Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

Be perdurably find '?-O Isabel !

Isab. What says my brother?
Claud.

Death is a fearful thing.
ISAB. And shamed life a hateful.
Claud. Ay, but to die, and go we know not

where 4 ;
To lie in cold obstruction, and to rot;
This sensible warm motion to become
A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit'

3 Be PERDURABLY fin’d?] Perdurably is lastingly. So, in Othello :

cables of perdurable toughness." STEVENS. 4 — and go we know not where;) Dryden has imparted this sentiment to his Aureng-Zebe, Act IV. Sc. I.:

“ Death in itself is nothing; but we fear

“ To be we know not what, we know not where.” STEEVENS. s - delighted spirit - ] i. e. the spirit accustomed here to ease and delights. This was properly urged as an aggravation to the sharpness of the torments spoken of. The Oxford editor, not apprehending this, alters it to dilated. As if, because the spirit in the body is said to be imprisoned, it was crouded together likewise; and so by death not only set free, but expanded too; which, if true, would make it the less sensible of pain. WARBURTON.

This reading may perhaps stand, but many attempts have been made to correct it. The most plausible is that which substitutes

the benighted spirit ;” alluding to the darkness always supposed in the place of future punishment. Perhaps we may read :

" -- the delinquent spirit;" a word easily changed to delighted by a bad copier, or unskilful reader. Delinquent is proposed by Thirlby in his manuscript.

Johnsos, I think with Dr. Warburton, that by the delighted spirit is meant, the soul once accustomed to delight, which, of course, must render the sufferings afterwards described, less tolerable. Thus our author calls youth, blessed, in a former scene, before he proceeds to show its wants and its inconveniencies.

Mr. Ritson has furnished me with a passage which I leave to those who can use it for the illustration of the foregoing epithet : “ Sir Thomas Herbert, speaking of the death of Mirza, son to Shah Abbas, says, that he gave a period to his miseries in this world, by supping a delighted cup of extreame poyson.”

Travels, 1634, p. 104. STEevens,

8

To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
In thrilling regions of thick-ribbed ice 6 ';
To be imprison'd in the viewless winds?,
And blown with restless violence round about
The pendent world ; or to be worse than worst
Of those, that lawless and incertain thoughts
Imagine howling !—'tis too horrible !
The weariest and most loathed worldly life,
That age, ach, penury', and imprisonment
Can lay on nature, is a paradise
To what we fear of death .

6

7

- thick-ribbed ice.] Jonson has a similar expression in his Catiline, Act I. Sc. IV. “We're spirits bound in ribs of ice.” The Essenes, a Jewish sect, believed that the wicked went to a dark and cold place. Prideaux, ad ann. 107. Our author again returns to the various destinations of the disembodied spirit, in that pathetic speech of Othello in the fifth Act. Milton seems to have had Shakspeare before him when he wrote the second book of Paradise Lost, 595-603. BLAKEWAY.

— VIEWLESS winds,] i. e. unseen, invisible. So, in Milton's Comus, v. 92:

“- - I must be viewless now." STEEVENS. 8 — lawless and incertain thoughts —] Conjecture sent out to wander without any certain direction, and ranging through possibilities of pain. Johnson.

9 - penury,) The old copy has-perjury. Corrected by the editor of the second folio. MALONE.

" To what we fear of death.] Most certainly the idea of the “ spirit bathing in fiery foods," or of residing“ in thrilling regions of thick-ribbed ice,” is not original to our poet; but I am not sure that they came from the Platonick hell of Virgil. The monks also had their hot and their cold hell : “the fyrste is fyre that ever brenneth, and never gyveth lighte," says an old homily:“ The seconde is passyng cold, that yf a greate hylle of fyre were cast therin, it shold torne to vce.” One of their legends, well remembered in the time of Shakspeare, gives us a dialogue between a bishop and a soul tormented in a piece of ice, which was brought to cure a brenning heate in his foote; take care, that you do not interpret this the gout, for I remember Menage quotes a canon upon us :

“Si quis dixerit episcopum podagrá laborare, anathema sit.” Another tells us of the soul of a monk fastened to a rock, which the winds were to blow about for a twelvemonth, and purge of its

ISAB. Alas! alas!
CLAUD.

Sweet sister, let me live:
What sin you do to save a brother's life,
Nature dispenses with the deed so far,
That it becomes a virtue.
ISAB.

O, you beast !
O, faithless coward ! O, dishonest wretch !
Wilt thou be made a man out of my vice ?
Is't not a kind of incest ', to take life
From thine own sister's shame? What should I

think? Heaven shield, my mother play'd my father fair ! For such a warped slip of wilderness 2

enormities. Indeed this doctrine was before now introduced into poetick fiction, as you may see in a poem, " where the lover declareth his pains to exceed far the pains of hell," among the many miscellaneous ones subjoined to the works of Surrey : of which you will soon have a beautiful edition from the able hand of my friend Dr. Percy. Nay, a very learned and inquisitive brother-antiquary hath observed to me, on the authority of Blefkenius, that this was the ancient opinion of the inhabitants of Iceland, who were certainly very little read either in the poet or philosopher. FARMER.

T'he edition of Lord Surrey's works mentioned by Dr. Farmer in the preceding note was never published, but the task has since been executed by the able hand of Dr. Nott. Boswell.

Lazarus, in The Shepherd's Calendar, is represented to have seen these particular modes of punishment in the infernal regions :

“ Secondly, I have seen in hell a floud frozen as ice, wherein the envious men and women were plunged unto the navel, and then suddainly came over them a right cold and great wind that grieved and pained them right sore," &c. STEEVENS.

• Is't not a kind of incest,] In Isabella's declamation there is something harsh and something forced and far-fetched. But her indignation cannot be thought violent, when we consider her not only as a virgin, but as a nun. Johnson.

- a warped slip of wilderness —] Wilderness is here used for wildness, the state of being disorderly. So, in The Maid's Tragedy :

“ And throws an unknown wilderness about me." Again, in Old Fortunatus, 1600

“ But I in wilderness totter'd out my youth."

2

Ne'er issu'd from his blood. Take my defiance ? :
Die; perish! might but my bending down
Reprieve thee from thy fate, it should proceed:
I'll pray a thousand prayers for thy death,
No word to save thee.

Claud. Nay, Hear me, Isabel.
ISAB.

O, fye, fye, fye!
Thy sin's not accidental, but a trade 4 :
Mercy to thee would prove itself a bawd :
'Tis best that thou diest quickly.

[Going. Claud.

O hear me, Isabella.

Re-enter Duke. Duke. Vouchsafe a word, young sister, but one word.

Isab. What is your will ?

Duke. Might you dispense with your leisure, I would by and by have some speech with you: the satisfaction I would require, is likewise your own benefit.

Isab. I have no superfluous leisure; my stay must be stolen out of other affairs; but I will attend you a while.

Duke. (To Claudio, aside.] Son, I have overheard what hath past between you and your sister. Angelo had never the purpose to corrupt her ; only he hath made an essay of her virtue, to practice his judgment with the disposition of natures: she, hav

The word, in this sense, is now obsolete, though employed by Milton :

“ The paths, and bowers, doubt not, but our joint hands

“Will keep from wilderness with ease.” Steevens. 3 Take my defiance :] Defiance is refusal. So, in Romeo and Juliet :

I do defy thy commiseration.” Steevens. <- but a Trade :] A custom, a practice; an established habit. So we say of a man much addicted to any thing-he makes a trade of it. JOHNSON.

ing the truth of honour in her, hath made him that gracious denial which he is most glad to receive: I am confessor to Angelo, and I know this to be true; therefore prepare yourself to death: Do not satisfy your resolution with hopes that are fallibles: tomorrow you must die ; go to your knees, and make ready.

Claud. Let me ask my sister pardon. I am so out of love with life, that I will sue to be rid of it. DUKE. Hold you thereo: farewell. .

[Exit CLAUDIO. Re-enter Provost. Provost, a word with you.

Prov. What's your will, father ?

Duke. That now you are come, you will be gone : Leave me a while with the maid; my mind promises with my habit, no loss shall touch her by my company.

5 Do not satisfy your resolution with hopes that are fallible:] A condemned man, whom his confessor had brought to bear death with decency and resolution, began anew to entertain hopes of life. This occasioned the advice in the words above. But how did these hopes satisfy his resolution ? or what harm was there, if they did ? We must certainly read, Do not falsify your resolution with hopes that are fallible. And then it becomes a reasonable admonition. For hopes of life by drawing him back into the world, would naturally elude or weaken the virtue of that resolution which was raised only on motives of religion. And this his confessor had reason to warn him of. The term falsify is taken from fencing, and signifies the pretending to aim a stroke, in order to draw the adversary off his guard. So, Fairfax : “Now strikes he out, and now he falsifieth."

WARBURTON. The sense is this :-Do not rest with satisfaction on hopes that are fallible. There is no need of alteration. STBevens.

Perhaps the meaning is, Do not satisfy or content yourself with that kind of resolution, which acquires strength from a latent hope that it will not be put to the test'; a hope that, in your case, if you rely upon it, will deceive you. Malone. 6 Hold you there :) Continue in that resolution.

Johnson.

« ZurückWeiter »