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'O For a mufe of fire, that would afcend
The brightest heaven of invention ! A kingdom for a stage, ’ princes to all, And monarchs to bebold the swelling scene ! Then should the warlike Harry, like himself, Asume the port of Mars; and at his heels, Leajht in, like bounds, should famine, sword, and fire Crouch for employment. But pardon, gentles all, I be flat unraised Spirit, that hath dar'd, On this unworthy scaffold, to bring forth So great an objetl. Can this cock-pit hold The vasty field of France ? or may we cram, 3 Within this wooden 0, 4 the very casques That did affright the air at Agincourt ? O, pardon, since a crooked figure may Atteft, in little place, a million ; And let us, cyphers to this great accompt, 5 On your imaginary forces work.
' for a muse of fire, &c.] This goes upon the notion of the Peripatetic system, which imagines several heavens one above another; the last and highelt of which was one of fire.
WARBURTON. It alludes likewise to the aspiring nature of fire, which, by its levity, at the separation of the chaos, took the highest feat of all the elements. JOHNSON.
princes to att, And monarchs to behold-] Shakespeare does not seem to set distance enough between the performers and spectators.
JOHNSON. 3 Within this wooden 0;-) Nothing shews more evidently the power of custom over language, than that the frequent use of calling a circle an O could so much hide the meanness of the metaphor from Shakespeare, that he has used it many times where he makes his most eager attempts at dignity of stile.
JOHNSON. 4 The very casques] The helmets. JOHNSON.
s Imaginary.forces- Imaginary for imaginative, or your powers of fancy. Active and paflive words are by this author frequently confounded, Johnson.
Suppose, within the girdle of these walls
6 Whose bigh-up-reared, and abutting fronts
THE PERILOUS narrow ocean parts afunder.] Without doubt the author wrote,
W hoje high-up-rcared and abufting fronts,
PERILOUS, 'The narrow ocean parts afunder,] For his purpose is to shew, that the highest danger arises from the shock of their meeting, and that it is but a little thing which keeps them asunder. This sense my emendation gives us, as the common reading gives us a contrary; for those whom a perilous ocean parts afunder, are in no danger of meeting. Ward.
Perilous narrow, in burlesque language meant no more than very narrow. In old books this mode of expression occurs perpetually. A perilous broad brim 10 a bat, a perilous long (wird, &c. So in Beaumont and Fletcher's Humourous Lieutenant,
“She is perilous crafty.”. STEEVENS.
And make imaginary puissance.] This shews that Shakespeare was fully sensible of the absurdity of sewing battles on the theatre, which indeed is never done but tragedy becomes farce. Nothing can be represented to the eye but by something like it, and within a wooden O nothing very like a battle can be exhibited. JOHNSON
Other authors of that age seem to hav been sensible of the fame absurdities. In Heywood's Fair Maid of the Wifi, 1631; ? Chorus enters and says,
“ Our stage so lamely can express a fea
Ś What hould have been in action," &c. STEEVENS. : For 'tis your thoughts :hat now must deck our kings;
Carry them here and there,-) We may read king for kings. The prologue relates only to this single play. The mistake was made by referring them to kings which belongs to thoughts. The fense is, your thoughts must give the king his proper greatness; carry