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PRINCE OF TYRE.
Before the Palace of ANTIOCH.
To sing a song of old was sung,2
To glad your ear, and please your eyes.
On ember-eves, and holy ales ;*
of old was sung,] I do not know that old is by any author used adverbially. We might read:
To sing a song of old was sung,
i. e. that of old &c.
But the poet is so licentious in the language which he has attributed to Gower in this piece, that I have not ventured to make any change. MALONE.
I have adopted Mr. Malone's emendation, which was evidently wanted. STEEVENS.
3 -Gower is come;] The defect of metre (sung and come being no rhymes) points out, in my opinion, that we should read:
From ashes ancient Gower's sprung;
alluding to the restoration of the Phoenix. STEevens.
It hath been sung at festivals,
On ember-eves, and holy-ales;] i. e. says Dr. Farmer, by
And lords and ladies of their lives 5
whom this emendation was made, church-ales. The old copy has-holy days. Gower's speeches were certainly intended to rhyme throughout. MALONE.
of their lives-] The old copies read-in their lives. The emendation was suggested by Dr. Farmer. MALONE.
• 'Purpose to make men glorious; &c.] Old copy:
The purchase is to make men glorious; &c. STEEVENS. There is an irregularity of metre in this couplet. The same variation is observable in Macbeth:
"I am for the air; this night I'll spend
"Upon a dismal and a fatal end."
The old copies read-The purchase &c. Mr. Steevens suggested this emendation. MALONE.
Being now convinced that all the irregular lines detected in The Midsummer-Night's Dream, Macbeth, and Pericles, have been prolonged by interpolations which afford no additional beauties, I am become more confident in my attempt to mend the passage before us. Throughout this play it should seem to be a very frequent practice of the reciter, or transcriber, to supply words which, for some foolish reason or other, were supposed to be wanting. Unskilled in the language of poetry, and more especially in that which was clouded by an affectation of antiquity, these ignorant people regarded many contractions and ellipses, as indications of somewhat accidentally omitted; and while they inserted only monosyllables or unimportant words in imaginary vacancies, they conceived themselves to be doing little mischief. Liberties of this kind must have been taken with the piece under consideration. The measure of it is too regular and harmonious in many places, for us to think it was utterly neglected in the rest. As this play will never be received as the entire composition of Shakspeare, and as violent disorders require medicines of proportionable violence, I have been by no means scrupulous in striving to reduce the metre to that exactness which I suppose it originally to have possessed. Of the same license I should not have availed myself, had I been employed on any of the undisputed dramas of our author. Those experiments which we are forbidden to perform on living subjects, may properly be attempted on dead ones, among which our Pericles may be reck
If you, born in these latter times,
oned; being dead, in its present form, to all purposes of the stage, and of no very promising life in the closet.
The purpose is to make men glorious,
Et bonum quo antiquius eo melius.] The original saying is— Bonum quo communius, eo melius.
As I suppose these lines, with their context, to have originally stood as follows, I have so given them:
And lords and ladies, of their lives
This innovation may seem to introduce obscurity; but in huddling words on each other, without their necessary articles and prepositions, the chief skill of our present imitator of antiquated rhyme appears to have consisted.
Again, old copy:
"This Antioch then, Antiochus the great
"Built up; this city, for his chiefest seat."
I suppose the original lines were these, and as such have printed
"This city then, Antioch the great
"Built up for his chiefest seat."
Another redundant line offers itself in the same chorus:
"Bad child, worse father! to entice his ownwhich I also give as I conceive it to have originally stood, thus: "Bad father! to entice his own
The words omitted are of little consequence, and the artificial comparison between the guilt of the parent and the child, has no resemblance to the simplicity of Gower's narratives. The lady's frailty is sufficiently stigmatized in the ensuing lines. See my further sentiments concerning the irregularities of Shakspeare's metre, in a note on The Tempest, Vol. IV. p. 72, n. 2; and again in Vol. X. 193, n. 1. STEEVENS.
for his chiefest seat;]
So, in Twine's translation:
The fairest in all Syria;
(I tell what mine authors say:8)
"The most famous and mighty King Antiochus, which builded the goodlie city of Antiochia in Syria, and called it after his owne name, as the chiefest seat of all his dominions."
(I tell you what mine authors say:)] This is added in imitation of Gower's manner, and that of Chaucer, Lydgate, &c. who often thus refer to the original of their tales.-These choruses resemble Gower in few other particulars. STEEVENS.
unto him took a pheere,] This word, which is frequently used by our old poets, signifies a mate or companion. The old copies have-peer. For the emendation I am answerable. Throughout this piece, the poet, though he has not closely copied the language of Gower's poem, has endeavoured to give his speeches somewhat of an antique air. MALONE.
See Vol. XXI. p. 86, n. 1. STEEvens.
full of face,] i. e. completely, exuberantly beautiful. A full fortune, in Othello, means a complete, a large one.
also Vol. XV. p. 397, n. 1. MALONE.
2 By custom, what they did begin,] All the copies read, unintelligibly,-But custom &c. MALONE.
account no sin.] Account for accounted. So, in King
John, waft for wafted:
Than now the English bottoms have waft o'er."
Again, in Gascoigne's Complaint of Philomene, 1575: "And by the lawde of his pretence
"His lewdness was acquit."
The old copies read account'd. For the correction I am answerable.
The beauty of this sinful dame
In marriage-pleasures play-fellow:
thither frame,] i. e. shape or direct their course thither.
(To keep her still, and men in awe,)] The meaning, I think, is not to keep her and men in awe, but to keep her still to himself, and to deter others from demanding her in marriage. MALONE.
Mr. Malone has properly interpreted this passage. So, in Twine's translation: " which false resemblance of hateful marriage, to the intent that he might alwaies enjoy, he invented &c. to drive away all suitors that should resort unto her, by propounding" &c. See also p. 176, n. 8. STEEVENs.
many a wight-] The quarto, 1609, reads—many of wight. Corrected in the folio. MALONE.
Perhaps the correction is erroneous, and we should read, nearer to the traces of the old
So for her many of might did die,. i. e. many men of might. Thus, afterwards:
"Yon sometime famous princes," &c.
The w in the quarto 1609, might be only an m reversed.
7 As yon grim looks do testify.] Gower must be supposed here to point to the heads of those unfortunate wights, which, he tells us, in his poem, were fixed on the gate of the palace at Antioch :
"The fader, whan he understood
"That thei his doughter thus besought,