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Finds shapes of grief, more than himself, to wail;
Or if it be, 'tis with false sorrow's eye,
QUEEN. It may be so; but yet my inward soul
QUEEN. "Tis nothing less; conceit is still deriv'd From some forefather grief; mine is not so; For nothing hath begot my something grief; Or something hath the nothing that I grieve2:
So, in Hentzner, 1598, Royal Palace, Whitehall : "Edwardi VI. Angliæ regis effigies, primo intuitu monstrosum quid repræsentans, sed si quis effigiem rectâ intueatur, tum vera depræhenditur." FARMER.
The perspectives here mentioned, were not pictures, but round chrystal glasses, the convex surface of which was cut into faces, like those of the rose-diamond; the concave left uniformly smooth. These chrystals-which were sometimes mounted on tortoise-shell box-lids, and sometimes fixed into ivory cases-if placed as here represented, would exhibit the different appearances described by the poet.
The word shadows is here used, in opposition to substance, for reflected images, and not as the dark forms of bodies, occasioned by their interception of the light that falls upon them. HENLEY.
9 As, though, IN thinking, on no thought I think,] Old copy, -on thinking; but we should read-" As though in thinking;" that is, though musing, I have no distinct idea of calamity." The involuntary and unaccountable depression of the mind, which every one has sometime felt, is here very forcibly described.
I 'Tis nothing but CONCEIT,] Conceit is here, as in King Henry VIII. and many other places, used for a fanciful conception. MALONE.
2 For nothing hath begot my something grief; Or something hath the nothing that I grieve:] With these
"Tis in reversion that I do possess;
But what it is, that is not yet known3; what
GREEN. God save your majesty!-and well met, gentlemen:
lines I know not well what can be done.
The Queen's reasoning, as it now stands, is this: my trouble is not conceit, for conceit is still derived from some antecedent cause, some fore-father grief; but with me the case is, that either my real grief hath no real cause, or some real cause has produced a fancied grief.' That is, 'my grief is not conceit, because it either has not a cause like conceit, or it has a cause like conceit.' This can hardly stand. Let us try again, and read thus:
"For nothing hath begot my something grief; "Not something hath the nothing that I grieve: That is, my grief is not conceit; conceit is an imaginary uneasiness from some past occurrence.' But, on the contrary, here is real grief without a real cause; not a real cause with a fanciful sorrow.' This, I think, must be the meaning; harsh at the best, yet better than contradiction or absurdity. JOHNSON.
3 "Tis in reversion that I do possess ;
But what it is, that is not yet known, &c.] I am about to propose an interpretation which many will think harsh, and which I do not offer for certain. To possess a man, in Shakspeare, is to inform him fully, to make him comprehend. To be possessed, is to be fully informed. Of this sense the examples are numerous : "I have possess'd him my most stay can be but short." Measure for Measure.
Is he yet possess'd
"What sum you would?" Merchant of Venice.
I therefore imagine the Queen says thus :
" 'Tis in reversion—that I do possess ;— "The event is yet in futurity "-that I know with full conviction "but what it is, that is not yet known." In any other interpretation she must say that she possesses what is not yet come, which, though it may be allowed to be poetical and figurative language, is yet, I think, less natural than my explanation. JOHNSON.
As the grief the Queen felt, was for some event which had not yet come to pass, or at least not yet come to her knowledge, she expresses this by saying that the grief which she then actually possessed, was still in reversion, as she had no right to feel the grief until the event should happen which was to occasion it.
I hope, the king is not yet shipp'd for Ireland. QUEEN. Why hop'st thou so? 'tis better hope, he is;
For his designs crave haste, his haste good hope;
And driven into despair an enemy's hope,
Now God in heaven forbid!
GREEN. O, madam, 'tis too true: and that is
The lord Northumberland, his son young Henry
The lords of Ross, Beaumond, and Willoughby,
BUSHY. Why have you not proclaim'd Northumberland,
And all the rest of the revolted faction, traitors 5 ? GREEN. We have: whereon the earl of Worcester
Hath broken his staff, resign'd his stewardship,
QUEEN. So, Green, thou art the midwife to my
might have RETIR'D his power,] Might have drawn it back. A French sense. JOHNSON.
So, in The Rape of Lucrece:
"Each one, by him enforc'd, retires his ward.” Malone. 5 And ALL the rest oF THE revolted faction, traitors ?] The first quarto, 1597, reads:
"And all the rest revolted faction, traitors?"
The folio and quartos 1598 and 1608 :
"And the rest of the revolting faction, traitors?'
And Bolingbroke my sorrow's dismal heiro:
I will despair and be at enmity
Who shall hinder me?
GREEN. Here comes the duke of York.
QUEEN. With signs of war about his aged neck; O, full of careful business are his looks!
For heaven's sake speak comfortable words.
- my sorrow's dismal heir:] The author seems to have used heir in an improper sense, an heir being one that inherits by succession, is here put for one that succeeds, though he succeeds but in order of time, not in order of descent. JOHNSON.
Johnson has mistaken the meaning of this passage also. The Queen does not in any way allude to Bolingbroke's succession to the crown, an event, of which she could at that time have had no idea. She had said before, that "some unborn sorrow, ripe in fortune's womb, was coming towards her." She talks afterwards of her unknown griefs being begotten; " she calls Green "the midwife of her woe; and then means to say, in the same metaphorical jargon, that the arrival of Bolingbroke was the dismal offspring that her foreboding sorrow was big of; which she expresses by calling him her "sorrow's dismal heir," and explains more fully and intelligibly in the following line:
"Now hath my soul brought forth her prodigy."
7 thou art the MIDWIFE to my woe,
And I, a gasping new-DELIVER'D mother,
Have woe to woe, sorrow to sorrow join'd.] So, in Pericles : "I am great with woe, and shall deliver weeping."
YORK. Should I do so, I should belie my thoughts':
Comfort's in heaven; and we are on the earth,
Enter a Servant.
SERV. My lord, your son was gone before I came. YORK. He was ?-Why, so!-go all which way it will!
The nobles they are fled, the commons they are cold,
And will, I fear, revolt on Hereford's side.
Sirrah, get thee to Plashy 9, to my sister Gloster; Bid her send me presently a thousand pound:Hold, take my ring.
SERV. My lord, I had forgot to tell your lordship:
To-day, as I came by, I called there ;-
SERV. An hour before I came, the duchess died. YORK. God for his mercy! what a tide of woes
7 Should I do so. I should belie my thoughts:] This line is found in the three eldest quartos, but is wanting in the folio.
STEEVENS. 8 The nobles they are fled, the commons cold,] The old copies, injuriously to the metre, read:
The nobles they are fled, the commons they are cold."
9 Get thee to PLASHY,] The lordship of Plashy, was a town of the dutchess of Gloster's in Essex. See Hall's Chronicle, p. 13. THEOBALD.