Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

Clock to itself, knew the true minute when
Exception bid him speak, and, at this time,
His tongue obey'd his hand': who were below him,
He us’d as creatures of another place?;
And bow'd his eminent top to their low ranks,
Making them proud of his humility,
In their poor praise he humbled ': Such a man

“More nor less to others paying,

“ Than by self-offences weighing." The old text needs to be explained. He was so like a courtier, that there was in “his dignity of manner nothing contemptuous, and in his keenness of wit nothing bitter.” If bitterness or contemptuousness ever appeared, they had been awakened by some injury, not of a man below him, but of his equal. This is the complete image of a well-bred man, and somewhat like this Voltaire has exhibited his hero, Lewis XIV. Johnson.

1 His tongue obey'd his hand :7 We should read—“ His tongue obey'd the hand." That is, “ the hand of his honour's clock,” showing “ the true minute when exceptions bad him speak.” Johnson. His is put for its. So, in Othello : .

- her motion

“ Blush'd at herself.-instead of itself. STEEVENS. ? He us’d as creatures of another place;] i. e. he made allowances for their conduct, and bore from them what he would not from one of his own rank. The Oxford editor, not understanding the sense, has altered another place to a brother-race.

WARBURTON, I doubt whether this was our author's meaning. I rather incline to think that he meant only, “ that the father of Bertram treated those below him with becoming condescension, as creatures not indeed in so high a place as himself, but yet holding a certain place; as one of the links, though not the largest, of the great chain of society.”

In The Winter's Tale, place is again used for rank or situation in life :

O thou thing, “ Which I'll not call a creature of thy place.” Malone. 3 Making them proud of his humility,

In their poor praise he humbled :] But why were they proud of his humility? It should be read and pointed thus :

“Making them proud ; and his humility,

- In their poor praise, he humbled ." i. e. by condescending to stoop to his inferiors, he exalted them

Might be a copy to these younger times;
Which, follow'd well, would démonstrate them now
But goers backward.
BER.

His good remembrance, sir, Lies richer in your thoughts, than on his tomb; So in approof lives not his epitaph, As in your royal speech *. and made them proud ; and, in the gracious receiving their poor praise, he humbled even his humility. The sentiment is fine.

WARBURTON. Every man has seen the mean too often proud of the humility of the great, and perhaps the great may sometimes be humbled in the praises of the mean, of those who commend them without conviction or discernment: this, however, is not so common; the mean are found more frequently than the great.

Johnson. I think the meaning is,-“Making them proud of receiving such marks of condescension and affability from a person in so elevated a situation, and at the same time lowering or humbling himself, by stooping to accept of the encomiums of mean persons for that humility.” The construction seems to be," he being humbled in their poor praise.” MALONE.

Giving them a better opinion of their own importance, by his condescending manner of behaving to them. M. Mason.

So in approof lives not his EPITAPH,
As in your royal speech.] Epitaph for character.

WARBURTON.
I should wish to read

“ Approof so lives not in his epitaph,

“ As in your royal speech.” Approof is approbation. If I should allow Dr. Warburton's interpretation of epitaph, which is more than can be reasonably. expected, I can yet find no sense in the present reading.

INSON.

We might, by a slight transposition, read

“So his approof lives not in epitaph.” Approof certainly means approbation. So, in Cynthia’s Revenge :

“ A man so absolute in my approof,
“ That nature hath reserv'd small dignity

“ That he enjoys not.”
Again, in Measure for Measure :

“ Either of commendation or approof.” Steevens. Perhaps the meaning is this :-“ His epitaph or inscription on

King. 'Would, I were with him! He would

always say, (Methinks, I hear him now; his plausive words He scatter'd not in ears, but grafted them, To grow there, and to bear,)-Let me not live,-Thus - his good melancholy oft began, On the catastrophe and heel of pastime, When it was out,,let me not live, quoth he, After my flame lacks oil, to be the snuff Of younger spirits, whose apprehensive senses All but new things disdain ; whose judgments are Mere fathers of their garments; whose constan

cies

his tomb is not so much in approbation or commendation of him, as is your royal speech." TOLLET.

There can be no doubt but the word approof is frequently used in the sense of approbation, but this is not always the case; and in this place it signifies proof or confirmation. The meaning of the passage appears to be this : “ 'The truth of his epitaph is in no way so fully proved, as by your royal speech. It is needless to remark, that epitaphs generally contain the character and praises of the deceased. Approof is used in the same sense by Bertram, in the second Act :

Laf. But I hope your lordship thinks him not a soldier. Ber. Yes, my lord, and of very valiant approof.

M. Mason. Mr. Heath supposes the meaning to be this : “ His epitaph, or the character he left behind him, is not so well established by the specimens he exhibited of his worth, as by your royal report in his favour.” The passage above quoted from Act II. supports this interpretation. MalOnE. 5 Thus -] Old copy-This. Corrected by Mr. Pope.

MALONE. 6 — whose judgments are

Mere FATHERS of their garments ;] Who have no other use of their faculties, than to invent new modes of dress. Johnson,

I have a suspicion that Shakspeare wrote-“ Mere feathers of their garments;" i. e. whose judgments are merely parts (and insignificant parts) of their dress, worn and laid aside, as feathers are, from the mere love of novelty and change. He goes on to say, that they are even less constant in their judgments than in their dress :

Expire before their fashions :--This he wish'd :
I, after him, do after him wish too,
Since I nor wax, nor honey, can bring home,
I quickly were dissolved from my hive,
To give some labourers room.
2 LORD.

You are lov’d, sir; They, that least lend it you, shall lack you first. King. I fill a place, I know't. How long is't,

count,
Since the physician at your father's died ?
He was much fam'd.
BER.

Some six months since, my lord.
King. If he were living, I would try him yet;-
Lend me an arm ;-the rest have worn me out
With several applications :-nature and sickness
Debate it? at their leisure. Welcome, count;
My son's no dearer.
BER.

Thank your majesty.

[Exeunt. Flourish.

uch fam'dime six montud try him

[ocr errors]

their constancies “ Expire before their fashions." TYRWHITT. The reading of the old copy-fathers, is supported by a similar passage in Cymbeline :

- some jay of Italy

“Whose mother was her painting—". Again, in the same play:

- No, nor thy tailor, rascal,
“ Who is thy grandfather; he made those clothes,

“ Which, as it seems, make thee." There the garment is said to be the father of the man :-in the text, the judgment, being employed solely in forming or giving birth to new dresses, is called the father of the garment. So, in King Henry IV. Part II. :

“ - every minute now

“ Should be the father of some stratagem.” Malone. 7 - nature and sickness

Debate it -] So, in Macbeth :
“ Death and nature do contend about them.” Steevens.

1

SCENE III.

Rousillon. A Room in the Countess's Palace.

Enter Countess, Steward, and Clown 8. Count. I will now hear: what say you of this gentlewoman?

8 — Steward, and Clown.] A Clown in Shakspeare is commonly taken for a licensed jester, or domestick fool. We are not to wonder that we find this character often in his plays, since fools were at that time maintained in all great families, to keep up merriment in the house. In the picture of Sir Thomas More's family, by Hans Holbein, the only servant represented is Patison the fool. This is a proof of the familiarity to which they were admitted, not by the great only, but the wise.

In some plays, a servant, or a rustic, of a remarkable petulance and freedom of speech, is likewise called a clown. Johnson.

Cardinal Wolsey, after his disgrace, wishing to show King Henry VIII. a mark of his respect, sent him his fool Patch, as a present; whom, says Stowe, “the King received very gladly."

MALONE. This dialogue, or that in Twelfth-Night, between Olivia and the Clown, seems to have been particularly censured by Cartwright, in one of the copies of verses prefixed to the works of Beaumont and Fletcher :

Shakspeare to thee was dull, whose best jest lies
“ ['th' lady's questions, and the fool's replies;
" Old fashion'd wit, which walk'd from town to town

“ In trunk-hose, which our fathers call the Clown.In the MS. Register of Lord Stanhope of Harrington, treasurer of the chamber to King James I. from 1613 to 1616, are the following entries : “ Tom Derry, his majesty's fool, at 2s. per diem,-1615: Paid John Mawe for the diet and lodging of Thomas Derrie, her majesty's jester, for 13 weeks, 101. 18s. 60.1616.” Steevens.

The following lines in The Careless Shepherdess, a comedy, 1656, exhibit probably a faithful portrait of this once admired character :

“ Why, I would have the fool in every act,
“Be it comedy or tragedy. I have laugh'd
“ Untill I cry'd again, to see what faces
“ The rogue will make.---0, it does me good

« ForrigeFortsett »