Page images

Whose procreation, residence, and birth,
Scarce is dividant,-touch them with several fortunes;
The greater scorns the lesser: Not nature,
To whom all sores lay siege, can bear great fortune,
But by contempt of nature.5
Raise me this beggar, and "denude that lord ;6 decline


Not nature,
To whom all sores lay siege, can bear great fortune,

But by contempt of nature.] The meaning I take to be this: Brother, when his fortune is enlarged, will scorn brother; for this is the general depravity of human nature, which, besieged as it is by misery, admonished as it is of want and imperfection, when elevated by fortune, will despise beings of nature like its own. Johnson.

Mr. M. Mason observes, that this passage “but by the addi. tion of a single letter may be rendered clearly intelligible; by merely reading natures instead of nature.” The meaning will then be—“Not even beings reduced to the utmost extremity of wretch. edness, can bear good fortune, without contemning their fellowcreatures." _The word natures is afterwards used in a similar sense by Apemantus:

Call the creatures
" Whose naked natures live in all the spite

"Of wreakful beaven," &o. Perhaps, in the present instance, we ought to complete the moa. sure by reading :

not those natures, Steevens. But by is here used for without. Malone.

6 Raise me this beggar, and denude that lord;] [Old copy-deny't that lord.) Where is the sense and English of deny't that lord? Deny him what? What preceding noun is there to which the pronoun it is to be referred? And it would be absurd to think the poet meant, deny to raise that lord. The antithesis must be, let fortune raise this beggar, and let her strip and despoil that lord of all his pomp and ornaments, &c. which sense is completed by this slight alteration:

and denude that lord; So, Lord Rea, in his relation of M. Hamilton's plot, written in 1650 : “ All these Hamiltons had denuded themselves of their fortunes and estates.” And Charles the First, in his message to the parliament says: “ Denude ourselves of all."-Clar. Vol. III, p. 15, octavo edit. Warburton.

So, as Theobald has observed, in our author's Venus and Ado.

nis :

“ Pluck down the rich, enrich the poor with treasures.”

Malone. Perhaps the former reading, however irregular, is the true one. Raise me that beggar, and deny a proportionable degree of ele. vation to that lord. A lord is not so bigh a title in the state, but

The senator shall bear contempt hereditary,
The beggar native honour.
It is the pasture lards the"brother's sides,? rother's

that a man originally poor might be raised to one above it. We might read devest that lord. Devest is an English law phrase, which Shakspeare uses in King Lear:

“Since now we will devest us both of rule,” &c. The word which Dr. Warburton would introduce, is not, however, uncommon. I find it in The Tragedie of Cresus, 1604:

“As one of all happiness denuded.Steevens. 7 It is the pasture lards the brother's sides,] This, as the editors have ordered it, is an idle repetition at the best; supposing it did, indeed, contain the same sentiment as the foregoing lines. Blit Shakspeare meant quite a different thing: and having, like a sensible writer, made a smart observation, he illustrates it by a similitude thus:

It is the pasture lards the wether's sides,

The want that makes him lean. And the similitude is extremely beautiful, as conveying this sati. rical reflection; there is no more difference between man and man in the esteem of superficial and corrupt judgments, than between a fat sheep and a lean one. Warburtor.

This passage is very obscure, nor do I discover any clear sense, even though we should admit the emendation. Let us inspect the text as it stands in the original edition:

It is the pastour lards the brother's sides,

The want that makes him leave:
Dr. Warburton found the passage already changed thus:

It is the pasture lards the beggar's sides,

The want that makes him lean. And upon this reading of no authority, raised another equally un; certain.

Alterations are never to be made without necessity. Let us see what sense the genuine reading will afford. Poverty, says the poet, bears contempt hereditary, and wealth native honour. To illustrate this position, having already mentioned the case of a poor and rich brother, he remarks, that this preference is given to wealth by those whom it least beconies; it is the pastour that greases or flatters the rich brother, and will grease him on till want make him leave. The poet then goes on to ask, Who dares to say this man, this pastour is a flatterer; the crime is universal, through all the world the learned pate, with allusion to the pastour, ducks to the golden fool If it be objected, as it may justly be, that the mention of a pastour is unsuitable, we must remember the mention of grace and cherubims in this play, and many such anachronisms in many others. I wouli therefore read thus :

It is the pastour lards the brother's sides,

'Tis want that makes him leave. The obscurity is still great. Perhaps a line is lost. I have at least given the original reading. Fohnson.

The want that makes him lean. Who dares, who dares,

Perhaps Shakspeare wrote pasterer, for I meet with such a word in Greene's Farewell to Follie, 1617: “ Alexander, before he fell into the Persian delicacies, refused those cooks and pasterers that Ada queen of Caria sent to him.” There is likewise a proverb among Ray's Collection, which seems to afford much the same meaning as this passage in Shakspeare: -" Every one basteth the fat hog, while the lean one burneth.” Again, in. Troilus and Cressida, Act II:

“ That were to enlard his fat-already pride.” Steevens. In this very difficult passage, which still remains obscure, some liberty may be indulged. Dr. Farmer proposes to read it thus:

It is the pasterer lards the broader sides,

The gaunt that makes him leave. And in support of this conjecture, he observes, that the Saxon d is frequently converted into th, as in murther, murder, burthen, burden, &c. Reed.

That the passage is corrupt as it stands in the old copy, no one, I suppose, can doubt; emendation therefore in this and a few other places, is not a matter of choice but necessity. I have al. ready more than once observed, that many corruptions have crept into the old copy, by the transcriber's ear deceiving him. In Coriolanus we have higher, for hire, and hope for holp; in the present play reverends for reverends't; and in almost every play similar corruptions. In King Richard II, quarto, 1598, we find the very er. ror that happened here:

- and bedew “ Her pastor's grass with faithful English blood.” Again, in As you Like it, folio, 1623, we find, “ I have heard him. read many lectors against it;" instead of lectures.

Pasture, when the u is sounded thin, and pastor, are scarcely distinguishable.

Thus, as I conceive, the true reading of the first disputed word of this contested passage is ascertained. In As you Like it we have "good pasture makes fat sheep.” Again, in the same play:

" Anon, a careless herd,

“ Full of the pasture, jumps along by him,” &c. The meaning then of the passage is --- It is the land alone which each man possesses that makes him rich, and proud, and flatter. ed; and the want of it, that makes him poor, and an object of contempt. I suppose, with Dr. Jobnson, that Shakspeare was still thinking of the rich and poor brother already described.

I doubt much whether Dr. Johnson himself was satisfied with his far-fetched explication of pastour, as applied to brother; [See his note.) and I think no one else can be satisfied with it. In order to give it some little support, he supposes

" This man 's a fiatterer,” in the following passage, to relate to the imaginary pastor in this; whereas those words indubitably relate to any one in. dividual selected out of the aggregate mass of mankind.

In purity of manhood stand upright,

[ocr errors]

Dr. Warburton reads--wether's sides: which affords a commodious sense, but is so far removed from the original reading as to be inadmissible. Shakspeare, I have no doubt, thought at first of those animals that are fatted by pasture, and passed from thence to the proprietor of the soil.

I have sometimes thought that he might have written-ihe breather's sides. He has thrice used the word elsewhere. I will chide no breather in the world, but myself,” says Orlando in As you Like it. Again, in one of his Sonnets:

“ When all the breathers of this world are dead." Again, in Antony and Cleopatra:

" She shows a body, rather than a life;

"A statue than a breather." If this was the author's word in the passage before us, it must mean every living animal. But I have little faith in such conjectures.

Concerning the third word there can be no difficulty. Leane was the old spelling of lear, and the u in the MSS. of our author's time is not to be distinguished from an n. Add to this, that in the first folio u is constantly employed where we now use a v; and bence, hy inversion, the two letters were often confounded (as they are at this day in almost every proof-sheet of every book that passes through the press). Of this I have given various instances in a note in Vol. 111, p. 140, 11. 5.

But it is not necessary to have recourse to these instances. This very word leave is again printed instead of leane, in King Henry I', Part II, quarto, 1600:

“ The lives of your loving complices

Leave on your health " On the other hand, in King Henry VIII, 1623, we bave leane in. stead of leave: “You ’li leane your noise anon, you rascals." But any argument on this point is superfluous, since the context clear. ly shows that lean must have been the word intended by Shak. speare.

Such emendations as those now adopted, thus founded and supported, are not capricious conjectures, against which no one has set his face more than myself, but almost certainties.

This note has run out into an inordinate length, for which I shall make no other apology than that finding it necessary to de part from the reading of the old copy, to obtain any sense, I thought it incumbent on me to support the readings I have cha sen, in the best manner in my power. Malone.

As a brother (meaning, I suppose, a church man,) does not, li. terally speaking, fatten himself by feeding on land, it is probable that pasture signifies eating in general, without reference to terra firma. So, in Love's Labour's Lost:

“ Food for his rage, repasture for his den." Pasture, in the sense of nourishment collected from fields, will undoubtedly fatten the sides of a sheep or an os, but who ever

And say, This man 's a flatterer ?8 if one be,
So 16 they ail; for every grize of fortune
Is smooth’d by that below: the learned pate
Ducks to the golden fool : All is oblique;
There 's nothing level in our cursed natures,
But direct villainy. Therefore, be abhorr'd
All feasts, societies, and throngs of men!
His semblable, yea, himself, Timon disdains:
Destruction fang mankind !!~~Earth, yield me roots !

Who seeks for better o thee, sauce his palate
With thy most oper. nt poison! What is here?

; I am no‘idle votarist.2 Roots, you clear heavens!3


describes the owner of the fields as having derived from them his embonpoint?

The emendation-lean is found in the second folio, which should not have been denied the praise to which it is entitled.

Breather's sides can never be right; for who is likely to grow fat through the mere privilege of breathing? or who indeed can receive sustenance without it?

The reading in the text may be the true one; but the condition in which this play was transmitted to us, is such as will warrant repeated doubts in almost every scene of it. Steevens.

6 And say, This man's a flatterer?] This man does not refer to any particular person before mentioned!, as Dr. Johnson thought, but to some supposed individual. Who, sais Timon, can with propriety lay his band on this or that individual, and pronounce him a peculiar flatterer? All mankind are equally flatterers. So, in As

• Who can come in, and say, that I mean her,
" When such a one as she, such is her neighbour?"

-for every grize of fortune -] Grize for step or degree,

Jou Like it :




fang mankind!) i. e. seize, gripe. This verb is used by Decker in his Match me at London, 1631:

bite any catchpole that fangs for you.” Steevens. ?- no idle votarist.) No insincere or inconstant supplicant. Gold will not serve me instead of roots. Fohnson.

you clear heavens !) This may mean either ye cloudless skies, or ye deities exempt from guilt. Shakspeare mentions the clearest gods in King Lear; and in scolastus, a comedy, 1540, a stranger is thus addressed: “Good stranger or alien, clere gest," &c. Again, in The Rape of Lucrece:


« PreviousContinue »