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P. 16: The strangeness-] Why should a wonderful story produce sleep? I believe, experience will prove, that any violent agitation of the mind easily subsides in slumber, especially when, as in Prospero's relation, the last images are pleasing.
The poet seems to have been apprehensive that the audience, as well as Miranda, would sleep over this long but necessary tale, and therefore strives to break it. First, by making Prospero divest himself of his magic robe and wand: then by waking her attention no less than six times by verbal interruption then by varying the action when he rises and bids her continue sitting and lastly, by carrying on the business of the fable while Miranda sleeps, by which she is continued on the stage till the poet has occasion for her again.
P. 21. He's gentle, and not fearful.] "How have your commentators been puzzled by the following expression in The Tempest, 'He's gentle, and not fearful;' as if it was a paralogism to say that being gentle, he must of course be courageous but the truth is, one of the original meanings, if not the sole meaning, of that word was, noble, high minded: and to this day a Scotch woman in the situation of the young lady in The Tempest, would express herself nearly in the same terms. Don't provoke him; for being gentle, that is, high spirited, he won't tamely bear an insult."
Smollett's Humphrey Clinker, Vol. II. p. 182.
P. 28. Trebles thee o'er.] You must put on more than your usual seriousness, if you are disposed to pay a proper attention to my proposal; which attention if you bestow, it will in the end make you thrice what you are. STE.
Ibid. You more invest it!] A judicious critic in The Edinburgh Magazine for Nov. 1786, offers the following illustration of this obscure passage, "Sebastian introduces the simile of water. It is taken up by Antonio, who says he will teach his stagnant water to flow. '-It has already learned to ebb,' says Sebastian. To which Antonio replies, O if you knew how much even that metaphor, which you use in jest, encourages to the design which I hint at; how in stripping the words of their common meaning, and using them figuratively, you adapt them to your own situation !' "
P. 32. looks like a foul bumbard.] This term again occurs in The First Part of Henry IV: "that swoln parcel of dropsies, that huge bumbard of sack" And again, in Henry VIII. "And here you lie baiting of bombards, when ye
should do service." By these several passages, 'tis plain the word meant a large vessel for holding drink, as well as the piece of ordnance so called. THEO.
P. 33. his gaberdine ;] A gaberdine is properly the coarse frock or outward garment of a peasant. Spanish Gaberdina.
P. 33. if he have never drunk wine afore, it will go near to remove his fit:] This is no impertinent hint to those who indulge themselves in a constant use of wine. When it is necessary for them as a medicine, it produces no effect.
P. 33. I will not take too much for him.] Let me take what sum I will, however great, I shall not take too much for him : it is impossible for me to sell him too dear.
P. 34. to be the siege of this moon-calf?] Siege signifies stool in every sense of the word, and is here used in the dirtiest. A moon-calf is an inanimate shapeless mass, supposed by Pliny to be engendered of woman only. See his Nat. Hist. B. X. ch. 64. STE.
P. 36. Young sea-mells.] Sir Joseph Banks informs me, that in Willoughby's, or rather John Ray's Ornithology, p. 34, No. 3, is mentioned the common sea-mall, Larus cinereus minor; and that young sea-gulls have been esteemed a delicate food in this country, we learn from Plott, who, in his History of Staffordshire, p. 231, gives an account of the mode of taking a species of gulls called in that country pewits, with a plate annexed, at the end of which he writes, "they being accounted a good dish at the most plentiful tables." To this it may be added, that Sir Robert Sibbald in his Ancient State of the Shire of Fife, mentions amongst fowls which frequent a neighbouring island, several sort of sea-malls, and one in particular, the katiewake, a fowl of the Larus or mall kind, of the bigness of an ordinary pigeon, which some hold, says he, to be as savoury and as good meat as a partridge is. REED.
P. 40. Your lieutenant, if you list; he's no standard.] Meaning, he is so much intoxicated, as not to be able to stand. The quibble between standard, an ensign, and standard, a fruit-tree that grows without support, is evident.
P. 41. Where thou may'st knock a nail into his head.] Perhaps Shakspeare caught this idea from the 4th chapter of Judges, v. 21: "Then Jael, Heber's wife, took a nail of the tent, and took a hammer in her hand, and went softly unto
him, and smote the nail into his temples, &c. for he was fast asleep," &c.
P. 41. What a pied ninny's this?] It should be remembered that Trinculo is no sailor, but a jester; and is so called in the ancient dramatis personæ He therefore wears the party-coloured dress of one of these characters.
P. 44. Praise in departing.] i. e. Do not praise your entertainment too soon, lest you should have reason to retract your commendation. It is a proverbial saying. ST.
P. 45. Each putter-out, &c.] The ancient custom here alluded to was this. In this age of travelling, it was a practice with those who engaged in long and hazardous expeditions, to place out a sum of money on condition of receiving great interest for it at their return home. So Puntarvolo, (it is Theobald's quotation,) in Ben Jonson's Every Man out of his Humour: "I do intend,this year of jubilee coming on, to travel; and (because I will not altogether go upon expence) I am determined to put some five thousand pound, to be paid me five for one, upon the return of my wife, myself, and my dog, from the Turk's court in Constantinople.'
P. 47. a thread of mine own life.] “A thread of mine own life" is a fibre or a part of my own life. Prospero considers himself as the stock or parent-tree, and his daughter as a fibre or portion of himself, and for whose benefit he himself lives. In this sense the word is used in Markham's English Husbandman, edit. 1635, p. 146: "Cut off all the maine rootes, within half a foot of the tree, only the small thriddes or twist rootes you shall not cut at all." TOLLET.
P. 51. And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,] Faded means here-having vanished; from the Latin, vado. So, in Hamlet:
"It faded on the crowing of the cock."
To feel the justice of this comparison, and the propriety of the epithet, the nature of these exhibitions should be remembered. The ancient English pageants were shows exhibited on the reception of a prince, or any other solemnity of a similar kind. They were presented on occasional stages erected in the streets. Originally they appear to have been nothing more than dumb shows; but before the time of our author, they had been enlivened by the introduction of speaking per. sonages, who were characteristically habited. The speeches were sometimes in verse; and as the procession moved forward, the speakers, who constantly bore some allusion to the ceremony, either conversed together in the form of a dia10
logue, or addressed the noble person whose presence occasioned the celebrity. On these allegorical spectacles very costly ornaments were bestowed. See Fabian, II. 382. Warton's Hist. of Poet. II. 199, 202.
The well-known lines before us may receive some illustration from Stowe's account of the pageants exhibited in the year 1604, (not long before this play was written,) on King James, his Queen, &c. passing triumphantly from the Tower to Westminster; on which occasion seven gates or arches were erected in different places through which the procession passed. Over the first gate" was represented the true likeness of all the notable houses, TOWERS and steeples, within the citie of London.". "The sixt arch or gate of triumph was erected above the Conduit in Fleete-Streete, whereon the GLOBE of the world was seen to move, &c. At Templebar a seaventh arche or gate was erected, the fore-front whereof was proportioned in every respect like a TEMPLE, being dedicated to Janus, &c.-The citie of Westminster, and dutchy of Lancaster, at the Strand had erected the invention of a Rainbow, the moone, sunne, and starres, advanced between two Pyramides,” &c. ANNALS, p. 1429, edit. 1605.
P. 52. So his mind cankers :] Shakspeare, when he wrote this description, perhaps recollected what his patron's most intimate friend the great Lord Essex, in an hour of discontent said of Queen Elizabeth: "that she grew old and canker'd, and that her mind was become as crooked as her carcase : a speech, which, according to Sir Walter Raleigh, cost him his head, and which, we may therefore suppose, was at that time much talked of. This play being written in the time of King James, these obnoxious words might be safely repeated. MAL.
TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA.
P. 27. My staff understands me.] This equivocation, miserable as it is, has been admitted by Milton in his great poem, B. VI:
-The terms we sent were terins of weight,
P. 50. with a cod-piece, &c.] Whoever wishes to be ac quainted with this particular, relative to dress, may consult
Bulwer's Artificial Changeling, in which such matters are very amply discussed. It is mentioned, however, in Tyro's Roaring Megge, 1598.
"Tyro's round breeches have a cliffe behind;
"Which for a pin-case antique plowmen wore."
Ocular instruction may be had from the armour shown as John of Gaunt's in the Tower of London. The same fashion appears to have been no less offensive in France. See Montaigne, Chap. XXII. The custom of sticking pins in this ostentatious piece of indecency was continued by the illiberal warders of the Tower, till forbidden by authority.
P. 38. for she hath had gossips :] Gossips not only signify those who answer for a child in baptism, but the tattling women who attend lyings-in. The quibble between these is evident.
P. 56. I'll get me such a colour'd periwig.] It should bet remembered, that false hair was worn by the ladies, long before wigs were in fashion. These false coverings, however,
were called periwigs.
See Much Ado about Nothing, Act II. sc. iii: "—and her hair shall be of what colour it please God." And The Merchant of Venice, Act III. sc. ii:
"So are crisped, snaky golden locks," &c.
Again, in The Honestie of this Age, proving by good Circumstance that the World was never honest till now, by Barnabe Rich, quarto, 1615; "My lady holdeth on her way, perhaps to the tire-maker's shop, where she shaketh her crownes, to bestowe upon some new-fashioned attire ;-upon such artificial deformed periwigs, that they were fitter to furnish a theatre, or for her that in a stage play should represent some hag of hell, than to be used by a Christian woman." Again, ibid. "These attire-makers within these forty years were not known by that name; and but now very lately they kept their lowzie commodity of periwigs, and their monstrous attires, closed in boxes,-and those women that used to weare them would not buy them but in secret. But now they are not ashamed to set them forth upon their stalls, such monstrous mop-powles of hair, so proportioned and deformed, that but within these twenty or thirty years would have drawne the passers-by to stand and gaze, and to wonder at them."