Page images

She, whom the spital-house, and ulcerous sores Would cast the gorge at’, this embalms and spices

word is not used now, but wapping, and thereof comes the name wapping-morts for whores.” Again, in one of the Paston Letters, vol. iv. p. 417: “ Deal courteously with the Queen, &c. and with Mrs. Anne Hawte for wappys,&c.

Mr. Anmer observes, that “ the editor of these same Letters, to wit, Sir John Fenn, (as perhaps becometh a grave man and a magistrate,) professeth not to understand this passage.”

It must not, however, be concealed, that Chaucer, in The Complaint of Annelida, line 217, uses the word in the sense in which Dr. Warburton explains it :

My sewertye in waped countenance.” Wappened, according to the quotations I have already given, would mean,—“ The widow whose curiosity and passions had been already gratified." So, in Hamlet :

The instances that second marriage move,

Are base respects of thrift, but none of love." And if the word defunct, in Othello, be explained according to its primitive meaning, the same sentiment may be discovered there. There may, however, be some corruption in the text. After all, I had rather read—weeping widow. So, in the ancient bl. 1. ballad entitled, The Little Barley Corne:

“ 'Twill make a weeping widow laugh,

“ And soon incline to pleasure." STEEVENS. The instances produced by Mr. Steevens fully support the text in my apprehension, nor do I suspect any corruption. Unwapper'd is used by Fletcher in The Two Noble Kinsmen, for fresh, the opposite of stale : and perhaps we should read there unwappen'd.

Mr. Steevens's interpretation however, is, I think, not quite exact, because it appears to me likely to mislead the reader with respect to the general import of the passage. Shakspeare means not to account for the wappen’d widow's seeking a husband, (though“ her curiosity has been gratified,) but for her finding one. It is her gold, says he, that induces some one (more attentive to thrift than love) to accept in marriage the hand of the experienced and o'er-worn widow.-Wed is here used for wedded. So, in The Comedy of Errors, Act I. Sc. I. :

“ In Syracusa was I born, and wed

“ Unto a woman, happy but for me." Again, in The Taming of the Shrew, vol. v. p. 426 :

To wish me wed to one half lunatick." Again, in The Maid's Tragedy:

He that understands
“ Whom you have wed needs not to wish you joy."

To the April day again'. Come, damned earth, Thou common whore of mankind, that put'st odds

If wed is used as a verb, the words mean,

" that effects or produces her second marriage." MALONE. I believe, unwapper'd

means undebilitated by venery, i. e. not halting under crimes many and stale. Steevens.

Mr. Tyrwhitt explains wapid in the line cited from Chaucer, by stupified; a sense which accords with the other instances adduced by Mr. Steevens, as well as with Shakspeare. The wappend widow, is one who is no longer alive to those pleasures, the desire of which was her first inducement to marry. Henley.

I suspect that there is another error in this passage, which has escaped the notice of the editors, and that we should read— woo'd again," instead of “wed again.” That a woman should wed again, however wapper'd, (or wappen d] is nothing extraordinary. The extraordinary circumstance is, that she should be woo'd again, and become an object of desire. M. Mason.

Mr. Malone's remark that wed is frequently used for wedded is one answer to Mr. Mason's objection; another is, that there must be two parties to a marriage, and that the widow could not be wedded unless she could persuade some one to wed her.

BoswELL, 9 She, whom the spital-house, and ulcerous sores Would cast the gorge at,] Surely we ought to read :

She, whose ulcerous sores the spital-house

“ Would cast the gorge atOr, should the first line be thought deficient in harmony

" She, at whose ulcerous sores the spital-house

“ Would cast the gorge up--" So, in Spenser's Fairy Queen:

And all the way, most like a brutish beast,

“ He spewed up his gorge." The old reading is nonsense.

I must add, that Dr. Farmer joins with me in suspecting this passage to be corrupt, and is satisfied with the emendation I have proposed. Steevens.

In Antony and Cleopatra, we have honour and death, for honourable death. “ The spital-house and ulcerous sores," therefore, may be used for the contaminated spital-house; the spitalhouse replete with ulcerous sores. If it be asked, how can the spital-house, or how can ulcerous sores, cast the gorge at the female here described, let the following passages answer the question: “ Heaven stops the nose at it, and the moon winks.


Among the rout of nations, I will make thee
Do thy right nature ?-[March afar off.]-Ha!'a

drum ?-Thou'rt quick *, Again, in Hamlet :

“Whose spirit, with divine ambition puffd,

« Makes mouths at the invincible event." Again, ibidem :

till our ground Singing his pate against the burning zone,” &c. Again, in Julius Cæsar :

“ Over thy wounds now do I prophecy;

“ Which, like dumb mouths, do ope their ruby lips—," Again, in The Merchant of Venice:

when the bag-pipe sings i' the nose.Again, in the play before us :

when our vaults have wept

“ With drunken spilth of wine-" In the preceding page, all sores are said to lay siege to nature ; which they can no more do, if the passage is to be understood literally, than they can cast the gorge at the sight of the person here described. ---In a word, the diction of the text is so very Shakspearian, that I cannot but wonder it should be suspected of corruption.

The meaning is,-Her whom the spital-house, however polluted, would not admit, but reject with abhorrence, this embalmis, &c. or, (in a looser paraphrase) Her, at the sight of whom all the patients in the spital-house, however contaminated, would sicken and turn away with loathing and abhorrence, disgusted by the view of still greater pollution, than any they had yet experience of, this embalms and spices, &c.

To “cast the gorge at,” was Shakspeare's phraseology. So, in Hamlet, Act V. Sc. I.: “ How abhorr'd in my imagination it is! my gorge rises at it.”

To the various examples which I have produced in support of the reading of the old copy, may be added these :

“ Our fortune on the sea is out of breath,

“ And sinks most lamentably.” Antony and Cleopatra. Again, ibidem :

“ Mine eyes did sicken at the sight." Again, in Hamlet :

“ Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults.Again, ibidem :

we will fetters put upon this fear, “Which now goes too free-footed." Again, in Troilus and Cressida :

“ His evasions have ears thus long." Malone.

But yet I'll bury thee : Thou'lt go, strong thief*,
When gouty keepers of thee cannot stand :-
Nay, stay thou out for earnest.

[Keeping some gold. Enter ALCIBIADES, with Drum and Fife, in war

- like manner; Phrynia and TIMANDRA. Alcio.

What art thou there? Speak. Tim. A beast, as thou art. The canker gnaw thy

heart, For showing me again the eyes of man !

i. e.

1 To the April day again.] That is, to the wedding day, called by the poet, satirically, April day, or fool's day.

Johnson The April day does not relate to the widow, but to the other diseased female, who is represented as the outcast of an hospital. She it is whom gold embalms and spices to the April day again :

gold restores her to all the freshness and sweetness of youth. Such is the power of gold, that it will

make black, white; foul, fair; “ Wrong, right ;” &c. A quotation or two may perhaps support this interpretation. So, in Sidney’s Arcadia, p. 262, edit. 1633 : “Do you see how the spring time is full of flowers, decking itself with them, and not aspiring to the fruits of autumn ? What lesson is that unto you, but that in the April of your age you should be like April.

Again, in Stephens's Apology for Herodotus, 1607 : “ He is a young man, and in the April of his age." Peacham's Compleat Gentleman, chap. iii. calls youth the April of man's life.” Shakspeare's Sonnet entitled Love's Cruelty, has the same thought:

“ Thou art thy mother's glass, and she in thee

“ Calls back the lovely April of her prime.” Daniel's 31st Sonnet has, the April of my years.” Master Fenton "smells April and May." Tollet. 2 Do thy right nature.] Lie in the earth where nature laid thee.

Johnson. Thou’rt quick,] Thou hast life and motion in thee.

JOHNSON. strong thief,] Thus, Chaucer, in the Pardonere's Tale : “ Men wolden say that we were theeves strong.



ALCIB. What is thy name ? Is man so hateful to

That art thyself a man?

Tim. I am misanthropos", and hate mankind.
For thy part, I do wish thou wert a dog,
That I might love thee something.

I know thee well ;
But in thy fortunes am unlearn'd and strange.
Tim. I know thee too; and more, than that I

know thee, I not desire to know. Follow thy drum ; With man's blood paint the ground, gules, gules 6 : Religious canons, civil laws are cruel; Then what should war be? This fell whore of thine Hath in her more destruction than thy sword, For all her cherubin look. PHRY.

Thy lips rot off! Tim. I will not kiss thee?; then the rot returns To thine own lips again. ALCIB. How came the noble Timon to this

change ?

s I am misanthropos,] A marginal note in the old translation of Plutarch's Life of Antony, furnished our author with this epithet: Antonius followeth the life and example of Timon Misanthropus, the Athenian.” Malone.

gules, gules :] Might we not repair the defective metre of this line, by adopting a Shakspearian epithet, and reading

-gules, total gules ; as in the following passage in Hamlet :

“ Now is he total gules.” STEEVENS. 7 I will not kiss thee ;] This alludes to an opinion in former times, generally prevalent, that the venereal infection transmitted to another, left the infecter free. I will not, says Timon, take the rot from thy lips, by kissing thee. Johnson. Thus, The Humourous Lieutenant says :

“ He has some wench, or such a toy, to kiss over,
“ Before he go:

: 'would I had such another,
To draw this foolish pain down.
See also the fourth Satire of Donne. STEEVENS.

2 B

« PreviousContinue »