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From women's eyes this doctrine I derive ; They are the ground, the book, the academes, From whence doth spring the true Promethean fire i Why, universal plodding prisons up The nimble spirits in the arteries; As motion, and long-during action, tires The finewy vigour of the traveller. Now, for not looking on a woman's face, You have in that forsworn the ufe of eyes ; And study too, the causer of your vow. For where is any author in the world, Teaches such beauty as a woman's eye ; * Learning is but an adjunct to ourself, And where we are, our learning likewise is. Then, when ourselves we see in ladies' eyes, Do we not likewise see our learning there? O, we have made a vow to study, lords ; And in that vow we have forsworn our books: For when would you, my liege, or you, or yout, 3 In leaden contemplation have found out Such fiery numbers, as the prompting eyes
Of 9 From women's eyes, &c.] This and the two following lines are omitted, I suppose, by mere oversight in Dr. Warburton's edition.
JOHNSON · Tibe nimble fpirits in the arteries ;) In the old fyftem of physic
the fame office to the arteries as is now given to the nerves ; as appears from the name which is derived from ösga tugeñt.
WARBURTÒN. 2 Teaches such beauty as a woman's eye?] i.e. a lady's eyes give 2 fuller notion of beauty than any authour. Johnson.
3 In leaden contemplation have found out
Sucb fiery numbers -] Alluding to the discoveries in modern aftronomy; at that time greatly improving, in which the ladies' eyes are compared, as usaal, to stars. He calls them numbers, alluding to the Pythagorean principles of astronomy, which were founded on the laws of harmony. The Oxford editor, who was at a loss for the conceit, changes numbers to notions, and fo loses both the sense and the gal
Of beauteous tutors have enrich'd you with ?
Subtle Jantry of the allusion. He has better luck in the following line, and has rightly changed beauty's to beauteous. WARBURTON.
Numbers are, in this passage, nothing more than poetical mea: Jures. Could you, says Biron, by solitary contemplation, have attained such poetical fire, sush Spritely numbers, as have been prompted by the eyes of beauty? The astronomer, by looking too much aloft, falls into a ditch. JOHNSON.
- the suspicious head of theft is floppd.) i. e, a lover in pursuit of his miltress has his sense of hearing quicker than a thief (who suspects every found he hears) in pursuit of his prey: But Mr. Theobald says, there is no contrap between a lover and a thief: and therefore alters it to thrift, between which and love, he says, there is a remarkable antithefis. What he means by contraft and antithefis, I confess, I don't understand. But 'tis no matter : the common reading is sense; and that is better than either one or the other.
Still climbing trees in the Hesperides?]
Subtle as sphinx ; as sweet and musical
the trees, but in attacking the dragon gardant. I rather think, that for valour we should read favour, and the poet meant, that Hercules was allured by the odour and fragrancy of the golden apples. THEOBALD.
6 As bright Apollo's lute, Arung with his hair :) This expression. like that other in the Two Gentlemen of Verona, of
Orpheus' barp was ftrung with poet's finews, is extremely beautiful, and highly figurative. Apollo, as the fan, is represented with golden hair; so that a lute strung with his hair, means no more than ftrung with gilded wire.
WARBURTON: How much more sublime is the imagination of our poet, which represents that instrument as trung with the sun-beams, which in poetry are called Apollo's hair. Revisal.
? And when love speaks the voice of all the Gods
Makes heaven drowsy with the barmony !] This nonsense we should read and point thus,
And when love speaks the voice of all the Gods,
Mark, heaven drowf: with the barmony. i. e. in the voice of love alone is included the voice of all the Gods. Alluding to that ancient Theogony, that Love was the parent and support of all the Gods. Hence, as Suidas tells us, Palæphatus wrote a poem called, "Adgoderns sj "Epzī@ pasi gj hoye The voice and speech of Venus and Love, which appears to have been a kind of cosmogony, the harmony of which is so great, that it calms and allays all kinds of disorders ; alluding again to the antient use of music, which was to compose monarchs, when, by reason of the cares of empire, they used to pass whole nights in reftless inquietude. WARBURTON. The ancient reading is, Make heaven
JOHNSON. I cannot find any reason for this emendation, nor do I believe the poet to have been at all acquainted with that ancient theogony mentioned by the critic. The former reading, with the light ad. dition of a single letter, was, perhaps, the true one. W ben LOVE speaks, (says Biron) the assembled Gods reduce the element of the fly to a calm, by obeir barmonious applauses of this favoured oraler,
Never durft poet touch a pen to write,
A very ingenious friend observes, that the meaning of the pas. fage may be this.-T bat tbe vcice of all ibu God's united, couli inspire only drvu fins, u ben compared with the chearful fees of the voice of Love. That sense is sufficiently congruous with the rest of the speech.
Dr. Warburton has raised the idea of his author, by imputing to him a knowledge, of which, I believe, he was not possessed; but should either of these explanations prove the true one, I shall offer no apology for having made him Acop from the critic's ele. yation. I would, however, read,
Makes beaven drowly with its harmony. Though the words mark and bebelt are alike used to bespeak or summon attention, yet the former of them appears so haríh in Dr. Warburton's emendation, that I read the line several times over before I perceived its meaning. To /pak the voice of the Gods appears to me as defective in the same way. Dr. Warburton, in a note on All's well that Ends well, observes, that to speak a found is a barbarism. To speak a voice is, I think, not less reprehenfible.
Steevens. Few passages have been more canvassed than this. I believe, it wants no alteration of the words, but only of the pointing.
And when love speaks (the voice of all) the Gods
Make biaven drowsy with the harmony. Love, I apprehend, is called the voice of all, as gold, in Timon, is faid to speak with every tongue ; and obe Guds (being drowsy them. felves with the barmony) are supposed to make heaven drowsy. If one could posibly suspect Shakespeare of having read Pindar, one should say, that the idea of music making the hearers drowsy, was borrowed from the first Pythian. T. T.
8 From womens' eyes o his doétrine I derive :) In this speech I furo pect a more than common instance of the inaccuracy of the first publishers.
From womens' eyes this do&trine I derive, and several other lines are as unnecessarily repeated. Dr.Warbur. ton was aware of this, and omitted two ve.fes, which Dr. Johnson has fince inserted. Perhaps the players printed it from piece-meal parts, or retained what the author had rejected, as well as what had undergone his revisal. It is here given according to tie regulation of the old copies. Steev: Ns.
They sparkle still the right Promethean fire,
field ! Biron. Advance your standards, and upon them,
Pell-mell, down with them! but be first advis'd,
King. And win them too : therefore let us devise Some entertainment for them in their tents.
a word, that loves all men ;] We hould read,
a word all women love. The following line,
Or for men's sake (the author of these women ;) which refers to this reading, puts it out of all question.
WARBURTON, Perhaps we might read thus, transposing the lines,
Or for love's fake, a word that loves all men;
Or for men's sake, the authours of these women. The antithesis of a word that all men love, and a word which loves all men, though in itself worth little, has much of the spirit of this play. JOHNSON.