ページの画像
PDF
ePub

Act III. SCENE ï. (111. ïi. 55-8.)
I ne'er beard

yet,
Tbat any of those bolder vices wanted
Less impudence to gainsay wbat they did,

Than to perform it first. It is apparent that according to the proper, at least according to the present, use of words, less should be more, or wanted should be had. But Shakespeare is very uncertain in his use of negatives. It may be necessary once to observe, that in our language two negatives did not originally affirm, but strengthen the negation. This mode of speech was in time changed, but as the change was made in opposition to long custom, it proceeded gradually, and uniformity was not obtained but through an intermediate confusion. Act III. SCENE iv. (11. ii. 152–73.)

This vehement retractation of Leontes, accompanied with the confession of more crimes than he was suspected of, is agreeable to our daily experience of the vicissitudes of violent tempers, and the eruptions of minds oppressed with guilt. Act IV. SCENE iv. (ıv. iii. 21-2.)

How would be look, to see his work, so noble,

Vilely bound up! It is impossible for any man to rid his mind of his profession. The authourship of Shakespeare has supplied him with a metaphor, which rather than he would lose it, he has put with no great propriety into the mouth of a country maid. Thinking of his own works his mind passed naturally to the Binder. I am glad that he has no hint at an Editor.

Act V. SCENE V. (v. ii. 43-4.)

3 GENTLEMAN. Did you see the meeting of the two Kings ? It was, I suppose, only to spare his own labour that

the poet put this whole scene into narrative, for though part of the transaction was already known to the audience, and therefore could not properly be shewn again, yet the two kings might have met upon the stage, and after the examination of the old shepherd, the young Lady might have been recognized in sight of the spectators.

Of this play no edition is known published before the folio of 1623.

The story is taken from the novel of Dorastus and Faunia, which may be read in Shakespeare illustrated.

This play, as Dr. Warburton justly observes, is, with all its absurdities, very entertaining. The character of Autolycus is very naturally conceived, and strongly represented.

TWELFTH NIGHT.

Act I. SCENE i. (1. i. 19, 21.)

0, when my eyes did see Olivia first,

Tbat instant I was turn'd into a bart. This image evidently alludes to the story of Acteon, by which Shakespeare seems to think men cautioned against too great familiarity with forbidden beauty. Acteon, who saw Diana naked, and was torn in pieces by his hounds, represents a man, who indulging his eyes, or his imagination, with the view of a woman that he cannot gain, has his heart torn with incessant longing. An interpretation far more elegant and natural than that of Sir Francis Bacon, who, in his . Wisdom of the Antients, supposes this story to warn us against enquiring into the secrets of princes, by showing, that those who knew that which for reasons of state is to be concealed, will be detected and destroyed by their own servants.

ACT I. SCENE Ïi. (1. ii. 39.)

O, that I sero'd that lady &c. Viola seems to have formed a very deep design with very little premeditation : she is thrown by shipwreck on an unknown coast, hears that the prince is a batchelor, and resolves to supplant the lady whom he courts. ACT I. SCENE Ü. (1. ii. 53.) I'll serve this Duke.

Viola is an excellent schemer, never at a loss; if she cannot serve the lady, she will serve the Duke. Act II. SCENE IV. (11. üi. 86.) Tilly valley.

Tilly valley was an interjection of contempt, which Sir Thomas More's lady is recorded to have had very often in her mouth. Act II. SCENE VÜï. (11. v. 66–8.)

MALVOLIO. I frown tbe while, and, percbance, wind up my watcb, or play with some rich jewel.

In our authour's time watches were very uncommon. When Guy Faux was taken, it was urged as a circumstance of suspicion that a watch was found upon him. Act III. SCENE X. (ur. iv. 185–7.)

SIR TOBY. Fare thee well, and God bave mercy upon one of our souls : be may bave mercy upon mine, but my bope is better.

We may read, He may have mercy upon thine, but my hope is better. Yet the passage may well enough stand without alteration.

It were much to be wished, that Shakespeare in this and some other passages, had not ventured so near profaneness. Act III. SCENE xii. (. iv. 260-1.)

He is Knight, dubb’d with unback'd rapier, and on carpet consideration.

That is, he is no soldier by profession, not a Knight Banneret, dubbed in the field of battle, but, on carpet consideration, at a festivity, or on some peaceable occasion, when knights receive their dignity kneeling not on the ground, as in war, but on a carpet. This is, I believe, the original of the contemptuous term a carpet knight, who was naturally held in scorn by the men of war.

Act V. SCENE I. (v. i. 42.) Bells of St. Bennet.

When in this play he mentioned the bed of Ware, he recollected that the scene was in Illyria, and added in England; but his sense of the same impropriety could not restrain him from the bells of St. Bennet.

This play is in the graver part elegant and easy, and in some of the lighter scenes exquisitely humorous. Ague-cheek is drawn with great propriety, but his character is, in a great measure, that of natural fatuity, and is therefore not the proper prey of a satirist. The soliloquy of Malvolio is truly comick; he is betrayed to ridicule merely by his pride. The marriage of Olivia, and the succeeding perplexity, though well enough contrived to divert on the stage, wants credibility, and fails to produce the proper instruction required in the drama, as it exhibits no just picture of life.

THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR.

Act II. SCENE IV. (11. i. 147.)

PAGE. I will not believe such a Cataian. To be a foreigner was always in England, and I suppose every where else, a reason of dislike. Act II. SCENE Viü. (11. ii. 94-5.) A very frampold life.

This word I have never seen elsewhere except in Dr. Hackets life of Archbishop Williams, where a frampul man signifies a peevish troublesome fellow. Act III. SCENE XÜ. (m. iv. 13-14.)

Tby fatber's wealtb Was the first motive that I wo0'd ibee. Some light may be given to those who shall endeavour to calculate the encrease of English wealth, by observing, that Latymer in the time of Edward VI. mentions it as a proof of his father's prosperity, That though but a yeoman, he gave his daughters five pounds each for her portion. At the latter end of Elizabeth, seven hundred pounds were such a temptation to courtship, as made all other motives suspected. Congreve makes twelve thousand pounds more than à counterballance to the affectation of Belinda. No poet would now fly his favourite character at less than fifty thousand.

Act III. SCENE xvii. (III. V. 157-8.) r'll be born-mad.

There is no image which our authour appears so fond of as that of a cuckold's horns. Scarcely a light character is introduced that does not endeavour to produce merriment by some allusion to horned husbands. As he wrote his plays for the stage rather than the press, he perhaps reviewed them seldom, and did not observe this repetition, or finding the jest, however frequent, still successful, did not think correction necessary. ACT IV. SCENE V. (iv. ii. 208–9.)

I spy a great peard under her mufler. As the second stratagem, by which Falstaff escapes, is much the grosser of the two, I wish it had been practised first. It is very unlikely that Ford having been so deceived before, and knowing that he had been

« 前へ次へ »