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I would kiss as many of you as had beards that pleased
This passage should be read thus : I charge you, O women, for the love you bear to men, to like as much of this play as pleases them: and I charge you, O men, for the love you bear to women, to like as much as pleases them, that between you and the women, &c. Without the alteration of you into them, the invocation is nonsense; and without the addition of the words, to like as much as pleases them, the inference of, that between you and the women the play may pass, would be unsupported by any precedent premises. The words seem to have been struck out by some senseless player, as a vicious redundancy. Warburton.
The words you and ym, written as was the custom in that time, were in manuscript scarcely distinguishable. The emendation is very judicious and probable. Johnson.
Mr. Heath observes, that if Dr. Warburton's interpolation be admitted, [“ to like as much, &c.”] “ the men are to like only just as much as pleased the women, and the women only just as much as pleased the men; neither are to like any thing from their own taste: and if both of them disliked the whole, they would each of them equally fulfil what the poet desires of them. But Shakspeare did not write so nonsensically; he desires the women to like as much as pleased the men, and the men to set the ladies a good example; which exhortation to the men is evidently implied in these words, “that between you and the women the play may please.”
Mr. Heath, though he objects (I think very properly) to the interpolated sentence, admits by his interpretation the change of
- pleases you” to “ — pleases them;" which has been adopted
the late éditors. I by no means think it necessary; nor is Mr. Heath's exposition, in my opinion, correct. The text is sufficiently clear, without any alteration. Rosalind's address ap. pears to me simply this: “I charge you, O women, for the love you bear to men, to approve of as much of this play as affords you entertainment; and I charge you, O men, for the love you bear to women, (not to set an example to, but] to follow or agree in opinion with the ladies ; that between you both the play may be successful.” The words “ to follow, or agree in opinion with the ladies” are not, indeed, expressed, but plainly implied in those subsequent; “that between you and the women, the play may please. In the epilogue to King Henry IV, P. II, the ad. dress to the audience proceeds in the same order: “ All the gen. tlewomen here have forgiven [i. e. are favourable to] me; if the gentlemen will not, then the gentlemen do not agree with the gen. tlewomen, which was never seen before in such an assembly."
The old copy reads-as please you. The correction was made by Mr. Rowe.
Like all my predecessors, I had here adopted an alteration made by Mr. Rowe, of which the reader was apprized in the
me, complexions that liked me,' and breaths that I defied not:1 and, I am sure, as many as have good beards, or good faces, or sweet breaths, will, for my kind offer, when I make court'sy, bid me farewel. [Exeunt.
note; but the old copy is certainly right, and such was the phraseology of Shakspeare's age. So, in K. Richard III:
“Where every horse bears his commanding rein,
“ And may direct his course, as please himself.” Again, in Hamlet :
-a pipe for fortune's finger,
" To sound what stop she please.” Again, in K. Henry VIII:
“ All men's honours
“ Into what pitch he please.” Malone. I read—“and so I charge you, O men,” &c. This trivial addition (as Dr. Farmer joins with me in thinking) clears the whole passage.
Steevens. 8 If I were a woman,] Note, that in this author's time, the parts of women were always performed by men or boys.
Hanmer. - complexions that liked me,] i. e. that I liked. So again, in Hamlet : « This likes me well.” Steevens.
breaths that I defied not:] This passage serves to manifest the indelicacy of the time in which the plays of Shakspeare were written. Such an idea, started by a modern dramatist, and put into the mouth of a female character, would be hooted with indignation from the stage. Steevens.
2 Of this play the fable is wild and pleasing. I know not how the ladies will approve the facility with which both Rosalind and Celia give away their hearts. To Celia much may be forgiven for the heroism of her friendship. The character of Jaques is natural and well preserved. The comic dialogue is very sprightly, with less mixture of low buffoonery than in some other plays; and the graver part is elegant and harmonious. By hastening to the end of this work, Shakspeare suppressed the dialogue between the usurper and the hermit, and lost an opportunity of exhibiting a moral lesson in which he might have found matter worthy of his highest powers. Johnson.
See p. 25. Is but a quintain, &c.] Dr. Warburton's explanation would, I think, have been less exceptionable, had it been more simple: yet he is here charged with a fault of which he is seldom guilty--want of refinement. “ This (says Mr. Guthrie) is but an imperfect (to call it no worse) explanation of a beautiful passage. The quintain was not the object of the darts and arms; it was a stake, driven into a field, upon which were hung a shield and trophies of war, at which they shot, darted, or rode with a lance. When the shield and trophies were all thrown down, the quintain remained. Without this information, how could the reader understand the allusion of
my better parts Are all thrown down. In the present edition I have avoided, as much as possible, all kind of controversy; but in those cases where errors, by having been long adopted, are become inveterate, it becomes in some measure necessary to the enforcement of truth.
It is a common, but a very dangerous mistake, to suppose that the interpretation which gives most spirit to a passage is the
consequence of this notion, two passages of our author, one in Macbeth, and another in Othello, have been re. fined, as I conceive, into a meaning that I believe was not in bis thoughts. If the most spirited interpretation that can be imagined happens to be inconsistent with his general manner,
and the phraseology both of him and his contemporaries, or to be founded on a custom which did not exist in his age, most assuredly it is a false interpretation. Of the latter kind is Mr. Guthrie's explanation of the passage before us.
The military exercise of the quintain is as ancient as the time of the Romans; and we find from Matthew Paris, that it subsisted in England in the thirteenth century. Tentoria variis ornamentorum generibus venustantur; terræ infixis, sudibus scuta apponuntur, quibus in crastinum quintanæ ludus, scilicet equestris, exer
M. Paris, ad ann. 1253. These probably were the very words that Mr. Guthrie had in contemplation. But Matthew Paris made no part of Shakspeare's library; nor is it at all material to our present point what were the customs of any century preceding that in which he lived. In his time, without any doubt, the quintain was not a military exercise of tilting, but a mere rustic sport. So Minshieu, in his Dict. 1617: “ A quintain or quintelle, a game in request at marriages, when Jack and Tom, Dic, Hob and Will, strive for the gay garland.” So also, Ran. dolph at somewhat a later period [Poems, 1642:]
“ Foot-ball with us may be with them (the Spaniards]
“ That have least art, and most simplicitie.” But old Stowe, in his Survey of London, printed only two years before this play appeared, says :-“I have seen a quinten set up on Cornehill, by the Leaden Hall, where the attendants on the lords of merry disports have runne, and made greate pastime ;
for hee that hit not the broad end of the quinten was of all men laughed to scorne; and hee that hit it full, if he rid not the faster, had a sound blow in his necke with a bagge full of sand hanged on the other end." Here we see were no shields hung, no trophies of war to be thrown down. “ The great design of the sport, (says Dr. Plott, in his History of Oxfordshire) is to try both man and horse, and to break the board, which whoever does, is for the time Princeps juventutis.” Shakspeare's similes seldom correspond on both sides. “My better parts being all thrown down, my youthful spirit being subdued by the power of beauty, I am now (says Orlando) as inanimate as a wooden quintain is, not when its better parts are thrown down, but as that lifeless block is at all times.” Such, perhaps, is the meaning: If, however, the words “better parts,” are to be applied to the quintain, as well as to the speaker, the board above-mentioned, and not any shield or trophy, must have been alluded to.
Our author has, in Macbeth, used “my better part of man" for manly spirit.
“ Accursed be the tongue that tells me so,
“ For it has cow'd my better part of man.” Malone. The explanations of this passage, as well as the accounts of the quintain, are by no means satisfactory; nor have the labours of the critick or the antiquary been exhausted. The whole of Orlando's speech should seem to refer to the quintain, but not to such a one as has been described in any of the preceding notes. Mr. Guthrie is accused of having borrowed his account from Matthew Paris, an author with whom, as it has been already observed, Shakspeare was undoubtedly not acquainted; but this charge is erroneous, for no such passage as that above cited is to be found in M. Paris. This writer does indeed speak of the quintain under the year 1253, but in very different words. Eodem tempore juvenes Londinenses statuto pavone pro bravio ad stadium quod quintena vulgariter dicitur, vires proprias et equorum cursus sunt experti. He then proceeds to state that some of the King's pages, and others belonging to the houshold, being offended at these sports, abused the Londoners with foul language, calling them scurvy clowns and greasy rascals, and ventured to dispute the prize with them; the consequence of which was, that the Londoners received them very briskly, and so belaboured their backs with the broken lances, that they were either put to flight, or tumbled from their horses and most terribly bruised. They afterwards went before the King, the tears still trickling from their eyes, and complained of their treatment, beseeching that he would not suffer so great an offence to remain unpunished; and the King, with his usual spirit of revenge, extorted from the citizens a very large fine. So far M. Paris; but Mr. Malone has through some mistake cited Robertus Monachus, who wrote before M. Paris, and has left an extremely curious account of the Crusades. He is describing the arrival of some messengers from Babylon, who, upon entering the Christian camp, find to their great astonishment (for they had heard that the Christians
were perishing with fear and hunger) the tents curiously ornamented, and the young men practising themselves and their horses in tilting against shields hung upon poles. In the oldest edition of this writer, instead of “quintanæ ludus," it is “ludus equestris.” However, this is certainly not the quintain that is here wanted, and therefore Mr. Malone has substituted another, copied indeed from a contemporary writer, but still not illustrative of the passage in question. I shall beg leave then to present the reader with some others, from which it will appear, that the quintain cvas a military exercise in Shakspeare's time, and not a mere rustic sport, as Mr. Malone imagines.
One kind of quintain is the figure of a man placed upon the trunk of a tree, holding in one hand a shield, in the other a bag of sand. Another figure is that of a Saracen, armed with a broken sword, raised in defence, with a shield and a quiver of arrows at his back, this was called the Saracen quintain, described by Pluvinel, instruction du Roi Louis XIII, dans l'exercise de monter d cheval. This sort of quintain, according to Menestrier, was invented by the Germans, who, from their frequent wars with the Turks, accustomed their soldiers to point their lances against the figure of their enemy. The skill consisted in shivering the lance to pieces, by striking it against the head of the man, for if it touched the shield, the figure turned round and generally struck the horseman a violent blow with, his sword. The Flemish quintain is differently formed, and is called La bague Flamande, from the ring which the figure holds in his left hand; and here the object was to take away the ring with the point of the lance, for if it struck any other part, the man turned round and hit the rider with a sand-bag, which he held in his right hand. This is a mixture of the quintain and running at the ring, which two sports have been some how or other in like manner confounded by the Italians, who sometimes express the running at the ring by correre alla quintana. The principle of all these was the same, viz. to avoid the blow of the sword or sand-bag, by striking the quintain in a particular place.
It might have been expected that some instance had been given of the use of these quintains in England; and for want of it an objection may be taken to this method of illustrating the present subject: but let it be remembered, that Shakspeare has indiscriminately blended the usages of all nations; that he has oftentimes availed himself of hearsay evidence; and again, that as our manners and customs have at all times been borrowed from the French and other nations, there is every reason to infer that this species of the quintain had found its way into England. It is hardly needful to add, that a knowledge of very many of our ancient sports and domestic employments is not now to be attained. Historians have contented themselves to record the vices of kings and princes, and the minutiæ of battles and sieges; and, with very few exceptions, they have considered the discussion of private inanners (a theme perhaps equally interesting to posteriiy) as beneath their notice, and of little or no importance.