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But are you sure That Benedick loves Beatrice so entirely?

Hero. So says the prince, and my new-trothed lord.
Urs. And did they bid you tell her of it, madam?

Hero. They did intreat me to acquaint her of it:
But I persuaded them, if they lov'd Benedick,
To wish him? wrestle with affection,
And never to let Beatrice know of it.

Urs. Why did you so? Doth not the gentleman
Deserve as full, as fortunate a bed,
As ever Beatrice shall couch upon?

Hero. O God of love! I know, he doth deserve
As much as may be yielded to a man:
But nature never fram'd a woman's heart
Of prouder stuff than that of Beatrice:
Disdain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes,
Misprising 3 what they look on; and her wit
Values itself so highly, that to her
All matter else seems weak:* she cannot love,




her spirit, she will not admit of any society, until such a time as nature worketh,” &c. So, in The Tragical History of Didaco and Violenta, 1576:

“Perchaunce she's not of haggard's kind,

“ Nor heart so hard to bend,” &c. Steevens. 1 To wish him.-) i. e. recommend or desire. So, in The Honest Whore, 1604:

“Go wish the surgeon to have great respect,” &c. Again, in The Hog hath lost his Pearl, 1614: “ But lady mine that shall be, your father hath wish'd me to appoint the day with you.” Reed. -as full, &c.] So, in Othello:

“ What a full fortune doth the thick-lips owe?" &c. Mr. M. Mason very justly observes, that what Ursula means

say is, “ that he is as deserving of complete happiness in the marriage state, as Beatrice herself.” Steevens.

3 Misprising -] Despising, contemning. Fohnson.

To misprise is to undervalue, or take in a wrong light. So, in Troilus and Cressida :

- a great deal misprising
“ The knight oppos’d.” Steevens.

that to her
All matter else seems weak :] So, in Love's Labour's Lost :

to your huge store
“Wise things seem foolish, and rich things but poor.”




Nor take no shape nor project of affection,
She is so self-endeared.

Sure, I think so;
And therefore, certainly, it were not good
She knew his love, lest she make sport at it.

Hero. Why, you speak truth: I never yet saw man, How wise, how noble, young, how rarely featur'd, But she would spell him backward:5 if fair-faced, She'd swear, the gentleman should be her sister; If black, why, nature, drawing of an antick, Made a foul blot:6 if tall, a lance ill-headed;






-spell him backward :] Alluding to the practice of witches in uttering prayers.

The following passages containing a similar train of thought, are from Lyly's Anatomy of Wit, 1581:

“ If one be hard in conceiving, they pronounce him a dowlte: if given to studie, they proclaim him a dunce: if merry, a jester: if sad, a saint: if full of words, a sot: if without speech, a cypher: if one argue with him boldly, then is he impudent : if coldly, an innocent: if there be reasoning of divinitie, they cry, Quæ supra nos, nihil ad nos : if of humanitie, sententias lo quitur carnifex.Again, p. 44, b.“

if he be cleanly, they (women) term him proude: if meene in apparel, a sloven : if tall, a lungis : if shorte, a dwarfe : if bold, blunt: if shamefast, a cowarde,” &c. P. 55: “If she be well set, then call her a bosse : if slender, a hasill twig: if nut brown, black as a coal : if well colourd, a painted wall: if she be pleasant, then is she wanton : if sullen, a clowne : if honest, then is she coye.” Steevens.

If black, why, nature, drawing of an antick, Made a foul blot:] The antick was a buffoon character in the old English farces, with a blacked face, and a patch-work habit. What I would observe from hence is, that the name of antick or antique, given to this character, shows that the people had some traditional ideas of its being borrowed from the ancient mimes, who are thus described by Apuleius : mimi centunculo, fuligine faciem obducti.Warburton.

I believe what is here said of the old English farces, is said at random. Dr: Warburton was thinking, I imagine, of the modern Harlequin. I have met with no proof that the face of the antick or Vice of the old English comedy was blackened. By the word black in the text, is only meant, as I conceive, swarthy, or dark brown. Malone.

A black man means a man with a dark or thick beard, not a swarthy or dark-brown complexion, as Mr. Malone conceives.

Douce. When Hero says, that nature drawing of an antick, made :



If low, an agate very vilely cut:7
If speaking, why, a vane blown with all winds;8
If silent, why, a block moved with none.


foul blot,” she only alludes to a drop of ink that may casually fall out of a pen, and spoil a grotesque drawing. Steevens.

7 If low, an agate very vilely cut:] But why an agate, if low! For what likeness between a little man and an agate? The ancients, indeed, used this stone to cut upon; but very exquisitely. I make no question but the poet wrote:

an aglet very vilely cut: An aglet was a tag of those points, formerly so much in fashion. These tags were either of gold, silver, or brass, according to the quality of the wearer; and were commonly in the shape of little images: or at least had a head cut at the extremity. The French call them, aiguillettes. Mezeray, speaking of Henry IIId's sorrow for the death of the princess of Conti, says, "portant meme sur les aiguillettes des petites tetes de mort.And as a tall man is before compared to a lance ill-headed; so, by the same figure, a little man is very aptly liken’d to an aglet ill-cut. Warburton.

The old reading is, I believe, the true one. Vilely cut may not only mean awkwardly worked by a tool into shape, but grotesquely veined by nature as it grew. To this circumstance, I suppose, Drayton alludes in his Muses' Elizium :

“ With th' agate, very oft that is

Cut strangely in the quarry;
“ As nature meant to show in this

“ How she herself can vary.” Pliny mentions that the shapes of various beings are to be discovered in agates; and Mr. Addison has very elegantly compared Shakspeare, who was born with all the seeds of poetry, to the agate in the ring of Pyrrhus, which, as Pliny tells us, had the figure of Apollo and the nine Muses in the veins of it, produced by the spontaneous hand of nature, without any help from art.

Steevens. Dr. Warburton reads aglet, which was adopted, I think, too hastily by the subsequent editors. I see no reason for departing from the old copy. Shakspeare's comparisons scarcely ever answer completely on both sides. Dr. Warburton asks, “What likeness is there between a little man and an agate?. No other than that both are small. Our author has himself in another place compared a very little man to an agate. “ Thou whorson mandrake, (says Falstaff to his page) thou art fitter to be worn in my cap, than to wait at my heels. I was never so man'd with an agate till now.” Hero means no more than this : “ If a man be low, Beatrice will say that he is as diminutive and unhappily formed as an ill-cut agate."

It appears both from the passage just quoted, and from one of Sir John Harrington's epigrams, 4to. 1618, that agates were commonly worn in Shakspeare's time:


So turns she every man the wrong side out;
And never gives to truth and virtue, that
Which simpleness and merit purchaseth.

Urs. Sure, sure, such carping is not commendable.

Hero. No: not to be so odd, and from all fashions, As Beatrice is, cannot be commendable: But who dare tell her so: If I should speak, She'd mock me into air; O, she would laugh me Out of myself, press me to death with wit.9 Therefore let Benedick, like cover'd fire, Consume away in sighs, waste inwardly: It were a better death than die with mocks; Which is as bad as die with tickling. 1

Urs. Yet tell her of it; hear what she will say.

Hero. No; rather I will go to Benedick, And council him to fight against his passion:



The author to a daughter nine years

“ Though pride in damsels is a hateful vice,

“ Yet could I like a noble-minded girl,
“ That would demand me things of costly price,

“Rich velvet gowns, pendents, and chains of pearle,

“ Cark’nets of agats, cut with rare device," &c. These lines, at the same time that they add support to the old reading, shew, I think, that the words “vilely cut,” are to be understood in their usual sense, when applied to precious stones, viz. awkwardly wrought by a tool, and not, as Mr. Steevens supposes, grotesquely veined by nature. Malone.

avane blown with all winds ;] This comparison might have been borrowed from an ancient black-letter ballad, intitled A Comparison of the Life of Man:

“I may compare a man againe,
“ Even like unto a twining vane,
“ That changeth even as doth the wind;
“ Indeed so is man's fickle mind.” Steevens.

press me to death --] The allusion is to an ancient punishment of our law, called peine fort et dure, which was formerly inflicted on those persons, who, being indicted, refused to plead. In consequence of their silence, they were pressed to death by an heavy weight laid upon their stomach. This punishment the good sense and humanity of the legislature have within these few years abolished. Malone.

1 Which is as bad as die with tickling. ] The author meant that tickling should be pronounced as a trisyllable; tickeling. So, in Spenser, B. II, Canto xii:

a strange kind of harmony; “Which Guyon's senses softly tickeled," &c. Malone.


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And, truly, I 'll devise some honest slanders
To stain my cousin with: One doth not know,
How much an ill word may empoison liking.

Urs. O, do not do your cousin such a wrong.
She cannot be so much without true judgment,
(Having so swift and excellent a wit,2
As she is prizid to have) as to refuse
So rare a gentleman as signior Benedick.

Hero. He is the only man of Italy,
Always excepted my dear Claudio.

Urs. I pray you, be not angry with me, madam,
Speaking my fancy; signior Benedick,
For shape, for bearing, argument, 3 and valour,
Goes foremost in report through Italy.

Hero. Indeed, he hath an excellent good name.

Urs. His excellence did earn it, ere he had it.When are you married, madam?

Hero. Why, every day ;-to-morrow: Come, go in; I'll show thee some attires; and have thy counsel, Which is the best to furnish me to-morrow. Urs. She's lim’dI warrant you; we have caught her,

madam. Hero. If it prove so, then loving goes by haps: Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.

[Exeunt HERO and URS.

BEATRICE advances.
Beat. What fire is in mine ears?5 Can this be true?

Stand I condemn’d for pride and scorn so much? Contempt, farewel! and maiden pride, adieu!

No glory lives behind the back of such.



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so swift and excellent a wit,] Swift means ready. So, in As you

Like it, Act V, sc. iv:
He is very swift and sententious.” Steevens.

argument,] This word seems here to signify discourse, or, the powers of reasoning. Fohnson.

Argument, in the present instance, certainly means conversation. So, in King Henry IV, P. I:“. - It would be argument for a week, laughter for a month, and a good jest for ever." Steevens.

4 She's lim'd-] She is ensnared and entangled as a sparrow with birdlime. Fohnson. So, in The Spanish Tragedy:

“ Which sweet conceits are lim'd with sly deceits.” The folio reads-She's ta’en. Steevens.

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