Page images

Shep. Why, boy, how is it?

Clo. I would, you did but see how it chafes, how it rages, how it takes up the shore! but that's not to the point: O, the most piteous cry of the poor souls! sometimes to see 'em, and not to see 'em: now the ship boring the moon with her main-mast; and anon swallowed with yest and froth, as you'd thrust a cork into a hogshead. And then for the land service,-To see how the bear tore out his shoulder-bone; how he cried to me for help, and said, his name was Antigonus, a nobleman :But to make an end of the ship:-to see how the sea flap-dragoned it: 8-but, first, how the poor souls roared, and the sea mocked them;-and how the poor gentleman roared, and the bear mocked him, both roaring louder than the sea, or weather.

Shep. 'Name of mercy, when was this, boy?

Clo. Now, now; I have not winked since I saw these sights: the men are not yet cold under water, nor the bear half dined on the gentleman; he 's at it now.

Shep. Would I had been by, to have helped the old man! 9

[ocr errors]

7 - now the ship boring the moon with her main-mast;] So, in Pericles: "But sea-room, and the brine and cloudy billow kiss the moon, I care not." Malone.


flap-dragoned it:] i. e. swallowed it, as our ancient topers swallowed flap-dragons. So, in Love's Labour's Lost: "Thou art easier swallowed than a flap-dragon." See note on King Henry IV, P. II, Act II, sc. iv. Steevens.

9 Shep. Would I had been by, to have helped the old man!] Though all the printed copies concur in this reading, I am persuaded, we ought to restore, nobleman. The Shepherd knew nothing of Antigonus's age; besides, the Clown hath just told his father, that he said his name was Antigonus, a nobleman; and no less than three times in this short scene, the Clown, speaking of him calls him the gentleman. Theobald.

I suppose the Shepherd infers the age of Antigonus from his inability to defend himself; or perhaps Shakspeare, who was conscious that he himself designed Antigonus for an old man, has inadvertently given this knowledge to the Shepherd who had never seen him. Steevens.

Perhaps the word old was inadvertently omitted in the preceding speech: "nor the bear half dined on the old gentleman;" Mr. Steevens's second conjecture, however, is, I believe, the true one. Malone.

Clo. I would you had been by the ship side, to have helped her; there your charity would have lacked footing. [Aside.

Shep. Heavy matters! heavy matters! but look thee here, boy. Now bless thyself; thou net'st with things dying, I with things new born. Here's a sight for thee; look thee, a bearing-cloth1 for a squire's child! Look thee here; take up, take up, boy; open 't. So, let's see;-It was told me, I should be rich by the fairies: this is some changeling: 2-open 't: What's within, boy?

Clo. You 're a made old man;3 if the sins of your youth are forgiven you, you 're well to live. Gold! all gold!

Shep. This is fairy gold, boy, and 'twill prove so: up with it, keep it close; home, home, the next way. We are lucky, boy; and to be so still, requires nothing but secrecy-Let my sheep go:-Come, good boy, the next way home.

1- a bearing-cloth ·] A bearing-cloth is the fine mantle or cloth with which a child is usually covered, when it is carried to the church to be baptized. Percy.


some changeling] i. e. some child left behind by the fairies, in the room of one which they had stolen.

So, in A Midsummer Night's Dream:

"A lovely boy, stol'n from an Indian king;
"She never had so sweet a changeling."


You're a made old man;] In former copies:-You're a mad old man; if the sins of your youth are forgiven you, you're well to live. Gold! all gold! This the Clown says upon his opening his far. del, and discovering the wealth in it. But this is no reason why he should call his father a mad old man. I have ventured to cor rect in the text-You're a made old man; i. e. your fortune's made by this adventitious treasure. So our poet, in a number of other passages. Theobald.

Dr. Warburton did not accept this emendation, but it is certainly right. The word is borrowed from the novel: "The good man desired his wife to be quiet; if she would hold peace, they were made for ever." Farmer.

So, in the ancient ballad of Robin Hood and the Tinker: "I have a warrand from the king,

"To take him where I can;

"If you can tell me where hee is,

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

the next way.] i. e. the nearest way. So, in King Henry IV, P. I: ""Tis the next way to turn tailor, or be redbreast teacher." Steevens,


Clo. Go you the next way with your findings; I'll g see if the bear be gone from the gentleman, and how much he hath eaten: they are never curst, but when they are hungry:5 if there be any of him left, I'll bury it.

Shep. That's a good deed: If thou may'st discern by that which is left of him, what he is, fetch me to the sight of him.

Clo. Marry, will I; and you shall help to put him i' the ground.

Shep. 'Tis a lucky day, boy; and we 'll do good deeds on 't. [Exeunt.


Enter Time, as Chorus.

Time. I, that please some, try all; both joy, and terror,

Of good and bad; that make, and unfold error,6.
Now take upon me,
To use my wings.
To me, or my swift


in the name of Time,
Impute it not a crime,
passage, that I slide

O'er sixteen years, and leave the growth untried

3 they are never curst, but when they are hungry:] Curst, signifies mischievous. Thus the adage: "Curst cows have short horns." Henley.


that make, and unfold error,] This does not, in my opinion, take in the poet's thought. Time does not make mistakes, and discover them, at different conjunctures; but the poet means, that Time often for a season covers errors, which he af terwards displays and brings to light. I chuse therefore to read: "6 that mask and unfold error, Theobald. Theobald's emendation is surely unnecessary. Departed time renders many facts obscure, and in that sense is the cause of er. ror. Time to come brings discoveries with it.


"These very comments on Shakspeare (says Mr. M. Mason) prove that time can both make and unfold error." Steevens.

[blocks in formation]

O'er sixteen years.] This trespass, in respect of dramatic unity, will appear venial to those who have read the once famous Lyly's Endymion, or (as he himself calls it in the prologue) his Man in the Moon. This author was applauded and very liberally paid by Queen Elizabeth. Two acts of his piece comprize the

Of that wide gap;
To o'erthrow law,


since it is in my power

and in one self-born hour

space of forty years, Endymion lying down to sleep at the end of the second, and waking in the first scene of the fifth, after a nap of that unconscionable length. Lyly has likewise been guilty of much greater absurdities than ever Shakspeare committed; for he supposes that Endymion's hair, features, and person, were changed by age during his sleep, while all the other personages of the drama remained without alteration.

George Whetstone, in the epistle dedicatory, before his Promos and Cassandra, 1578, (on the plan of which Measure for Measure is formed) had pointed out many of these absurdities and offences against the laws of the Drama. It must be owned, therefore, that Shakspeare has not fallen into them through ignorance of what they were: "For at this daye, the Italian is so lascivious in his comedies, that honest hearts are grieved at his actions. The Frenchman and Spaniard follow the Italian's humour. The German is too holy; for he presents on everye common stage, what preachers should pronounce in pulpits. The Englishman in this quallitie, is most vaine, indiscreete, and out of order. He first grounds his worke on impossibilities: then in three houres ronnes he throwe the worlde: marryes, gets children, makes children men, men to conquer kingdomes, murder monsters, and bringeth goddes from heaven, and fetcheth devils from hell," &c. This quotation will serve to show that our poet might have enjoyed the benefit of literary laws, but, like Achilles, denied that laws were designed to operate on beings confident of their own powers, and secure of graces beyond the reach of art. Steevens.

In The pleasant Comedie of Patient Grissel, 1603, written by Thomas Decker, Henry Chettle, and William Haughton, Grissel is in the first Act married, and soon afterwards brought to bed of twins, a son and a daughter; and the daughter in the fifth Act is produced on the scene as a woman old enough to be married. Malone.


and leave the growth untried

Of that wide gap;] Our author attends more to his ideas than to his words. The growth of the wide gap, is somewhat irregular; but he means, the growth, or progression of the time which filled up the gap of the story between Perdita's birth and her sixteenth year. To leave this growth untried, is to leave the passages of the intermediate years unnoted and unexamined. Untried is not, perhaps, the word which he would have chosen, but which his rhyme required. Johnson.

Dr. Johnson's explanation of growth is confirmed by a subsequent passage:

"I turn my glass; and give my scene such growing,
"As you had slept between."

Again, in Pericles, Prince of Tyre:

[blocks in formation]

To plant and o'erwhelm custom: Let me pass
The same I am, ere ancient'st order was,

Or what is now received: I witness to

The times that brought them in; so shall I do
To the freshest things now reigning; and make stale
The glistering of this present, as my tale

Now seems to it. Your patience this allowing,
I turn my glass; and give my scene such growing,
As you had slept between. Leontes leaving
The effects of his fond jealousies; so grieving,
That he shuts up himself; imagine me,
Gentle spectators, that I now may be

In fair Bohemia;1 and remember well,

I mentioned a son o' the king's, which Florizel
I now name to you; and with speed so pace
To speak of Perdita, now grown in grace
Equal with wond'ring: What of her ensues,
I list not prophecy; but let Time's news

[blocks in formation]

Gap, the reading of the original copy, which Dr. Warburton changed to gulf, is likewise supported by the same play, in which old Gower, who appears as Chorus, says:

[ocr errors]


learn of me, who stand i' the gaps to teach you "The stages of our story." Malone.

since it is in my power &c.] The reasoning of Time is not very clear; he seems to mean, that he who has broke so many laws may now break another; that he who introduced every thing, may introduce Perdita in her sixteenth year; and he intreats that he may pass as of old, before any order or succession of objects, ancient or modern, distinguished his periods.

[blocks in formation]

Gentle spectators, that I now may be


In fair Bohemia;] Time is every where alike. I know not whether both sense and grammar may not dictate:

imagine we

Gentle spectators, that you now may be, &c.

Let us imagine that you, who behold these scenes, are now in Bohemia. Johnson.

Imagine me, means imagine with me, or imagine for me; and is a common mode of expression. Thus we say "do me such a thing," -"spell me such a word." In King Henry IV, Falstaff says, speaking of sack:

"It ascends me into the brain, dries me there," &c. Again, in King Lear, Gloster says to Edmund, speaking of Edgar : "Wind me into him," &c. M. Mason.

« EelmineJätka »