Page images
PDF
EPUB

Prest for this blow.

The unborn event

I do commend to your content:1

Only I carry winged times

Post on the lame feet of my rhyme;

Which never could I so convey,

Unless your thoughts went on my way.―

Dionyza does appear,

With Leonine, a murderer.

[Exit.

Prest for this blow.] Prest is ready; pret, Fr. So, in The Tragicall History of Romeus and Juliet, 1562:

[ocr errors]

"I will, God lendyng lyfe, on Wensday next be prest "To wayte on him and you

See note on The Merchant of Venice, Vol. VII. p. 243, n. 2. MALONE,

The unborn event

I do commend to your content:] I am not sure that I understand this passage; but so quaint and licentious is the phraseology of our Pseudo-Gower, that perhaps he means-I wish you to find content in that portion of our play which has not yet been exhibited.

Our author might indeed have written consent, i. e. co-operation, your assistance in carrying on our present delusion. STEEVENS.

2

* Only I carry-] Old copy-carried. STEEVENS.

3

Tale:

"I

winged time-] So, in the Chorus to The Winter's

"Now take upon me, in the name of time,

"To use my wings.'

Again, in King Henry V:

"Thus with imagin'd wing our swift scene flies,
"In motion of no less celerity

"Than that of thought." MALONE.

SCENE I.

Tharsus. An open Place near the Sea-shore.

Enter DIONYZA and LEOnine.

DION. Thy oath remember; thou hast sworn to
do it:+

'Tis but a blow, which never shall be known.
Thou canst not do a thing i'the world so soon,
To yield thee so much profit. Let not conscience,
Which is but cold, inflame love in thy bosom,5

4

Thy oath remember; thou hast sworn to do it:] Here, I think, may be traced the rudiments of the scene in which Lady Macbeth instigates her husband to murder Duncan : "I have given suck, and know

"How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me;
"I would, while it was smiling in my face,

"Have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums,
"And dash'd the brains out, had I but so sworn,
"As you have done to this." MALONE.

5-inflame love in thy bosom,] The first quarto reads "Let not conscience which is but cold, in flaming thy love bosome, enflame too nicelie, nor let pitie," &c. The subsequent impressions afford no assistance. Some words seem to have been lost. The sentiment originally expressed, probably was thisLet not conscience, which is but a cold monitor, deter you from executing what you have promised; nor let the beauty of Marina enkindle the flame of love in your bosom ;-nor be softened by pity, which even I, a woman, have cast off.-I am by no means satisfied with the regulation that I have made, but it affords a glimmering of sense. Nearly the same expression occurred before:

66

·That have inflam'd desire in my breast—.”

I suspect, the words enflame too nicely were written in the margin, the author not having determined which of the two

Inflame too nicely; nor let pity, which
Even women have cast off, melt thee, but be
A soldier to thy purpose.

LEON. I'll do't; but yet she is a goodly crea

ture."

DION. The fitter then the gods should have her," Here'

[ocr errors]

Weeping she comes for her old nurse's death."

expressions to adopt; and that by mistake they were transcribed as a part of the text. The metre, which might be more commodiously regulated, if these words were omitted, in some measure supports this conjecture:

[ocr errors]

"Nor let pity, which ev'n women have cast off,
"Melt thee, but be a soldier to thy purpose."

We might read:

inflame thy loving bosom:

MALONE.

With Mr. Malone's alteration, however, the words will bear the following sense :-Let not conscience, which in itself is of a cold nature, have power to raise the flame of love in you, raise

it even to folly.-Nicely, in ancient language, signifies foolishly. Niais, Fr.

Perhaps, indeed, the passage originally stood thus:

Let not conscience,

Which is but cold, inflame love in thy bosom;
Nor let that pity women have cast off,

Melt thee, but be a soldier to thy purpose.

Enflame too nicely-and-which even, are the words I omit. I add only the pronoun-that. STEEVENS.

[blocks in formation]

but yet she is a goodly creature.] So, in King Henry

- and yet my conscience says

"She's a good creature." STEEvens,

but yet she is a goodly creature.

Dion. The fitter then the gods should have her.] So, in King Richard III:

"O, he was gentle, mild, and virtuous.

"The fitter for the King of Heaven." STEEVENS.

Here

Weeping she comes for her old nurse's death.] Old copy:
Here she comes weeping for her onely mistresse death.

Thou art resolv'd?

LEON.

'I am resolv'd.

Enter MARINA, with a Basket of Flowers.

MAR. No, no, I will rob Tellus of her weed, To strew thy green with flowers: the yellows, blues,

As Marina had been trained in musick, letters, &c. and had gained all the graces of education, Lychorida could not have been her only mistress. I would therefore read:

Here comes she weeping for her old nurse's death.

PERCY.

I have no doubt but we should adopt the ingenious amendment suggested by Percy, with this difference only, the leaving out the word for, which is unnecessary, and hurts the metre. should therefore read:

Here she comes, weeping her old nurse's death.

M. MASON.

I have adopted Dr. Percy's amendment, but without Mr. M. Mason's attempt to improve it. The word for is necessary to the metre, as above in the preceding line was a modern interpolation. STEEvens.

I think mistress right. Her nurse was in one sense her mistress; Marina, from her infancy to the age of fourteen, having been under the care of Lychorida.

Her only (or her old) mistress' death, (not "mistresses death,") was the language of Shakspeare's time. So, in The Merchant of Venice:

9

"With sweetest touches pierce your mistress' ear," &c. MALONE.

No, [no,] I will rob Tellus of her weed,

To strew thy green with flowers:] Thus the quartos. In the folio grave was substituted for green. By the green, as Lord Charlemont suggests to me, was meant "the green turf with which the grave of Lychorida was covered." So, in Tasso's Godfrey of Bulloigne, translated by Fairfax, 1600: My ashes cold shall, buried on this green, "Enjoy that good this body ne'er possest.' Weed in old language meant garment. MALONE.

66

The purple violets, and marigolds,

Shall, as a chaplet, hang upon thy grave,

While summer days do last.1 Ah me! poor maid,

Before we determine which is the proper reading, let us reflect a moment on the business in which Marina is employed. She is about to strew the grave of her nurse Lychorida with flowers, and therefore makes her entry with propriety, saying

No, no, I will rob Tellus &c.

i. e. No, no, it shall never be said that I left the tomb of one to whom I owe so much, without some ornament. Rather than it shall remain undecorated, I will strip the earth of its robe, &c. The prose romance, already quoted, says " that always as she came homeward, she went and washed the tombe of her and kept it contynually fayre and clene."

nouryce,

Though I do not recollect that the green hillock under which a person is buried, is any where called their green, my respect for Lord Charlemont's opinion has in this present instance withheld me from deserting the most ancient text, however dubious its authority. STEEVENS.

Shall, as a chaplet, [Old copy-carpet,] hang upon thy

grave,

While summer days do last.] So, in Cymbeline:
with fairest flowers,

66

"While summer lasts, and I live here, Fidele,

"I'll sweeten thy sad grave. Thou shalt not lack
"The flower that's like thy face, pale primrose, nor
"The azur'd hare-bell, like thy veins, no nor
"The leaf of eglantine, whom not to slander
"Out-sweeten'd not thy breath."

Mr. Steevens would read-Shall as a chaplet, &c. The word hang, it must be owned, favours this correction, but the flowers strew'd on the green-sward, may with more propriety be compared to a carpet than a wreath. MALONE.

Malone informs us that all the former copies read-as a carpet, which was probably the right reading: nor would Steevens have changed it for chaplet had he attended to the beginning of Marina's speech:

"I will rob Tellus of her weed,
"To strew thy grave with flowers :"

which corresponds with the old reading, not with his amendment. M. MASON.

Perhaps Mr. M. Mason's remark also might have been spared,

« PreviousContinue »