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Arm. For mine own part, I breathe free breath: I have seen the day of wrong through the little hole of discretion, and I will right myself like a soldier.
[Exeunt Worthies. King. How fares your majesty? Prin. Boyet, prepare; I will away to-night. King. Madam, not so; I do beseech you, stay.
Prin. Prepare, I say.-I thank you, gracious lords, For all your fair endeavours; and entreat, Out of a new-sad soul, that
you vouchsafe In
your rich wisdom, to excuse, or hide,
I have seen the day of wrong through the little hole of discretion,] This has no meaning. We should read, the day of right; i. e. I have seen that a day will come when I shall have justice done me, and therefore I prudently reserve myself for that time.
Warburton. I believe it rather means, I have hitherto looked on the indignities I have received, with the eyes of discretion, (i.e. not been too forward to resent them) and shall insist on such satisfaction as will not disgrace my character, which is that of a soldier. To have decided the quarrel in the manner proposed by his antagonist, would have been at once a derogation from the honour of a soldier, and the pride of a Spaniard.
“One may see day at a little hole,” is a proverb in Ray's Collection : “Day-light will peep through a little hole,” in Kelly's. Again, in Churchyard's Charge, 1580, p. 9:
" At little hoales the daie is seen.' Steevens. The
passage is faulty; but Warburton has mistaken the meaning of it, and the place in which the error lies.
Armado means to say, in his affected style, that “he had discovered that he was wronged, and was determined to right himself as a soldier;" and this meaning will be clearly expressed if we read it thus, with a very slight alteration :-“I have seen the day of wrong, through the little hole of discretion.” M. Mason.
- liberal -] Free to excess. So, in The Merchant of Venice :
- there they show “Something too liberal.” Steevens. 6 In the converse of breath,] Perhaps converse may, in this line, mean interchange. Fohnson.
Converse of breath means no more than conversation 5 made up of breath,” as our author expresses himself in Othello. Thus also, in The Merchant of Venice:
“ Therefore I scant this breathing courtesy.” Steevens.
Was guilty of it.-Farewel, worthy lord!
King. The extreme parts of time extremely form
7 A heavy heart bears not an humble tongue :) Thus all the edi. tions; but, surely, without either sense or truth. None are more humble in speech, than they who labour under any oppression. The Princess is desiring her grief may apologize for her not ex. pressing her obligations at large; and my correction is conformable to that sentiment. Besides, there is an antithesis between heavy and nimble; but between heavy and humble, there is none.
Theobald. The following passage in King John, inclines me to dispute the propriety of Mr. Theobald's emendation:
-grief is proud, and makes his owner stout.” By humble, the Princess seems to mean obsequiously thankful.
Steevens. So, in The Merchant of Venice:
“ Shall I bend low, and in a bondman's key
“ With 'bated breath, and whispering humbleness,” &c. A heavy heart, says the Princess, does not admit of that verbal obeisance which is paid by the humble to those whom they ad. dress. Farewel therefore at once. Malone.
8 And often, at his very loose, decides &c.] At his very loose, may mean, at the moment of his parting, i. e. of his getting loose, or away from us.
So, in some ancient poem, of which I forgot to preserve either the date or title:
“Envy discharging all her pois'nous darts,
“ The valiant mind is temper'd with that fire, " At her fierce loose that weakly never parts,
“But in despight doth force her to retire.” Steevens. - which fain it would convince ;] We must read:
which fain would it convince;", that is, the entreaties of love which would fain over-power grief. So, Lady Macbeth declares: “That she will convince the cham. berlains with wine.” Johnson.
If Johnson was right with respect to the meaning of this pas. sage, I should think that the words, as they now stand, would express it without the transposition which he proposes to make.
Yet, since love's argument was first on foot,
Prin. I understand you not; my griefs are double.?
grief; And by these badges understand the king. For your fair sakes have we neglected time,
Place a comma after the word it, and fain it would convince, will signify the same as fain would convince it.-In reading, it is certain that a proper emphasis will supply the place of that transposition. But I believe that the words which fain it would convince, mean only what it would wish to succeed in obtaining. To convince is to overcomie; and to prevail in a suit which was strongly denied, is a kind of conquest. M. Mason.
1 I understand you not; my griefs are double.] I suppose, she means, 1. on account of the death of her father; 2. on account of not understanding the king's meaning: A modern editor, [Mr. Capell] instead of double, reads deaf; but the former is not at all likely to have been mistaken, either by the eye or the ear, for the latter. Malonė.
2 Honest plain words &c.] As it seems not very proper for Biron to court the Princess for the King in the king's presence at this critical moment, I believe the speech is given to a wrong person. I read thus:
Prin. I understand you not, my griefs are double :
King. And by these badges &c. Johnson. Too many authors sacrifice propriety to the consequence of their principal character, into whose mouth they are willing to put more than justly belongs to him, or at least the best things they have to say. The original actor of Biron, however, like Bottom in The Midsummer Night's Dream, might have wrested this speech from an inferior performer. I have been assured, that Mercutio's rhapsody concerning the tricks of Queen Mab, was put into the mouth of Romeo by the late Mr. Sheridan, as often as he himself performed that character in Ireland. Steedens.
I think Johnson judges ill in wishing to give this speech to the King, it is an apology not for him alone, but for all the competitors in oaths, and Biron is generally their spokesman. M. Masun.
In a former part of this scene Biron speaks for the King and the other lords, and being at length exhausted, tells them, they must woo for themselves. I believe, therefore, the old copies are right in this respect; but think with Dr. Johnson that the line “ Honest,” &c. belongs to the Princess. Malone. VOL. IV.
Play'd foul play with our oaths; your beauty, ladies,
Prin. We have receiv'd your letters, full of love;
3 Full of strange shapes, of habits, and of forms,] The old co. pies read-Full of straying shapes. Both the sense and the metre appear to me to require the emendation which I suggested some time ago : “strange shapes” might have been easily confounded by the ear with the words that have been substituted in their room. In Coriolanus we meet with a corruption of the same kind, which could only have arisen in this way:
Better to starve “ Than crave the higher [hire) which first we do deserve.”. The following passages of our author will, I apprehend, fully support the correction that has been made :
" In him a plenitude of subtle matter,
Lover's Complaint. Again, in The Rape of Lucrece:
- the impression of strange kinds “Is form'd in them, by force, by fraud, or skill.” In King Henry V, 4to. 1600, we have— Forraging blood of French nobility, instead of Forrage in blood, &c. Mr. Čapell, I find, has made the same emendation Malone..
4 Suggested us -1. That is, tempted us. Fohnson. So, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona:
“Knowing that tender youth is soon suggested." Steevens:
Your favours, the embassadors of love;
5 As bombast, and as lining to the time :) This line is obscure. Bombast was a kind of loose 'texture not unlike what is now called wadding, used to give the dresses of that time 'bulk and protuberance, without much increase of weight; whence the same name is given to a tumour of words unsupported by solid sentiment. The Princess, therefore, says, that they considered this courtship as but bombast, as something to fill out life, which not being closely united with it, might be thrown away at pleasure.
In their own fashion, like a merriment.
But more devout than this (save our respects)
Have we not been;
But more devout than this, in our respects.
But more devout than these are your respects
Have we not seen, - Tyrwhitt. The difficulty, I believe, arises only from Shakspeare's remarkable position of his words, which may be thus construed.-But we have not been more devout, or made a more serious matter of your letters and favours than these our respects, or considerations and reckonings of them, are, and as we have just before said, we rated them in oir maiden council at courtship, pleasant jest, and courtesy. Tollet. The quarto, 1598, reads:
But more devout than this our respects. There can be no doubt, therefore, that Sir T. Hanmer's conjecture is right. The word in, which the compositor inadver. tently omitted, completes both the sense and metre. Malone