Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

“Fio. 'Tis poetical. OLI. It is the more likely to be frignad." -det I, Scene 5

“The truest poetry is the most feigning," observes the philosophie Touchstone. (" AS YOU LIX3 ET," act fit., scene 3.)

Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale ?"-Act II., Scene 3.

It was the custom, on saints' days and other holidays, to eat ginger cakes and quaff ale, in their honour; and Malvolio, sometimes affecting to be, as Maria says, “a kind of Puritan," may be supposed to have censured this very laudable and Catholic practice.

“Rub your chain with crums."—Act II., Scene 3. Stewards in great houses formerly wore a chain round their necks, as a badge of their office; the mode of cleaning this was the rubbing it with crumbs.

" Lady! you are the cruellest site alise,

If you will lead these graces to the grave,
And leave the roorld no copy."-Act I, Scene 5.

The thought expressed in these lines, runs through the first seventeen of the great poet's exquisite sonnets.

I am no feed post, lady.”-da I., Scene 5. “ I am no paid messenger."

« Good night, Penthesilea I"_Act II., Scene 3. Penthesiles was a celebrated queen of the Amazons, politely slain, in single combat, by Achilles.

"Ourselta toe do not once." -Act I, Scene 5.

To owe, here, and frequently in the text of our poet, as in that of his great contemporaries, signifies to oren, to possess, as well as to be indebted to.

"If thou hast her not in the end, call me Cut."

Act II., Scene 3. Cut (a docked, or curtail horse) is a low slang term of contempt, very commonly used by the old dramatic writers. So, in the curious old comedy of “GAMYBR GURTOX's WEEDLE" (act iii., scene S), “Thou slut! thou cut!" (Explanations of a great number of cant and obsolete words and phrases used in this play will be found in the Glossary.)

“ Diluculo surgere, thou knoro'st."-Act II., Scene 3.

Diluculo surgere saluberrimum est : « T is healthiest to rise early." This well-known adage Shakspere found in Lily's grammar; and there are few schoolboys who will not now recognise it as a familiar of that of the Eton.

“She sat like patience on a monument,

Smiling at grief."-Act II., Scene 4. This celebrated passage is equalled, if not surpassed, in beauty, by a very similar one in “PERICLES” (act v., scene 1)

“Thou dost look
Like Patience gazing on kings' graves, and smiling
Extremity out of act."

Did you never see the picture of we three?"

Act II., Scene 3.

An allusion to an old print, formerly a favourite ornament of the room-walls of country alehouses : it represented troo only; but, underneath, the rustic connoisseur read this complimentary inscription, “We three are asses;" or the more refined and metrical one

" We three

Loggerheads be."

“ The lady of the strachy married the yeoman of the wardrobe."-Act II., Scene 5.

It is conjectured with much plausibility, by Mr. R. P. Knight, that the term strachy (which has given rise to many interpretations) is a corruption of “Stratice," a title anciently given to the Governor of Messina, from which IVyria is not far distant. If so, the allusion is to the governor's lady, or widow. The word Strachy is printed with a capital letter and in italics in the first folio.

The fool has an excellent breast." _Act II., Scene 3.

0, for a stone-bon, to hit him in the eye !"-Act II., Scene 5.

An excellent natural, or breast-voice; voce-di-petto. Brenst is a term very commonly used by the old writers for voice, or breath. In the oldest of our extant regular English comedies, the "RALPH ROYSTER DoYSTBR" of Nicholas Udall, which was produced as early as about the year 1580, is the phrase of “A breast to blow out a candle :" (act l., scene 2.)

A stone-bow was a cross-bow, from which stones were sometimes shot; but we have heard it insisted upon that this passage should be read thus: “0, for a stone, now, to hit him in the eye !"

[blocks in formation]

"Enter Clown, with a tabor."-Act III., Scene 1.

"Tarleton, the celebrated fool or clown of the stage before Shakspere's time, is exhibited in a print affixed to his jests (1611) with a tabor. Perhaps," says Malone, “in imitation of him, the subsequent dramatic clowns usually appeared with one."

A enter (from the French coudre, to sew, or stitch) is #ter, or botcher of any kind; but a reverend commenis , of the name of Prancis Peck, thinks that the phrase may bly allude to certain old Irish Festivities, called Catherings, which are thus amusingly described in a pamMet, published in 1924, entitled " A New Inox PROGNOSTI6.198, 9 PovisCALENDAR, describing the disposition, ban of the Irish :"_"A good company of men and women ng draws wether, feasting, between the meales their

Bad barpers entertain them with songs, chiefly in

9 of theft, murder, rebellion, treason, invented

Mir wp their hearts to imitate their ancestors; tition bow many cows they had stolen, how

they had committed, and the like."

“A sentence is but a cheveril glove to a good reit."

Act III., Scene 1.

A cheveril glove is a kid-glove; caprillus being the Latin, ciaverello the Italian, and chevereul the French word for a kid. “Cheverel consciences" is an expressive phrase of Decker, in his “ OLD FORTUNATUS."

" I had as lief be a Brownist as a politician."

Act III., Scene 2. The Brownists were an innovating, religious sect, in the reign of Elizabeth, which sect subsequently merged into that of the Independents. Their founder was Robert Brown, whose family was nearly allied to that of the Lord Treasurer Cecil. His career of opposition to the established church commenced in 1510; but he returned to its communion some time previously to his death. After a life of licentious turbulence, he died in 1630, in Northampton gaol, to which he had been committed for two very orthodox offencesassaulting a magistrate, and insulting a constable.

* Bonos Dies, Sir Toby: for as the old hermit of Prague," &c.

Act IV., Scene 2. In this speech of the Clown is probably intended "a fing" at the jargon of the schools, once so prevalent, in such phrases as “Whatsoever is, is ;" and, " It is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be;" &c. The old hermit of Prague was, doubtless, a very admirable logician in his time, and family-physician to King Gorboduc.

"Nay, I am for all waters."—Act IV., Scene 2. The old dictionaries define the term water, applied to gems, as "a certain lustre of pearls, diamonds, and other precious stones." This will sufficiently explain the Clown's play of words upon the chaplain's name.

Al the cubiculo."-Act III., Scene 2. That is, at the lodging-house.

"The youngest wren of nine."—Act III., Scene 2. The smallest and sprightliest bird of the brood.

"He does smile his face into more lines than are in the new map, with the augmentation of the Indies."—Act III., Scene 2.

An allusion to a map published in 1598, with a translation of " JOHN HUGH VAN LINSCHOTEN's VOYAGES TO THE East Indies." This map is remarkable for its many-lined appearance.

Like to the old vice," &c.-Act IV., Scene 2. The vice, in the old church-plays, called “MYSTERIES," and "MORALITIES," was as regularly introduced a personage as is the harlequin in our modern pantomimes. The devil, also, was another of their prominent heroes; and the belabouring of this latter worthy by the vice, with his "dagger of lath," afforded as much amusement to the audiences of the time, as to our Christmas holiday-makers do the magic thumps of harlequin's wand upon the backs of clown and pantaloon.

"Why dost thou smile so, and kiss thy hand so oft ?"

Act III., Scene 4. This fantastical custom is taken notice of by Barnaby Rice, in "FAULTS, AND NOTHING BUT FAULTS" (1606) :"And these · Flowers of Courtesie,' as they are full of affectation, so are they no less formal in their speeches, full of fustian phrases, many times delivering such sentences as do betray and lay open their masters' ignorance: and they are so frequent with the kisse on the hand,' that word shall not passe their mouths, till they have clapt their fingers over their lippes."

Like to the Egyptian thief," &c.-Act V., Scene 1.

An allusion to an affecting story in the Ethiopics of Heliodorus, the famous sophist, of which an English version, by Thomas Underdowne, appeared in 1587. Thyamis, a native of Memphis, and captain of a band of robbers, being deeply enamoured of a lady named Chariclea, who had fallen into his hands, and being surprised by a company of banditti, stronger than his own, caught her by her tresses with his left hand, and with his right plunged his sword into her heart, to prevent her becoming their victim after his inevitable death.

"We will bring the device to the bar, and crown thee for a finder of madmen."--Act III., Scene 4.

Juries sitting in inquest upon cases of lunacy were formerly called "finders of madmen."

He is knight, dubbed with unhacked rapier, and on car. pel consideration."-Act III., Scene 4.

He is a carpet-knight; not dubbed in the field, after a bloody fight, but on a carpet, after a festivity, and with sword unhacked in any battle.

"A passy-measure pavin."-Act V., Scene 1. The names of grave pedantic dances of the time. The pavin (paven, or pavan), so called from the Latin pavo, a peacock, was of Spanish origin, and was performed by gentlemen dressed with cap and sword, by the long-robed gentry in their gowns, by princes in their mantles, and by ladies in gowns with long trains; "the motion whereof, in the dance," says Sir John Hawkins, "resembled that of a peacock's tail."

"Empty trunks, o'erflourished by the devil."

Act III., Scene 4. Trunks, which are now furniture for the bed, dressing, or lumber-chamber, were, in Shakspere's time, appertainments to parlours, and other company-rooms; were mounted upon feet, and richly ornamented on the top, at the ends, and along the sides, with scroll work, and emblematical devices of all kipds.

It appears from Mr. Collier's "ANNALS OF THE STAGE," that, in 1828, among the Harleian MSS., a manuscript diary of a student of the Middle Temple was found, in which the following interesting passage occurs, in reference to this beautiful drama :

" Feb. 2, 1601. "At our feast we had a play called Twelve night or what you will, much like the comedy of errors, or Menechmis in Plautus, but most like and neere to that in Italian called Juganni. A good practise in it to make the steward believe his widdowe was in love with him, by counterfayting a letter,

as from his lady, in general termes, telling him what shee | liked best in him, and prescribing his gestures, inscribing

his apparaile, &c., and then when he came to practise, making him beleeve they tooke him to be mad."

"I pr'y thee, foolish Greek," &c.--Act IV., Scene 1. Greek, was as much as to say pander. He understood the Clown to be acting in that office. A brothel was called Corinth, and the frequenters of it Corinthians, which words occur frequently in Shakspere, especially in "Timon Op ATHENS" and "HENRY IV."

"Get themselves a good report after fourteen years' purchase."-Act IV., Seene I.

" This," says Warburton, "seems to carry a piece of satire upon monopolies, the crying grievance of that time. The grants generally were for fourteen years; and the petitions being referred to a committee, it was suspected that money gained favourable reports from thence."

Mr. Hazlitt, in his remarks on " TWELFTH NIGut," thus briefly and felicitously characterises a few of its poetic beauties :

“We have a friendship for Sir Toby; we patronise Sir Andrew; we have an understanding with the Clown; a sneaking kindness for Maria and her rogueries; we feel a regard for Malvolio, and sympathy with his gravity, his

smiles, his cross-garters, his yellow stockings, and his impri service. Her attention and diligence speedily recommended sonment in the stocks. But there is something that excites her to the notice of her master, and of all his servants she in us a stronger feeling than all this ;—it is Viola's confession was first in his confidence and love. of her love :

"There was resident in Constantinople a widow named "DUKE. And what's her history!

Julina, famous for wealth and beauty, to whom Apolonius VIOLA. A blank, my lord: she never told her love, endeavoured, in vain, to make himself acceptable. Silvio But let concealment, like a worm i' the bud,

was the bearer of his tokens of affection, and, altogether Peed on her damask cheek; she pined in thought ,

desirous to please her master, pressed his suit with earnestAnd, with a green and yellow melancholy,

ness. Though cold to Apolonius, the lady was not insensible She sat like Patience on a monument,

to the charms of grace and beauty; and she became deeply Smiling at grief. Was not this love indeed ?

entangled in love with the page, as her master was with We men may say more, swear more: but indeed

herself. 'Silvio,' said Julina, interrupting him in a mesOur shows are more than will; for still we prove

sage from his master, it is enough that you have said in Much in our vows, but little in our love.

behalf of another; henceforth speak only for yourself, or be Duke. But died thy sister of her love, my boy?

for ever silent.' VIOLA. I am all the daughters of my father's house,

"The clandestine flight of Silla from her father's court And all the brothers too ;-and yet I know not.'

was ascribed to her seduction by Pedro, who accompanied

her; and her brother vowed never to discontinue his pursuit “Shakspere alone could describe the effect of his own

of the fugitives till he had found and punished the betrayer poetry

of his sister's honour. He traversed many countries without “O, it came o'er my ear like the sweet south,

success, and at length reached Constantinople. He had That breathes upon a bank of violets,

been there but few days, when Julina met and accosted him Stealing and giving odour.”

as the page of Apolonius; for so strong was the resemblance “What we so much admire here is not the image of Pa

of Silvio and Silla, that it was impossible for strangers to

distinguish them. tlence on a monument, which has been so generally quoted, but the lines before and after it. "They give a very echo to

“The curiosity of Silvio was awakened at being thus the seat where love is throned.' How long ago it is since

familiarly addressed; and perceiving, by the splendour of we first learned to repeat them; and still they vibrate on the

Julina's train, that she was no less wealthy than beautiful, heart like the sounds which the passing wind draws from the

he answered her with courtesy, and joyfully accepted an trembling strings of a harp left on some desert shore !

invitation to supper on the following evening. He went"There are other passages of not less impassioned sweet

he loved; and Julina did not suffer him to languish in ness. Such is Olivia's address to Sebastian, whom she

despair. Reflecting on what had passed, Silvio clearly persupposed to have already deceived her in a promise of

ceived that he had been mistaken for some other person: marriage :

apprehensive, therefore, that Julina's discovery of her error "Blame not this haste of mine :

might plunge him into difficulty, he determined to quit Constantinople, and resume his journey in search of Silla.

“When the duke again preferred his suit to Julina, she Plight me the full assurance of your faith;

silenced his importunity by the reply that she had transThat my most jealous and too doubtful soul

ferred her power to another; and it quickly reached the ears May live at peace.

of Apolonius that he was rejected in favour of his page, on “ After reading other parts of this play, and particularly

whom the most profuse and lavished favours were bestowed. the garden scene where Malvolio picks up the letter, if we

Piqued and enraged, he cast the supposed offender into were to say that Shakspere's genius for comedy was less than

prison, in spite of his most vehement protestations of inhis genius for tragedy, it would perhaps only prove that our nocence. own taste in such matters is more saturnine than mercurial." "Julina found it necessary to take some active steps for

the preservation of her fame; and she accordingly resolved

to wait upon the duke, and claim Silvio as her husband. In his valuable researches concerning the plots of Shak

Apolonius could not but believe his page to be the most spere, Mr. Skottowe gives the following interesting outline

despicable of hypocrites, and was confirmed in his opinion of the tale of Apolonius and Silla, from Rich's "FAREWELL,"

by the perseverance of Silvio in asseverations of his guiltreferred to in the Introductory Remarks to this play:

lessness, even when assured by Julina herself of protection, "It was the misfortune of Duke Apolonius to be wrecked and conjured, by every motive of honour and of gratitude, to on the Isle of Cyprus on his return to Constantinople, from declare the truth, and rescue her reputation from destruction. a cruise against the Infidels. He was succoured and hospi

"Moved by compassion for a lady he had long tenderly tably entertained by Pontus, the duke and governor, whose

loved, and disgusted to the last degree with, what he imadaughter Silla became deeply enamoured of the young and gined, the unparalleled effrontery and villainy of his page, handsome guest. But wholly engrossed by the desire of the duke solemnly swore to put Silvio to death upon the returning to his native city, Apolonius was insensible to such

spot, without he made honourable reparation to Julina. It advances as the modesty of Silla permitted her to make, and being no longer possible to dissemble, Silla solicited a private be departed ignorant of her attachment.

interview with her accuser; and on that occasion revealed "The difficulties in the way of its gratification inflamed her sex, and told her tale. the love of Silla, and, trusting herself to the protection of a

" When Apolonius was informed of these circumstances, faithful servant, she stole from her father's court in pursuit he instantly recognised the daughter of his benefactor, the of Apolonius. The vessel in which she embarked was Governor of Cyprus; and, struck with admiration at love and wrecked; Pedro, her servant, was drowned, and she herself disinterestedness so unequivocal, immediately directed the barely escaped with life on a chest belonging to the captain. commencement of preparations for the solemnisation of his The chest was rich in apparel and in coin: she disguised nuptials with her. The fame of events so extraordinary herself as a man, assumed the name of her brother, Silvio, was bruited through every corner of the country; and it po prosecuted her journey, and arrived safe at Constantinople. sooner came to the knowledge of Silvio than he compreShe directed her steps to the palace of Apolonius, offered hended the whole affair, and hastened back to Constantiherself to him as a page, and was readily received into his | nople. His marriage with Julina concludes the tale."

[ocr errors]

PERSONS REPRESENTED.
VINCENTIO, DUKE OF VIExxa.
ANGELO, Lord Deputy, in the Duke's absence.
ESCALUS, an ancient Lord, joined with Angelo in

the deputation.
CLAUDIO, a young Gentleman.
LUCIO, a Fantastic.
Two other like Gentlemen.
VARRIUS, a Gentleman, Servant to the Duke.
Provost.
THOMAS,

Two Friars.
PETER, s
A Justice.
ELBOW, a simple Constable.
FROTH, a foolish Gentleman.
Clown, Servant to Mrs. OVERDONE.
ABHORSON, an Executioner
BARNARDINE, a dissolute Prisoner
ISABELLA, Sister to CLAUDIO.
MARIANA, betrothed to ANGELO.
JULIET, beloved by CLAUDIO.
FRANCISCA, a Nun.
MISTRESS OVERDONE, a Bawd.
Lords, Gentlemen, Guards, Officers, and

other Attendants.

[ocr errors][merged small]
[graphic]

HIS is a play is with coe of the main features of contentional morality is

treated in a very extraordinary manner, being equally enforced and set at defiance: sometimes regarded, even to a vindictive and sanguinary degree, as the parest code of conduct; and in the next scene, either by sentiments or actions, ridicaled and atteriy dismissed with characteristie impartiality. The philosophy of Skatspere is always upon the broadest scale; and in that universality of view, each man may find his own likeness, and the world its lasting lessons. The principle and plot of the play, taken as a whole, are very fine: its parts are, however, unequal, defective, and in some scenes as trivial and offensive as they are unnecessary. To speak in general terms, the only really objectionable things in Shakspere are those which have nothing to do with his subject “MEASURE FOR MEASURE" is also a good illustration, in other respects, of his mode of composition. He enforces no particular theories or opinions; but, with intense dramatic truth, makes all his characters individually think and act for themselves. They give their

own justifications-good, bad, and indifferent-for their conduct; and according to the understanding, and the natural and acquired moral standard of the reader, so do they become the objects of sympathy or antipathy, of aversion or admiration, or of mixed feelings in which the abstract intellect and imagination exercise their speculations, and thus, perhaps, add to knowledge, and extend the bounds of mental experience.

Dr. Johnson's estimate of “MEASURE FOR MEASURE" does not tend to enhance our admiration of the play, nor of his critical judgment. “Of this play,” says he, "the light or comic part is very natural and pleasing; but the grave scenes, if a few passages be excepted, have more labour than elegance." Giving the elegance or inelegance (a mere matter of style and externals) its due weight only in the question, most readers will be apt to consider the comic part as sometimes very heavy, and always rather idle and supererogatory, however natural ; while most of the serious scenes have long been felt to be admirable in spirit and masterly in execution, both as wholes, and in the many noble passages they contain.

The story of “ MEASURE FOR MEASURE," and a portion of the construction of the plot for acting, were probably taken directly from a comedy by George Whetstone, entitled “The Right EXCELLENT AND Famous HISTORIE OF PROMOS AND CASSANDRA,” of which a black-letter edition was printed in 1578. The same story was also published by Whetstone in his “HEPTAMERON" (1582). The origin of the main incidents will be found in an old Italian novel, by Cintio Giraldi, of which no translations, it is said, were extant in Shakspere's time. The crime of Angelo, in “MEASURE FOR MEASURE," has many historical parallels, which the curious reader may find in an anecdote of Charles the Bold, who punished a noble with death for a similar offence, as related by Lipsius (on which story a French tragedy was written); in the conduct of Olivier le Dain, described in “ THE MEMOIRS OF PHILIP DE COMines;" in the story of Colonel Kirke, as told by Hume; and in the story of Don Garcias, related in “ Cooke's VINDICATION OF THE PROFESSORS AND PROFESSION OF THE LAW” (1646). A similar anecdote also occurs in Lupton, and in the writings of Belleforest. But the chief, if not the only source from which Shakspere derived the raw materials of “MEASURE FOR MEASURE," seems really to have been the above-mentioned comedy of Whetstone. In this old play, he found enough to save himself much trouble; and to its crude management, after altering various details with the finest judgment, he communicated that spiritual force and reality by which he always so far excels and outshines his models, that it becomes difficult to distinguish their dull outlines amidst his dazzling fulness. “MEASURE FOR MEASURE" is considered by the most recondite authorities to have been written in 1603 or 1604.

R. H. H.

« ElőzőTovább »