Imatges de pÓgina

To extend means here, as in many other places, to estimate, or appretiate. However highly l estimate him, my estimation is still short of his real value. So, in a subsequent scene of this play: “ The approbations of those that weep this lamentable divorce, under her colours, are wonderfully to extend him.” The term is, originally, legal.


Liv'd in court (Which rare it is to do), most prais’d, most lov’d:] This encomium is high and artful. To be at once in any great degree loved and praised, is truly rare.

JOHNSON. 54. A glass that featur'd them ; --] Feated is the old reading.

This passage may be well explained by another in the first part of King Henry IV.

-He was indeed the glass
Wherein the noble youths did dress themselves.
Again, Ophelia describes Hamlet, as

The glass of fashion, and the mould of form. To dress themselves therefore may be to form themselves.

Dresser, in French, is to form. To dress a Spaniel, is to break him in. Feat is nice, exact. So in the Tempest :

look how well my garments sit upon me, Much feater than before.

To feat, therefore, may be a verb meaning—to render nice, exact : by the dress of Posthumus, even the more mature courtiers condescended to regulate their external appearance.


99. ( Always reserv'd my holy duty)] I say I do not fear my father, so far as I may say it without breach of duty.


Though ink be made of gall.] Shakspere, even in this poor conceit, has confounded the vegetable galls used in ink, with the animal gall, supposed to be bitter.

JOHNSON. The poet might mean either the vegetable or the animal galls with equal propriety, as the vegetable gall is bitter ; and I have seen an ancient receipt for making ink, beginning, “ Take of the black juice of the gall of oxen two ounces,” &c.

STEEVENS, 132. And sear up my embracements from a next.

With bonds of death !] Shakspere may poetically call the cere-cloths in which the dead are wrapp'd, the bonds of death. If so, we should read cere instead of sear.

Why thy canoniz'd bones hearsed in death

Have burst their cerements ? To sear up, is properly to close up by burning; but in this

passage the poet may have dropp'd that idea, and used the word simply for to close up.

STEVENS. May not sear up, here mean solder up, and the reference be to a lead coffin? Perhaps cerements in Hamlet's address to the ghost, was used for searments in the same sense.

HENLEY, 157.

-a touch more rare

Subdues ali pangs, all fears.] Rare is used often for eminently good; but I do not remember any


passage in which it stands for eminently bad. May we read,

-a touch more near. Cura deam propior luctusque domesticus angit."

Ovid. There is another interpretation, which perhaps will remove the difficulty. A touch more rare, may mean a robber passion.

JOHNSON. So, in Antony and Cleopatra, act i. sc. 2.

The death of Fulvia, with more urgent touches,

Do strongly speak to us. Again, in the Tempest:

Hast thou, which art but air, a touch, a feeling

Of their afflictions ? &c. A touch is not unfrequently used, by other ancient writers, in this sense.

A touch more rare is undoubtedly a more exquisite feeling, a superior sensation. So as Dr. Farmer observes to me in Fraunce's Yvichurch. He is speaking of Mars and Venus, “When sweet tickling joyes of tutching came to the highest poynt, when two were one," &c.


- puttock.) A kite. JOHNSON. 245 -her beauty and her brain, &c.] I believe the lord means to speak a sentence, " Sir, as I told you always, beauty and brain go not together."

JOHNSON. 246. She's a good sign, -] I believe the poet meant nothing by sign, but fair outward shew.



The same allusion is common to other writers. So, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Fair Maid of the Inn :

a common trull,
" A tempting sign, and curiously set forth

" To draw in riotous guests."
Again, in the Elder Brother, by the same authors :

“ Stand still, thou sign of man. To understand the whole force of Shakspere's idea, it should be remembered, that anciently almost every sign had a motto, or some attempt at a witticism, underneath it.

STEEVENS, -written in gold letters.

HENLEY. 260.

-'twere a paper lost As offer'd mercy

is. -] I believe the poet's meaning is, that the loss of that paper would prove'as fatal to her, as the loss of a pardon to a condemn'd criminal.

A thought resembling this occurs in All's Well that Ene's Well: “ Like a remorseful pardon slowly carried.”


'till the diminution Of space had pointed him sharp as my needle:] The diminution of space, is the diminution of which spare is the cause. Trees are killed by a blast of lightning, that is, by blast'ng, not blasted lightning. Johnso 287. --next vantage.] Next opportunity.


-or e'er I could
Give him that parting kiss, which I had set
Betwixt two charming words,

-] Dr. War.



burton pronounces,' as absolutely as if he had been present at their parting, that these two charming words were adieu Posthumus; but as Mr. Edwards has observed, “ she must have understood the language of love very little, if she could find no tenderer expression of it, than the name by which every one called her husband."

STEEVENS. 300. Shakes all our buds from growing.] A bud, without any distinct idea, whether of flower or fruit, is a natural representatian of any thing incipient or immature ; and the buds of flowers, if flowers are meant, grow to flowers, as the buds of fruits grow to fruits.

-the tyrannous breathing of the north,
Shakes all our buds from growing.
A great critick proposes to read,

Shuts all our buds from blowing:
and his emendation may in some measure be confirm.
ed by those beautiful lines in the Two Noble Kinsmen,
which I have no doubt were written by Shakspere.
Emilia is speaking of a rose :

“ It is the very emblem of a maid.
« For when the west wind courts her gentily,
" How modestly she blows, and paints the sun
" With her chaste blushes when the north

coines near her
“ Rude and impatient, then like chastity,
“ She locks her beauties in her bud again,

" And leaves him to base briars." FARMER. I think the old reading may be sufficiently supported B


[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinua »