« PreviousContinue »
And ne'er prefer his injuries to his heart,
If wrongs be evils, and enforce us kill,
Alcib. My lord,
You cannot make gross sins look clear; To revenge is no valour, but to bear.
Alcib. My lords, then, under favour, pardon me,
Why do fond men expose themselves to battle,
5 threatnings?] Old copy-threats. This slight, but judicious change, is Sir Thomas Hanmer's. In the next line but one, he also added, for the sake of metre,—but -. Steevens.
what make we
Abroad?] What do we, or what have we to do in the field.
7 And th' ass, more captain than the lion; &c.] Here is another arbitrary regulation, [the omission of—captain] the original reads
•what make we
Abroad? why then, women are more valiant
And the ass, more captain than the lion,
The fellow, loaden with irons, wiser than the judge,
I think it may be better adjusted thus:
what make we
Abroad? why then the women are more valiant
If bearing carry it, then is the ass
More captain than the lion; and the felon
if bearing carry it;]Dr. Johnson, when he proposed to connect this hemistich with the following line instead of the preceding words, seems to have forgot one of our author's favourite propensities I have no doubt that the present arrangement is right.
Mr. Pope, who rejected whatever he did not like, omitted the words-more captain. They are supported by what Alcibiades has already said:
Loaden with irons, wiser than the judge,
But who is man, that is not angry?
"My lords, then, under favour, pardon me,
and by Shakspeare's 66th Sonnet, where the word captain is used
"Like stones of worth they thinly placed are,
Dr. Johnson with great probability proposes to read felon instead of fellow. Malone.
The word captain has been very injudiciously restored. That it cannot be the author's is evident from its spoiling what will otherwise be a metrical line. Nor is his using it elsewhere any proof that he meant to use it here. Ritson.
I have not scrupled to insert Dr. Johnson's emendation, felon, for fellow, in the text; but do not perceive how the line can become strictly metrical by the omission of the word-captain, unless, with Sir Thomas Hanmer, we transpose the conjunctionand, and read:
The ass more than the lion, and the felon,
Steevens. sin's extremest gust; Gust, for aggravation. Warburton. Gust is here in its common sense; the utmost degree of appetite for sin Johnson.
I believe gust means rashness The allusion may be to a sudden gust of wind. Steevens.
So we say, it was done in a sudden gust of passion. Malone.
9 by mercy, 'tis most just.] By mercy is meant equity. But we must read:
'tis made just. Warburton.
Mercy is not put for equity If such explanation be allowed, what can be difficult? The meaning is, I call mercy herself to witness, that defensive violence is just. Johnson.
The meaning, I think, is, Homicide in our own defence, by a merciful and lenient interpretation of the laws, is considered as justifiable. Malone.
Dr Johnson's explanation is the more spirited; but a passage in King John should seem to countenance that of Mr. Malone: "Some sins do bear their privilege on earth,
"And so doth yours
Weigh but the crime with this. 2 Sen. You breathe in vain. Alcib.
In vain? his service done
At Lacedæmon, and Byzantium,
1 Sen. What 's that?
Why, I say,1 my lords, h' as done
And slain in fight many of your enemies:
2 Sen. He has made too much plenty with 'em,2 he Is a sworn rioter :3 h' as a sin that often
Drowns him, and takes his valour prisoner: "If there were no foes, that were enough alone” To overcome him: in that beastly fury He has been known to commit outrages, And cherish factions: 'Tis inferr'd to us, His days are foul, and his drink dangerous. 1 Sen. He dies.
1Why, I say,] The personal pronoun was inserted by the editor of the second folio. Malone.
with 'em,] The folio-with him. Johnson.
The correction was made by the editor of the second folio.
Malone. 3 Is a sworn rioter:] A sworn rioter is a man who practises riot, as if he had by an oath made it his duty. Johnson.
The expression, a sworn rioter, seems to be similar to that of sworn brothers. See Vol. IX, p. 235, n. 8. Malone.
4- alone —] This word was judiciously supplied by Sir Thomas Hanmer, to complete the measure. Thus, in All's Well that Ends Well:
5- your reverend ages love
Security, I'll pawn &c.] He charges them obliquely with being usurers. Johnson.
Were there no foes, that were itself enough. ms. 1833
Good alone 39 Steevens.
My honour to you, upon his good returns.
1 Sen. We are for law, he dies; urge it no more, On height of our displeasure :. Friend, or brother, He forfeits his own blood, that spills another.
Alcib. Must it be so? it must not be. My lords, I do beseech you, know me.
2 Sen. How?
Alcib. Call me to your remembrances." 3 Sen.
Alcib. I cannot think, but your age has forgot me;
Banish your dotage; banish usury,
1 Sen. If, after two days' shine, Athens contain thee, Attend our weightier judgment. And, not to swell our spirit,9
"That makes the senate ugly." Malone.
remembrances.] is here used as a word of five syllables. In the singular number it occurs as a quadrisyllable only. See Twelfth Night, Act I, sc. i:
"And lasting in her sad remembrance." Steevens.
I should prove so base,] Base for dishonoured. Warburton. 8 Do you dare our anger?
'Tis in few words, but spacious in effect;] This reading may pass, but perhaps the author wrote:
'Tis few in words, but spacious in effect. Johnson.
9 And, not to swell our spirit,] I believe, means, not to put ourselves into any tumour of rage, take our definitive resolution. So, in King Henry VIII, Act III, sc. i:
"The hearts of princes kiss obedience,
"So much they love it; but, to stubborn spirits,
They swell and grow as terrible as storms." Steevens
He shall be executed presently. [Exeunt Senators. Alcib. Now the gods keep you old enough; that you may live
Only in bone, that none may look on you!
1- -ha! banishment?] Thus the second folio. Its ever-blundering predecessor omits the interjection, ha! and consequently spoils the metre.-The same exclamation occurs in Romeo and Juliet:
"Ha! banishment? be merciful, say—death
and lay for hearts.
'Tis honour, with most lands to be at odds;] But surely even in a soldier's sense of honour, there is very little in being at odds with all about him; which shows rather a quarrelsome disposition than a valiant one. Besides, this was not Alcibiades's case. He was only fallen out with the Athenians. A phrase in the foregoing line will direct us to the right reading. I will lay, says he, for hearts; which is a metaphor taken from card-play, and signifies to game deep and boldly. It is plain then the figure was continued in the following line, which should be read thus:
'Tis honour with most hands to be at odds;
i.e. to fight upon odds, or at disadvantage; as he must do against the united strength of Athens; and this, by soldiers, is accounted honourable. Shakspeare uses the same metaphor on the same occasion, in Coriolanus:
"He lurch'd all swords." Warburton.
I think hands is very properly substituted for lands. In the foregoing line, for, lay for hearts, I would read, play for hearts.
Johnson. I do not conceive that to lay for hearts is a metaphor taken from card-play, or that lay should be changed into play. We should now say, to lay out for hearts, i. e. the affections of the people; but lay is used singly, as it is here, by Jonson, in The Devil is an Ass, [Mr. Whalley's edition] Vol. IV, p. 33:
"Lay for some pretty principality."