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Of a poor worm: * Thy best of rest is sleep,
the soft and tender fork of a poor worm :] Worm is put for any creeping thing or Jerpent. Shakspeare supposes falsely, but according to the vulgar notion, that a ferpent wounds with his tongue, and thai his tongue is forked. He confounds reality and fi&ion; a serpent's tongue is Soft, but not forked nor hurtful. If it could hurt, it could not be foft. In A Midsummer Night's Dream he has the same notion :
16 With doubler tongue
" Than thine, O serpent, never adder stung." Johnson.
Thy best of reft is sleep,
Thy death, which is no more. ] Evidently from the following passage of Cicero: “ Habes fomnum imaginem mortis, eamque quotidie induis, & dubitas quin Senfus in morte nullus sit, cum in ejus fimulacio videas fe nullum fenfum.' But the Epicurean insinuation is, with great judgement, omitted in the imitation. Warburton.
Here Dr. Waìburton might have found a sentiment worthy of liis animadversion. I cannot without indignation find Shakspeare suying, that death is only sleep, lengthening out his exhortation by a sentence which in the friar is impious, in the reasoner is foolish, aud in the poet trite and vulgar. JOHNSON,
This was an oversight in Shakspeare ; for in the second scene of the fourth a&, the Provost speaks of the desperate Barnardine, as one who regards death only as a drunken Reep. Steevens.
I apprehend Shakspeare means to say no more , than that tlic passage froin this life to another is as easy as leep; a position in which there is surely neither folly nor impiety. MALONE.
4 Thou art not thyself;] Thou art perpetually repaired and renovated by external assistance, thou sublistest upon foreign matter, and baft no power of producing or continuing thy own being.
For thy complexion shifts to strange effects,
- frange effcas, For effeals read affrets; that is, affe&tions, passions of mind, or disorders of body variousy affected. So, in Othello :
" The young affects." JOHNSON.
like an ass, whose back with ingots bows, ] This fimile is far more ancient than Shakspeare's play. It occurs in T. Churchyard's Discourse of Rebellion, &c. 1570 :
6. Rebellion thus, with paynted vizage brave,
STEEVENS.' serpigo,] The serpigo is a kind of tetter. STEEVENS.
Thou hast nor youth, nor age;
Dreaming on both : ] This is exquifitely 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 languor of age with the recolledion 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 cvening. JOHNSON.
palfied eld; ] Eld is generally used for old age, decrepitudes It is here put for old people, persons worn with years, So, in Marston's Dutch Courtesan, 1604 : os Let colder eid their strong objections move,
Thou hast neither heat,'affection, limb, nor beauty,' To make thy riches pleasant. What's yet in this;
Again, in our author's Merry Wives of Windfor:
“ The superstitious idle-headed eld." Gower uses it for age as opposed to youth :
• His elde had turned into youth.”
De Confeffione Amantis, Lib. V. fol. 106. STEEVENS.
- for all thy blessed youth
Thou hast neither heat, &c.] The drift of this period is to prove, that neither youth nor age can be said to be really enjoyed, which, in poetical language, is, We have neither youth nor age. Put how is this made out? That age is not enjoyed, he proves by recapitulating the infirmities of it, which deprive that period of liie of all se se of pleasure. To prove that youth is not enjoyed, he ules there words:
for all thy blessed youth
of palfied eld; Out of which, he that can deduce the conclusion, has a better knack at logic than I have, I suppose the poct wrote,
For pall'd, thy blazed youth
0! palfied eld; i. e. when thy youthful appetite becomes palled, as it will be ia the very enjoyment, the blaze of youth is at once assuaged, and thou inimediately contra&eft the infirmities of old age; as particularly the palsy and other nervous disorders, consequent on the inordinate use of sensual pleasures. This is to the purpose; and proves youth is not enjoyed, by shewing the short duration of it.*
WARBURTON, Here again I think Dr. Warburton totally mistaken. Shakspeare declares that man has neither youth nor age; for in youth, which is the happieit time, or which might be the happiest, he commonly wauis means to obtain what he could enjoy; he is dependent on palhied eld: must beg alms from the coffers of hoary avarice; and being very niggardly supplied, becomes as aged, looks, like an old man, on happiness which is beyond his reach. And, when he is old and rich, when he has wealth enough for the purchase of all that formerly excited his desires, he has no longer the powers of enjoyment;
has neither heat, affe&ion, limb, nor beauty, To make his riches pleasant.
That bears the name of life? Yet in this life
I humbly thank you.
I have explained this passage according to the present reading,
stand withoul'much inconvenience; yet I*am willing to persuade my reader, because I have almost persuaded myself, ihat our author wrote,
· for all thy blasted youth
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. JOHNSON.
By o heat" and " affe&ion” the poet meant to express appetite, and by " limb and a beauty" strength. EDWARDS.
more thousand deaths :) For this Sir T. Hanmer reads:
- a thousand deaths:
And, seeking death, find life : } Had the Friar, in reconciling
ISĄB. What, ho! Peace here; grace and good
As many as you please.
Now, fifter, what's the comfort?
Claudio 10 death, urged to him the certainty of liappiness hereafter,
Mr M. Mason seems to forget that ro a&tual Friar was the speaker,
Bring them to speak, where I may be conceald,
Pot hear them. I The first copy, published by the players, gives
Bring them to hear me speak, where I may be conceal'd.
Bring me to hear them Speak, where I, &c. STEEVENS.
There are undoubted proofs that they were merely arbitrary;
I am of a different opinion, in which I am joined by Dr. Farmer; an consequently prefer the reading of the second folio to my own Farmpi at emendation, though Mr. Malonc has done me the honour lo duopt it.