Page images
PDF
EPUB

281. “ Ignomy in ransom and free pardon."

To justify such a departure from established orthography, as to give ignomy for ignominy, some better authority should be produced, than that, by Mr. Reed, from Troilus and Cressida : it seems to have been, in both cases, merely an error of the press. But why should any one contend for an irregularity, which, when granted, will yield no advantage ? Ignomy (admitting such a word) is as lame a member of the line, as that whose place it here usurps; unless, indeed, we merely count syllables, without any regard to customary accentuation :

“Ignómy in ransom and free pardón.” But the prosody is evidently deranged. I know not whether this would be any desirable amendment : " That

you

have slander'd ?” Isab.

Ignominò in ransom.” The disorder that has taken place in the inetre of this play, appears, indeed, incurable. 284.

We are made to be no stronger, , Than faults may shake our frames. i. e. Than (that) faults may shake, &c.

. It is a very harsh ellipsis. 287. Who would believe me? O perilous

mouths.We might obtain metre by reading“Who would believe me? O these perilous ACT III. SCENE I. 288. - I do lose a thing,

mouths."

Which none but fools wou'd keep.

Keep,” I believe, has here an emphatic sense ; not a wish to possess, as Dr. Johnson says, nor, as Mr. Steevens, care for, but guard, embrace, hold fast. Dr. Young, in The Brothers, calls life " a dream which ideots hug;" and this I take to be the sense implied here. 289.

Death's fool,Hotspur calls life “ Time's fool.” 291. Sleep thou provok’st; yet grossly fear'st

Thy death, which is no more.Dr. Johnson's indignation is unjustly excited here, and Mr. Steevens's remark (that this was an oversight of Shakspeare) misplaced: the poet's meaning was no other than that obvious and innocent one recognised by Mr. Malone, and again occurring in the meditation of Hamlet :

To die ! to sleep : “No more; and, by a sleep, to say, we end

“ The heart-ach,” &c. 299. The poor beetle, that we tread upon, In corporal sufferance finds a pang as

great As when a giant dies.The sense intended here cannot readily be mistaken :-a pang as great as that which a giant feels in death but the construction is embarrassed. Perhaps we might read,

“ As doth a giant dying.

304.

Cold obstruction." i. e. I suppose, the state of the body when the circulation of the vital fluids is stopped. 305. The weariest and most loathed worldly

life, That ache, age, penury, imprisonment, Can lay on nature, were a paradise

To what we fear of death.This sentiment, perhaps too natural, and which the force of Dr. Johnson's virtue was not hardy enough to resist, has, by the robuster mind of Milton, been properly ascribed, in Paradise Lost, to the fallen and depraved archangel :

Who would lose, “ Tho' full of pain, this intellectual being, “Those thoughts that wander thro' eternity, To perish rather, swallow’d-up and lost “In the wide womb of uncreated night, " Devoid of sense or motion.

311. “ Refer yourself to this advantage.

i. e. Direct your attention to it. 312. The corrupt deputy scaled.

Dr. Johnson's explanation of “scaled,” by to scale, i. e. (as he says) to reach him, notwithstanding the elevation of his place, will hardly, I fear, be thought satisfactory: if the author had used the metaphor of the scalade, he would at the same time, I think, have applied to the deputy an epithet different from corrupt, and suitable to his image : it would have been the towering deputy, the high-placd deputy. By the connexion of ideas, natural in discourse, there is, perhaps, a reference here to physical or animal corruption.The success of the stratagem, says the Duke, will be a medicine, by which the inward and concealed baseness of this deputy will be brought forth, and diffused about him in disgraceful scales and scrophula. An image similar to this presents itself in King Richard III.,

-Diffus'd infection of a man."

SCENE II.

317. That we were all, as some would seem to

be, Free from our faults, as faults from

seeming, free." The transposition made by Sir Thomas Hanmer, and approved by Mr. Steevens, would at least be blameless, if sense were wanting in the original text: but, perhaps, there is no such defect; and, if I am not mistaking, the thought is not only altered, but impaired by the change.O! exclaims the Duke, that we were, as some men would seem to be, as free from faults, as faults themselves (which every man perceives, and knows the sin of committing) are, from seeming allowable, innocent, or free. The twisting and jingling the word free, occasions the obscurity, but the sentiment is admirable, and finely in character with the speaker. Free,'

” for innocent, blameless, occurs in The Winter's Tale, Act 2:

"- A gracious, innocent soul,
“More free than he is jealous.”

[blocks in formation]

323. "

To extirp it." This unusual verb is not, I believe, to be found any where else in these works. 324.

Much detected for women." I can by no means admit, with Mr. Malone, that detected stands for suspected; and the instances produced from the Old Tales, will not, I fear, support him :-whose daughter was detected of dishonesty, and generally so reported. Detected is, indeed, used here, in the same sense as that to which the Duke applies it; for he who is“ generally reported to be dishonest,” is already more than suspected: but the meaning, in both cases, is, I believe, not suspected, but accused, charged, appeached. Thus in a translation of The Annales of Tacitus, by Greenwey, 1622 :-“A notable example, that a free'd woman should defend, in such great crueltie of torture, strangers, and almost unknown to her, whenas men, and free-born, and gentlemen of Rome, and senators, not touched with tortures, detected the dearest of their kindred.”

[ocr errors]

328. “ Sparrows must not build in his house

eaves, because they are lecherous. Bickerstaff has made a whimsical use of this conceit in the Hypocrite; where it is said of Dr. Cantwell, that " he used to make the maids lock up the turkey cocks every Saturday night, for fear they should gallant with the hens of a Sunday.” 331. There is scarce truth enough alive to

make societies secure; but security enough to make fellowships accursed.

« PreviousContinue »