Imatges de pÓgina
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The which, in every language I pronounce;
Stuffing the ears of men with false reports,
I fpeak of peace while covert enmity,
Under the fmile of fafety, wounds the world;
And who but rumour, who but only I,
Make fearful mufters, and prepar'd defence,
*Whilft the big year, fwol'n with fome other griefs,
Is thought with child by the ftern tyrant war,
And no fuch matter? Rumour is a pipe
Blown by furmifes, jealoufies, conjectures ;
And, of so easy and so plain a stop,
That the blunt monfter, with uncounted heads,
The still difcordant wavering multitude,
Can play upon it.

ACT I. SCENE I.

CONTENTION.

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Contention, like a horfe

Fall of high feeding, madly hath broke loofe,
And bears down all before him.

ACT I. SCENE II.

Poft-Meffenger.

After him came fpurring hard

A gentleman, almost fore-fpent with speed,
That stopp'd by me to breathe his bloodied horse:
He afk'd the way to Chefler; and of him
I did demand the news from Shrewsbury.
He told me that rebellion had ill luck;
And that young Harry Piercy's fpur was cold.

New-rais'd fedition, fecret whispers blown
By nameless authors and of things unknown,
Fame all that's done in heav'n, earth, ocean views,
And o'er the world still hunts around for news.

* Year, &c.] Others read ear.

See Garth's Ovid. b. 12.

With

With that he gave his able horse the head,
And, bending forward, ftruck his agile heels
Against the panting fides of his poor jade
Up to the rowel-head; and, ftarting fo,
He feem'd in running to devour the way,
Staying no longer queftion.

SCENE III. Messenger with ill news.
Yea, this man's brow, like to a title-leaf,
Foretels the nature of a tragic volume:
So looks the ftrond, whereon th' imperious flood
Hath left a witness'd ufurpation.

Thou trembleft, and the whiteness in thy cheek
Is apter than thy tongue to tell thy errand,
Even fuch a man, fo faint, fo fpiritless,
So dull, fo dead in look, fo woe-be-gone,
Drew Priam's curtain in the dead of night,
And would have told him half his Troy was burn'd.
I fee a strange confeffion in thine eye;

Thou shak'ft thy head, and hold it it fear or fin
To fpeak.a truth: If he be flain, fay fo;
The tongue offends not that reports his death:
And he doth fin, that doth belie the dead,
Not he, which fays, the dead is not alive.
(2) Yet the first bringer of unwelcome news
Hath but a lofing office; and his tongue
Sounds ever after as a fullen bell,
Remember'd tolling a departing friend.

(2) Yet &c.] Mr. Theobald remarks "this obfervation is cer tainly true in nature, and has the fanction of no lefs authorities than thofe of Efchylus and Sophocles, who fay almost the fame thing with our author here."

Ωμοι, &c.

Alas! the bringer of unwelcome news
Hath but an evil and unwelcome office..

The ingrateful task of bringing evil news
Is everodious

I

fcbylus

Sophocles.
Greater

Greater griefs deftroy the lefs.

As the wretch, whofe fever-weaken'd joints,
Like ftrengthless hinges, buckle under life,
Impatient of his fit, breaks like a fire
Out of his keeper's arms; ev'n fo my limbs,
Weaken'd with grief, being now enrag'd with grief,
Are thrice themselves. Hence therefore, thou nice
crutch;

A fcaly gauntlet now with joints of steel

Muft glove this hand: And hence, thou fickly quoif, *-
Thou art a guard too wanton for the head,
Which princes, flesh'd with conqueft, aim to hit.
Now bind my brows with iron, and approach
The rugged'ft hour that time and spight dare bring
To frown upon th' enrag'd Northumberland!
(3) Let heav'n kifs earth! now let not nature's hand

(3) Let] Longinus in his 15th fection fpeaking of noble and terrible images, commends fchylus for his fuccefs in them : Afchylus, fays he, has made bold attempts in noble and truly heroic images: as, in one of his tragedies, the feven commanders against Thebes, without betraying the leaft fign of pity or regret, bind themselves by oath not to furvive Eteocles:

The feven, awarlike leader, each in chief,

Stood round, and o'er the black bronze fhield they flew
A fullen bull then plunging deep their hands

Into the foaming gore, with oaths invok'd
Mars and Enyo, and blood-thirsty terror."

Upon which the translator, judiciously quoting a fine image of this fort from Milton, afterwards obferves how vehemently does the fury of Northumberland exert itself in Shakespear, when he hears of the death of his fon Hotspur. The rage and diftraction of the furviving father fhews how important the fon was in his opinion. Nothing must be, now he is not: Nature itself muft fall with Percy. His grief renders him frantic; his anger defperate.' And I think we may juftly add, that no writer excells fo much in these great and terrible images as Shakespear, the Æfchylus of the British ftage. See Timon of Athens, A. 4. S. 1.

Keep

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Keep the wild flood confin'd! Let order die,
And let this world no longer be a ftage
To feed contention in a ling'ring act:
But let one fpirit of the first-born Cain
Reign in all bofoms, that each heart being fet
On bloody courfes, the rude fcene may end,
(4) And darkness be the burier of the dead!

1

SCENE VI. The fickleness of the vulgar.

* An habitation giddy and unfure
Hath he, that buildeth on the vulgar heart.
O thou fond many! with what loud applause
Did'st thou beat heav'n with bleffing Bolingbroke,
Before he was, what thou would'st have him be?
And now, being trim'd up in thine own defires,
Thou, beaftly feeder, art fo full of him,
That thou provok'ft thyfelf to caft him up.

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(5) O gentle fleep,

Nature's foft nurse, how have I frighted thee,

(4) And &c.] Εμεθανοντος γαια μιχθήτω πορν. With me, departing hence, all earth confum'd Perish in general conflagration.

And Medea tells us, the fhall then only reft
When with herself all nature is involv'd
In univerfal ruin.→→→→→→

That

Sen. Med. A& 3.

Sleep a god too proud to wait in palaces:

And yet fo humble too as not to fcorn

The meanest country cottages:
His poppey grows amongst the corn.

See Coriolanus, A. 1. S. 3.

(5) O gentle, &c.] Horace, in his 3d book and first ode, tells us, Sleep difdains not to dwell with the poor; take it in Mr. Cowley's paraphrafe :

The

That thou no more wilt weigh my eye-lids down,
And steep my fenfes in forgetfulness?

Why rather, fleep, ly'st thou in fmoaky cribs,
Upon uneafy pallets ftretching thee,

And hush'd with buzzing night-flies to thy flumber;
Than in the perfum'd chambers of the great,
Under the canopies of coftly state,

And lull'd with founds of fweetest melody?

O thou dull god, why ly'ft thou with the vile
In loathfome beds, and leav'ft the kingly couch
A watch-cafe to a common larum-bell?

Wilt thou, upon the high and giddy mast,
Seal up the ship-boys eyes, and rock his brains,,
In cradle of the rude, imperious furge;
And in the vifitation of the winds,
Who take the ruffian billows by the top,
Curling their monftrous heads, and hanging them
With deaf'ning clamours in the flipp'ry shrouds,

The halcyon fleep will never build his neft,
In any ftormy breast;

'Tis not enough that he does find
Clouds and darkness in their mind,
Darkness but half his work will do;
'Tis not enough, he must find quiet too.

But whatever paffages we may find like the former part of this fpeech, there is nothing I ever met with equal to the bold and fublime flight in the latter part of it: Lee, indeed, has taken a hint from it, the thought is fo great and uncommon, it must be only Shakespear that could have foar'd fo high.

So fleeps the fea-boy on the cloudy maft,
Safe as a drowsy Tryton, rock'd with storms,
While toffing princes wake on beds of down.

Mithridates.

Sir Thomas Hanmer thus explains the line A watch-cafe, &c. "This alludes to the watchmen fet in garifon-towns, upon fome eminence attending upon an alarum-bell, which he was to ring out in cafe of fire, or any approaching danger. He had a cafe or box to fhelter him from the weather, but at his utmost peril he was not to fleep whilst he was upon duty. These alarum-bells are mentioned in feveral other places of Shakespear." The word Pallet at the beginning fignifies a little low bed

That,

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