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inextricable. The reason of all this confusion seems to be, that he took his story from a novel which he sometimes followed, and sometimes forsook, sometimes remembred, and sometimes forgot.
MEASURE FOR MEASURE. There is perhaps not one of Shakespear's plays more darkened than this by the peculiarities of its Authour, and the unskilfulness of its Editors, by distortions of phrase, or negligence of transcription. Act I. SCENE i. (1. i. 7-9.)
Then no more remains ;
And let them work. This is a passage which has exercised the sagacity of the Editors, and is now to employ mine.
Sir Tho. Hanmer having caught from Mr. Theobald a hint that a line was lost, endeavours to supply it thus.
-Then no more remains,
A will to serve us, as your worth is able. He has by this bold conjecture undoubtedly obtained a meaning, but, perhaps not, even in his own opinion, the meaning of Shakespear.
That the passage is more or less corrupt, I believe every reader will agree with the Editors. I am not convinced that a line is lost, as Mr. Theobald conjectures, nor that the change of but to put, which Dr. Warburton has admitted after some other Editor, will amend the fault. There was probably some original obscurity in the expression, which gave occasion to mistake in repetition or transcription. I therefore suspect that the Authour wrote thus,
-Then no more remains, But that to your sufficiencies your worth is abled, And let them work. Then nothing remains more than to tell you Virtue is now invested with power equal to your knowledge and wisdom. Let therefore your knowledge and your virtue now work together. It may easily be conceived how sufficiencies was, by an inarticulate speaker, or inattentive hearer, confounded with sufficiency as, and how abled, a word very unusual, was changed into able. For abled, however, an authority is not wanting. Lear uses it in the same sense, or nearly the same, with the Duke. As for sufficiencies, D. Hamilton, in his dying speech, prays that Charles II. may exceed both the virtues and sufficiencies of his father. ACT I. SCENE Ü. (1. i. 51.)
We have with a leaven'd and prepared choice. Leaven'd has no sense in this place : we should read LEVEL'D choice. The allusion is to archery, when a man has fixed upon his object, after taking good aim.-WARBURTON.
No emendation is necessary. Leaven'd choice is one of Shakespear's harsh metaphors. His train of ideas
seems to be this. I have proceeded to you with choice mature, concocted, fermented, leavened. When Bread is leavened, it is left to ferment: a leavened choice is therefore a choice not hasty, but considerate, not declared as soon as it fell into the imagination, but suffered to work long in the mind. Thus explained it suits better with prepared than levelled. Act II. SCENE ix. (11. iii. 11-12.)
W bo falling in the flaws of her own youth,
Hath blister'd her report. Who does not see that the integrity of the metaphor requires we should read FLAMES of her own youth.-WARBURTON.
Who does not see that upon such principles there is no end of correction.
Act III. SCENE I. (m. i. 13-15.)
I bou art not noble :
Are nurs'd by baseness. Dr. Warburton is undoubtedly mistaken in supposing that by baseness is meant self-love here assigned as the motive of all human actions. Shakespear meant only to observe, that a minute analysis of life at once destroys that splendour which dazzles the imagination. Whatever grandeur can display, or luxury enjoy, is procured by baseness, by offices of which the mind shrinks from the contemplation. All the delicacies of the table may be traced back to the shambles and the dunghill, all magnificence of building was hewn from the quarry, and all the pomp of ornaments, dug from among the damps and darkness of the mine. Act III. SCENE I. (111. i. 16-17.)
Tbe soft and tender fork Of a poor worm. Worm is put for any creeping thing or serpent. Shakespear supposes falsely, but according to the vulgar notion, that a serpent wounds with his tongue, and that his tongue is forked. He confounds reality and fiction, a serpent's tongue is soft but not forked nor hurtful. If it could hurt, it could not be soft. In Midsummer-Night's Dream he has the same notion.
With doubler tongue
I by best of rest is sleep,
Tby deatb wbich is no more. Evidently from the following passage of Cicero; Habes somnum imaginem Mortis, eamque quotidie induis, & dubitas quin sensus in morte nullus sit, cum in ejus simulacro videas essè nullum sensum. But the Epicurean insinuation is, with great judgment, omitted in the imitation. WARBURTON.
Here Dr. Warburton might have found a sentiment worthy of his animadversion. I cannot without indignation find Shakespear saying, that death is only sleep, lengthening out his exhortation by a sentence which in the Friar is impious, in the reasoner is foolish, and in the poet trite and vulgar.
Act III. SCENE i. (111. i. 32–4.)
Tbou bast nor youth, nor age :
Dreaming on both. This is exquisitely imagined. When we are young we busy ourselves in forming schemes for succeeding time, and miss the gratifications that are before us ; when we are old we amuse the languour of age
with the recollection of youthful pleasures or performances ; so that our life, of which no part is filled with the business of the present time, resembles our dreams after dinner, when the events of the morning are mingled with the designs of the evening.
Act III. SCENE i. (m. i. 36–8.)
W ben thou'rt old and ricb,
To make tby riches pleasant. But how does beauty make riches pleasant' We should read BOUNTY, which compleats the sense, and is this ; Thou hast neither the pleasure of enjoying riches thy self, for thou wantest vigour : nor of seeing it enjoyed by others, for thou wantest bounty. Where the making the want of bounty as inseparable from old age as the want of bealth, is extremely satirical tho' not altogether just.-WARBURTON.
I am inclined to believe that neither man nor woman will have much difficulty to tell how beauty makes riches pleasant. Surely this emendation, though it is elegant and ingenious, is not such as that an opportunity of inserting it should be purchased by declaring ignorance of what every one knows, by confessing insensibility of what every one feels. Act III. SCENE ii. (1. i. 137-8.)
Is'ı not a kind of incest, to take life
From ibine own sister's shame? In Isabella's declamation there is something harsh, and something forced and far-fetched. But her indignation cannot be thought violent when we consider her not only as a virgin but as a nun. Act IV. SCENE VÜï. (iv. üii. 4-5.)
First bere's young Mr. Rash, &c. This enumeration of the inhabitants of the prison affords a very striking view of the practices predominant in Shakespear's age. Besides those whose follies are common to all times, we have four fighting men and a traveller. It is not unlikely that the originals of these pictures were then known. Act IV. SCENE xiii. (iv. V. 1.)
DUKE. These letters at fir time deliver me. Peter never delivers the letters, but tells his story without any credentials. The poet forgot the plot which he had formed. ACT V. SCENE vii. (v. i. 448.)
'Till be did look on me. The Duke has justly observed that Isabel is importuned against all sense to solicit for Angelo, yet here against all sense she solicits for him. Her argument is extraordinary.
A due sincerity govern'd his deeds,
Let him not die. That Angelo had committed all the crimes charged against him, as far as he could commit them, is evident.