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To note the chamber, I will write all down :
story, The passage before us, without Dr. Warburton's emendation, is, to nie at least, unintelligible. STEEVENS. So, in Romeo and Juliet :
“ What envious streaks do lace the severing clouds.” These words, I apprehend, refer not to Imogen's eye-lids, (of which the poet would scarcely have given so particular a description,) but to the inclosed lights, i. e. her eyes : which though now shut, Iachimo had seen before, and which are here said in poetical language to be blue, and that blue celestial.
Dr. Warburton is of opinion that the eye-lid was meant, and according to his notion, the poet intended to praise its white skin, and blue veins.
Drayton, who has often imitated Shakspeare, seems to have viewed this passage in the same light :
“ And these sweet veins by nature rightly placid,
“ She soon doth alter.” The Mooncalf, 1627. Malone. We learn from a quotation in n. 3, that by blue windows were meant blue eye-lids ; and indeed our author has dwelt on corresponding imagery in The Winter's Tale :
violets, dim, “ But sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes.” particular description, therefore, of the same objects, might, in the
present instance, have been designed.
Thus, in Chapman's translation of the twenty-third book of Homer's Odyssey, Minerva is the person
The arras, figures,
thus : the arras-figures;" that is, the figures of the arras. But, I think, he is mistaken. It appears from what Iachimo says afterwards, that he had noted, not only the figures of the arras, but the stuff of which the arras was composed :
It was hang'd
“ Proud Cleopatra," &c. VOL. XIII.
Ah, but some natural notes about her body,
[Taking off her Bracelet. As slippery, as the Gordian knot was hard !'Tis mine; and this will witness outwardly, As strongly as the conscience does within, To the madding of her lord. On her left breast A mole cinque-spotted ?, like the crimson drops Again, in Act V.:
but as a monument, Thus in a chapel lying !] Shakspeare was here thinking of the recumbent whole-length figures, which in his time were usually placed on the tombs of considerable persons. The head was always reposed upon a pillow. He has again the same allusion in his Rape of Lucrece:
“ Where like a virtuous monument she lies,
“ To be admir'd of lewd unhallow'd eyes.” See also vol. viii. p. 430. n. 6. MALONE. 7 - On her left breast
A mole cinque-spotted,] Our author certainly took this circumstance from some translation of Boccacio's novel; for it does not occur in the imitation printed in Westward for Smelts, which the reader will find at the end of this play. In the Decamerone, Ambrogioulo, (the Iachimo of our author,) who is concealed in a chest in the chamber of Madonna Gineura, (whereas in Westward for Smelts the contemner of female chastity hides mself under the lady's bed,) wishing to discover some particular mark about her person, which might help him to deceive her husband, “at last espied a large mole under her left breast, with several hairs round it, of the colour of gold.”.
Though this mole is said in the present passage to be on Imogen's breast, in the account that Iachimo afterwards gives to Posthumus, our author has adhered closely to his original :
under her breast
l' the bottom of a cowslip 8 : Here's a voucher, Stronger than ever law could make : this secret Will force him think I have pick'd the lock, and
ta'en T'he treasure of her honour. No more.-To what
end ? Why should I write this down, that's rivetted, Screw'd to my memory? She hath been reading
late The tale of Tereus'; here the leaf's turn'd down, Where Philomel gave up ;-I have enough: To the trunk again, and shut the spring of it. Swift, swift, you dragons of the night'!-that
dawning May bare the raven's eye ? : I lodge in fear;
- like the crimson drops I' the bottom of a cowslip:) This simile contains the smallest out of a thousand proofs that Shakspeare was an observer of nature, though, in this instance, no very accurate describer of it, for the drops alluded to are of a deep yellow. Steevens.
She hath been reading late THE TALE of Tereus:] Tereus and Progne is the second tale in A Petite Palace of Pettie his Pleasure, printed in quarto, in 1576. The same tale is related in Gower's poem De Confessione Amantis, b. v. fol. 113, b. and in Ovid's Metamorphoses, l. vi.
MALONE. - you DRAGONS of the night!] The task of drawing the chariot of night was assigned to dragons, on account of their supposed watchfulness. Milton mentions “the dragon yoke of night” in Il Penseroso ; and in his Masque at Ludlow Castle :
the dragon womb
sub pedibus deam
Frænis dracones aureis. It may be remarked, that the whole tribe of serpents sleep with their eyes open, and therefore appear to exert a constant vigilance.
Steevens. -that dawning May Bare the raven's eye:] The old copy has—beare. The correction was proposed by Mr. Theobald : and I think properly adopted by Sir T. Hanmer and Dr. Johnson. MALONE.
Though this a heavenly angel, hell is here.
[Clock strikes. One, two, three ,—Time, time!
[Goes into the Trunk. The Scene closes.
An Ante-Chamber adjoining IMOGEN's Apartment.
Enter Cloten and Lords. 1 Lord. Your lordship is the most patient man in loss, the most coldest that ever turned up ace.
Clo. It would make any man cold to lose.
1 LORD. But not every man patient, after the noble temper of your lordship; You are most hot, and furious, when you win.
Clo. Winning would put any man into courage : If I could get this foolish Imogen, I should have gold enough: It's almost morning, is't not ?
1 LORD. Day, my lord.
Clo. I would this musick would come: I am advised to give her musick o' mornings; they say, it will penetrate.
The poet means no more than that the light might wake the raven; or, as it is poetically expressed, bare his eye. Steevens.
It is well known that the raven is a very early bird, perhaps earlier than the lark. Our poet says of the crow, (a bird whose properties resemble very much those of the raven,) in his Troilus and Cressida:
“ () Cressida, but that the busy day
HEATH. 3 One, two, three,] Our author is often careless in his computation of time. Just before Imogen went to sleep, she asked her attendant what hour it was, and was informed by her, it was almost midnight. lachimo, immediately after she has fallen asleep, comes from the trunk, and the present soliloquy cannot have consumed more than a few minutes :-yet we are now told that it is three o'clock. Malone.
Come on ; tune: If you can penetrate her with your fingering, so; we'll try with tongue too: if none will do, let her remain; but i'll never give o'er. First, a very excellent good-conceited thing; after, a wonderful sweet air, with admirable rich words to it,--and then let her consider.
And Phæbus 'gins arise,
On chalic'd flowers that liess; 4 Hark! hark! the lark at heaven's gate sings,] The same hyperbole occurs in Milton's Paradise Lost, book v. :
“ That singing up to heaven's gate ascend." Again, in Shakspeare's 29th Sonnet :
“ Like to the lark at break of day arising
STEEVENS. Perhaps Shakspeare had Lyly's Alexander and Campaspe in his mind, when he wrote this song :
who is't now we hear ;
“ Hark, hark ---" REED. In this Song, Shakspeare might have imitated some of the following passages :
“ The besy larke, the messager of day,
Chaucer's Knight's Tale, v. 1493, Tyrwhitt's edit.
Skelton's Crowne of Laurel. " Wake now my love, awake; for it is time,
The rosy morne long since left Tithon's bed,