad Shepherd.

In his Appendix, p. 212, he observes that “ Mistress was formerly spelt Maistresse or Maistres. In Upton's and Church's Spenser, we have:

-young birds, which he had taught to sing “ His maistresse praises.” B. III, c. vii, st. 17. This, I presume, is the reading of the first edition of the three first Books of The Fairie Queene, 1590, which I have not; in the second edition, 1596, and the folios 1609, and 1611, it is spelt mistresse.

In Bulleyn's Dialogue we have “my maister, and my maistress.” See p. 219 of this Appendix.

Perhaps Maistres (easily corrupted, by the transposition of the r and e, into Maisters, which is the reading of the second folio of Shakspeare) might have been the poet's word.

Mr. Steevens, in his note on this difficult passage, gives a quo. tation from Othello, which countenances this supposed difference of gender in the noun:-"And though we have here a substitute of most allowed sufficiency, yet opinion, a sovereign mistress of effects, throws a more safe voice on you."

Why he, a harmless necessary cat;
Why he, a swollen bag-pipe;s but of force

Admitting maistres to have been Shakspeare's word, we may, according to modern orthography, read the passage thus :

for affection
Mistress of passion, sways it to the mood

« Of what it likes or loaths.” In the Latin, it is to be observed, affectio and Passio are femi. nine. Anonymous.

To the foregoing amendment, so well supported and so modestly offered, I cannot refuse a place in the text of our author.

This emendation may also receive countenance from the fol. lowing passage in the fourth Book of Sidney's Arcadia: “- She saw in him how much fancy doth not only darken reason, but be. guile sense; she found opinion mistresse of the Lover's judgment."

So likewise, in the Prologue to a MS. intitled, The Boke of Huntyng that is cleped Mayster of Game :-"ymaginacion mais. tresse of alle workes,” &c. Steevens.

8 Why he, a swollen bag-pipe ;] This incident Shakspeare seems to have taken from J. C. Scaliger's Exot. Exercit. against Cardan. A book that our author was well read in, and much indebted to for a great deal of his physics: it being then much in vogue, and indeed is excellent, though now long since forgot. In his 344 Exercit. Sect. vi, he has these words: “ Narrabo nunc tibi jocosam Sympathiam Reguli Vasconis equitis. Is dum viveret, audito phormingis sono, urinam illico facere cogebatur.”—And to make this jocular story still more ridiculous, Shakspeare, I suppose, translated phorminx by bag-pipes. But what I would chiefly observe from hence is this, that as Scaliger uses the word Sympathiam, which signifies, and so he interprets it, communem affectionem duabus rebus, so Shakspeare translates it by affection:

Cannot contain their urine for affection. Which shows the truth of the preceding emendation of the text according to the old copies; which have a full stop at affection, and read Masters of passion. Warburton.

In an old translation from the French of Peter de Loier, entitled A Treatise of Spectres, or strange Sights, Visions, &c. we have this identical story from Scaliger; and what is still more, a marginal note gives us in all probability the very fact alluded to, as well as the word of Shakspeare. Another gentleman of this quality lived of late in Devon, neere Excester, who could not en. dure the playing on a bag-pipe." We may justly add, as some observation has been made upon it, that affection in the sense of sympathy, was formerly technical; and so used by Lord Bacon, Sir K. Digby, and many other writers. Farmer.

As all the editors agree with complete uniformity in reading woollen bag-pipe, I can hardly forbear to imagine that they understood it. But I never saw a woollen bag-pipe, nor can well conceive it. I suppose the author wrote wooden bag-pipe, meaning that the bag was of leather, and the pipe of wood. Fohnson.

Must yield to such inevitable shame,
As to offend, himself being offended;
So can I give no reason, nor I will not,
More than a lodg'd hate, and a certain loathing,
I bear Antonio, that I follow thus
A losing suit against him. Are you answer'd?

Bass. This is no answer, thou unfeeling man,
To excuse the current of thy cruelty.

Shy. I am not bound to please thee with my answer.
Bass. Do all men kill the things they do not love?
Shy. Hates any man the thing he would not kill?
Bass. Every offence is not a hate at first.
Shy. What, would'st thou have a serpent sting thee

twice? Ant. I pray you, think you question with the Jew: You may as well go


the beach,
And bid the main flood bate his usual height;
You may as well use question with the wolf,
Why he hath made the ewe bleat for the lamb;
You may as well forbid the mountain pines
To wag their high tops, and to make no noise,

This passage is clear from all difficulty, if we read swelling or swollen bag-pipe, which that we should, I have not the least doubt.

Sir 7. Hawkins. A passage in Turbervile's Epitaphes, p. 13, supports the emendation proposed by Sir John Hawkins :

“ First came the rustick forth

“With pipe and puffed bag." This instance was pointed out to me by Dr. Farmer. Steevens.

Perhaps Shakspeare calls the bag-pipe woollen, from the bag being generally covered with woollen cloth. I have seen one at Alnwick, belonging to one of the pipers in the Percy family, covered with black velvet, and guarded with silver fringe.

R. G. Robinson. An anonymous writer, in support of the old reading, observes, that the skin or bladder of a bag-pipe is frequently covered with flannel. I am, however, of opinion that the old is the true reading. Malone.

As the aversion was not caused by the outward appearance of the bag-pipe, but merely by the sound arising from its inflation, I have placed the conjectural reading-swollen, in the text.

Steevens. - you question - ] To question is to converse. Measure for Measure:

“- in the loss of question —" i. e. conversation that leads to nothing. To reason had anciently the same meaning. Steevens.


So, in

« PreviousContinue »