Obrázky stránek
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Duke. Escalus,
Escal. My lord.

" The story is taken from Cinthio's Novels, Decad. 8. Novel 5.

PoPE. There is perhaps not one of Shakespeare's plays more darkened than this by the peculiarities of its authour, and the unskilfulness of its editors, by diftortions of phrase, or negligence of transcription. JOHNSON.

Shakespeare took the fable of this play from the Promos and
Cassandra of George Whetstone, published in 1578. See Theo-
bald's note at the end.

A hint, like a feed, is more or less prolific, according to the
qualities of the soil on which it is thrown. This story, which in
the hands of Whetstone produced little more than barren infipid-
ity, under the culture of Shakespeare became fertile of entertain-
ment. The curious reader will find that the old play of Promos
and Casandra exhibits an almost complete embryo of Measure for
Measure; yet the hints on which it is formed are so flight, that
it is nearly as impossible to detect them, as it is to point out in
the acorn the future ramifications of the oak.
Whetstone opens

his play thus.

66 Act. I. Scena I.
“ Promos, Mayor, Shirife, Sworde bearer : one with a bunche

- of keyes : Phallas, Promos Man.
** You Officers which now in Julio staye
* Know you your leadge, the King of Hungarie:
“ Sent me Promos, to joyne with you in sway :
“ That ftyll we may to justice have an eye.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

B 2

66 And

" Pro.

- Pro.

Duke. Of government the properties to unfold, Would seem in me to affect speech and discourse; Since I am 3 put to know, that your own science, Exceeds, in that, the lists of all advice 4 My strength can give you : Then no more remains',

But " And now to show, my rule and power at lardge, " Attentivelie, his letters pattents heare :

4 Phallax, reade out my Soveraines chardge. 66 Phal.

As you commaunde, I wyll: give heedeful care.

Phallax readeth the Kinges Letters Patents, which must be fayre written in parchment, with some great

counterfeat Zeale.
Loe, here you see what is our Soveraignes wyl
“ Loe, heare his wish, that right, not might, beare fwaye :
" Loe, heare his care, to weede from good the yll,
To scoorge the wights, good lawes that disobay.
“ Such zeale he beares, unto the common weale,
" (How so he byds, the ignoraunt to save)
“ As he commaundes, the lewde doo rigor feele, &c. &c. &c.

Both fwoorde and keies, unto my princes use,
“ I doo receyve and gladlie take my chardge.
66 It resteth nowe for to reforme abuse,
“We poynt a tyme, of councell more at lardge,

• To treate of which, a whyle we wyll depart.
" Al. Speake. To worke your wyll, we yeelde a wylling hart.

Exeunt." The reader will find the argument of G. Whetstone's Promos and Cassandra, at the end of this play. It is too bulky to be inserted here. See likewise the Piece itself among Six old Plays on which Shakespeare founded, &c. published by S. Leacroft, Charing-cross. STEEVENS. 3 Since I am not to know,-) Old copy,

put to know, Perhaps rightly. Johnson.

I am put to know, may mean, I am obliged to acknowledge.
So in King Henry VI. p. 2. fc. i.

had I firit been put to speak my mind." Again in Drayton's Legend of Pierce Gaveston:

“My limbs were put to travel day and night." STEEVENS. 4-lifts-] Bounds, limits. JOHNSON. So in Othello.

“ Confine yourself within a patient lift." STEVENS.

I hen no more remains, &c.] This is a paffage which has exercised the fagacity of the editors, and is now to employ mine.

• But


[ocr errors]

But that your sufficiency, as your worth is able,
And let them work. The nature of our people,

Then no more remains,
Put that to your fufficiency, as your worth is able,

And let them work. I doubt not, but this passage, either from the impertinence of the actors, or the negligence of the copyists, has come maimed to us, In the first place, what an unmeasurable, inharmonious verse have we here; and then, how lame is the sense! What was Escalus to put to his sufficiency? Why, his frience. But his science and his sufficiency were but one and the same thing. On what then does the relative them depend? The old editions read

thus :

Then no more remains,
But that to your fufficiency, as your worth is able,

And let them work. Here again, the sense is manifestly lame and defective, and as the verlification is fo too, they concur to make me think, a line has accidentally been left out. Perhaps, something like this might supply our author's meaning :

Then no more remains,
But that to your fufficiency you add
Due diligency, as your worth is able,

And let them work. By some fuch supplement both the sense and measure would be cured. But as the conjecture is unsupported by any authorities, I have not pretended to thrust it into the text; but submit it to judgment. They, who are acquainted with books, know, that, where two words of a similar length and termination happen to lie under one another, nothing is more common than for transcribers to glance their eye at once from the first to the undermoft word, and fo leave out the intermediate part of the sentence.

Since I am not to know, that your own science
Exceeds, in that, the lists of all advice
My strength can give you : then no more remains :
Put that to your sufficiency, as your worth is able,

And let them work. To the integrity of this reading Mr. Theobald objects, and says, What was Escalus to put to his sufficiency? why, bis science : But bis science and sufficiency were but one and the same thing. On what then does the relative them depend? He will have it, therefore, that a line has been accidentally dropp’d, which he attempts to restore by due diligency. Nodum in fcirpo quærit. And all for want of knowing, that by fufficiency is meant authority, the power delegated by the duke to Escalus. The plain meaning of the word


B 3


[ocr errors]

Our city's institutions, and the terms
For common justice, you are as pregnant in

As being this: Put your skill in governing (says the duke) to the power which I give you to exercise it, and let them work together.

WARBURTON. Sir Tho. Hanmer, having caught from Mr. Theobald a hint that a line was loft, endeavours to supply it thus.

Then no more remains,
But that to your fufficiency you join

A will to serve us, as your worth is able.
He has by this bold conjecture undoubtedly obtained a mean-
ing, but, perhaps not, even in his own opinion, the meaning
of Shakespeare.

That the passage is more or less corrupt, I believe every rea. der will agree with the editors. I am not convinced that a line is loft, as Mr. Theobald conjectures, nor that the change of but to put, which Dr. Warburton has admitted after some other editor, will amend the fault. There was probably some original obscurity in the expression, which gave occafion to mistake in repetition or transcription. I therefore suspect that the author wrote thus,

Then no more remains,
But that to your fufficiencies your worth is abled,

And let then work.
Then nothing remains more than to tell you, that your virtue is now ina
vested with power equal to your knowledge and wisdom. Let there-
fore your knowledge and your virtue now work together. It may
eafily be conceived how suficiencies was, by an inarticulate speaker,
or inattentive hearer, confounded with sufficiency as, and how abled,
a word very unusual, was changed into able. For abled, however,
an authority is not wanting. Lear uses it in the fame sense, or
nearly the same, with the Duke. As for sufficiencies, D. Hamil-
ton in his dying speech, prays that Charles II. may exceed both the
vi: tu?s and sufficiencies of his father. JOHNSON.

The uncommon redundancy, as well as obscurity, of this verse may be considered as some evidence of its corruption. Take away the two firft words, and the sense joins well enough with what went before. Then (says the duke) no more remains to say:

Your sufficiency as your worth is able,

And let them work. i.e. Your skill in government is in ability to serve me, equal to the integrity of your heart, and let them co-operate in your future ministry.

The verfification requires that either something should be added, or fomething retrenched. The latter is the easier, as well as the safer task. I join in the belief, however, that a line is lost; and whoever is acquainted with the inaccuracy of the folio, (for of this play there is no other old edition) will find my opinion justified.



As art and practice hath enriched any
That we remember : There is our commiffion,
From which we would not have you warp.--Call

I say, bid come before us Angelo.-
What figure of us think you he will bear?
For you must know, we have with special soul?

Elected Some words seem to be lost here, the sense of which, perhaps, may be chus supplied :

then no more remains,
But that to your fufficiency you put
A zeal as willing as your worth is able,
And let them work.


the terms

For common justice, you are as pregnant in,] The later editions all give it, without authority,

-the terms Of justice, and Dr. Warburton makes terms fignify bounds or limits. I rather think the Duke meant to say, that Escalus was pregnant, that is, ready and knowing in all the forms of law, and, among other things, in the terms or times set apart for its adminiftration.

JOHNSON. The word pregnant is used with this fignification in Ram-alley or Merry Tricks 1611, where a lawyer is represented reading :

" In tricessimo primo Alberti Magni

• 'Tis very cleare-the place is very pregnant."
i.e. very expreffive, ready, or very big with meaning.

-the Proof is most pregnant."
Again, The Cruel Brether by Sir W. Davenant, 1630.

my abilities are most pregnant
6. When I find I may be profitable.”

-oh, such a pregnant eye !" STEVENS.

For you must knoru, we have with special soul

Elected bim our absence to fupply; ] This nonsense must be corrected thus,

with special roll i.e. with a special commission. For it appears, from this scene, that Escalus had one commission, and Angelo another. The Duke had before delivered Escalus his commission. He now declares that designed for Angelo; and he says, afterwards, to both,

To the bopeful execution do I leave you
of your commiffions.


« PředchozíPokračovat »