Sidor som bilder

Thinking to bar thee of succession, as
Thou reft'st me of my lands. Euriphile,
Thou wast their nurse; they took thee for their mother,
And every day do honour to her gravel2:
Myself, Belarius, that am Morgan call’d,
They take for natural father. The game is up.


SCENE IV. Near Milford Haven.


Imo. Thou told’st me, when we came from horse,

the place Was near at hand:-Ne'er long'd my mother so To see me first, as I have now:- Pisanio! Man! Where is Posthumus?? What is in thy mind, That makes thee stare thus? Wherefore breaks

that sigh From the inward of thee? One, but painted thus, Would be interpreted a thing perplex'd Beyond self-explication: Put thyself Into a haviour of less fear, ere wildness Vanquish my staider senses. What's the matter? Why tender'st thou that paper to me, with A look untender? If it be summer news, Smile to't before: if winterly, thou need'st

father of heirs. The latter part of this soliloquy is very inartificial, there being no particular reason why Belarius should now tell to himself what he could not know better by telling it.

JOHNSON 12 i. e. to the grave of Euriphile; or to the grave of their mother,' as they supposed it to be. The grammatical construction requires that the poet should have written to thy grave;' but we bave frequent instances of this change of persons not only in Shakspeare, but in all the writings of his age

I The true pronunciation of Greek and Latin names much regarded by the writers of Shakspeare's age, The poet hus, however, differed from himself, and given the true pronunciation when the name first occurs, and in one other place :

• To bis protection ; call him Posthumus.'
'Struck the maintop! 0, Posthumus ! alas.'

was not

But keep that countenance still. — My husband's

hand! That drug-damn'd Italy hath out-craftied him, And he's at some hard point.--Speak, man; thy

May take off some extremity, which to read
Would be even mortal to me.

Please you, read; And you shall find me, wretched man, a thing The most disdain’d of fortune.

Imo. [Reads. ] Thy mistress, Pisanio, hath played the strumpet in my bed; the testimonies whereof lie bleeding in me. I speak not out of weak surmises; from proof as strong as my grief, and as certain as I expect my revenge. That part, thou, Pisanio, must act for me, if thy faith be not tainted with the breach of hers. Let thine own hands take away her life: I shall give thee opportunities at Milford Haven: she hath my letter for the purpose; Where, if thou fear to strike, and to make me certain it is done, thou art the pander to her dishonour, and equally to me disloyal. Pis. What shall I need to draw my sword? the

paper Hath cut her throat already. - No, 'tis slander; Whose edge is sharper than the sword; whose tongue Outvenoms all the worms2 of Nile; whose breath Rides on the posting winds, and doth belie All corners of the world: kings, queens, and states), Maids, matrons, nay, the secrets of the grave This viperous slander enters.-- What cheer, madam?

Inno. False to his bed! What is, it, to be false ? To lie in watch there, and to think on him ? To weep 'twixt clock and clock? if sleep charge


2 It has already been observed that worm was the general name for all the serpent kind. See Antony and Cleopatra, Act v. Sc. 2, pote 31.

3 i. e. persons of the highest rank.

To break it with a fearful dream of him,
And cry myself awake? that's false to his bed ?
Is it?

Pis. Alas, good lady!

Imo. I false? Thy conscience witness :-lachimo, Thou didst accuse him of incontinency; Thou then look’dst like a villain; now, methinks, Thy favour's good enough.-Some jay of Italy, Whose mother was her painting 4, hath betray'd him: Poor I am stale, a garment out of fashion; And, for I am richer than to hang by the walls5, I must be ripp'd :-to pieces with me!-0, Men's vows are women's traitors! All good seeming, By thy revolt, 0 husband, shall be thought Put on for villainy; not born, where't grows; But worn, a bait for ladies. Pis.

Good madam, hear me. Imo. True honest men being heard, like false

Æneas, Were, in his time, thought false : and Sinon's weeping

4 Putta, in Italian, signifies both a jay and a whore. We have the word again in The Merry Wives of Windsor :- Teach him to know turtle from jays. See vol. i. p.

223. • Some jay of Italy, whose mother was her painting, i. e. made by art; the creature not of nature but of painting. In this sense painting may be said to be her mother. Sieevens met with a similar phrase in some old play:- A parcel of conceited feather-caps, whose fathers were their garments.'

5 That is to be hung up as useless among the neglected contents of a wardrobe. So in Measure for Measure :

• That have, like unscour'd armour, hung by the wall.' Clothes were not formerly, as at present, made of slight materials, were not kept in drawers, or given away as soon as lapse of time or change of fashion had impaired their value. On the contrary, they were hung up on wooden pegs, in a room appropriated to the sole purpose of receiving them; and though such cast off things as were composed of rich substances were occasionally ripped for domestic uses, articles of inferior quality were suffered to hang by the walls till age and moths had destroyed what pride would not permit to be worn by servants or poor relations :

• Comirem horridulum trità donare lacerna,' seems not to have been customary among our ancestors. When Queen Elizabeth died, she was found to have left above three thousand dresses behind her. Steevens once saw one of these repositories at an ancient mansion in Suffolk, which ( thanks to a cession of old maids!) had been preserved with superstitious rererence for almost a century and a half.


[ocr errors][merged small]

Did scandal many a holy tear: took pity
From most true wretchedness: So, thou, Posthumus,
Wilt lay the leaven on all proper mene;
Goodly, and gallant, shall be false and perjur'd,
From thy great fail.-- Come, fellow, be thou honest:
Do thou thy master's bidding: when thou seest him,
A little witness my obedience: Look!
I draw the sword myself: take it; and hit
The innocent mansion of my love, my heart:
Fear not: 'tis empty of all things, but grief:
Thy master is not there; who was, indeed,
The riches of it: Do his bidding; strike.
Thou may'st be valiant in a better cause;
But now thou seem'st a coward.

Hence, vile instrument!
Thou shalt not damn my hand.

Why, I must die;
And if I do not by thy hand, thou art
No servant of thy master's: Against self-slaughter
There is a prohibition so divine,
That cravens my weak hand?. Come, here's my

inter Something's afore't: --Soft, soft; we'll no defence;

Obedient as the scabbard.- What is here?
The scriptures of the loyal Leonatus,
All turn'd to heresy? Away, away,
Corrupters of my faith! you shall no more
Be stomachers to my heart! Thus may poor fools
Believe false teachers: Though those that are be-



Wilt lay the leaven on all proper men.'
The leaven is, in Scripture phraseology, the whole wickedness
of our sinful nature.' See 1 Corinthians, v. 6, 7, 8. “Thy failure,
Posthumus, will lay falsehood to the charge of men without guile :
make all suspected.

7. That makes me afraid to put an end to my own life.' Hamlet exclaims :

O that the Everlasting had not fix'd

His canon 'gainst self slaughter.' 8 Shakspeare here means Leonatus's letters, but there

is an opposition intended between scripture, in its common signification, and heresy.

Do feel the treason sharply, yet the traitor
Stands in worse case of woe.
And thou, Posthumus, thou that didst set up
My disobedience 'gainst the king my father,
And make me put into contempt the suits
of princely fellows', shalt hereafter find
It is no act of common passage, but
A strain of rareness: and I grieve myself,
To think, when thou shalt be disedg'd by her
That now thou tir'st10 on, how thy memory
Will then be pang'd by me.-Pr'ythee, despatch:
The lamb entreats the butcher: Where's thy knife ?
Thou art too slow to do thy master's bidding,
When I desire it too.

O gracious lady,
Since I receiv'd command to do this business,
I have not slept one wink.

Do't, and to bed then.
Pis. I'll wake mine eyeballs blind first11,

Wherefore then Didst undertake it? Why hast thou abus'd So many miles with a pretence ? this place ? Mine action, and thine own? our horses' labour ? The time inviting thee? the perturb'd court, For my being absent; whereunto I never Purpose return? Why hast thou gone so far, To be unbent12, when thou hast ta'en thy stand, The elected deer before thee?


[ocr errors]

9 Fellows for equals; those of the same princely rank with myself.

-when thou shalt be disedg'd by her

That now thou tir'st on.' It is probable that the first, as well as the last, of these metaphorical expressions is from falconry. A bird of prey inay be said to be disedyed when the keenness of its appetite is taken away by tiring, or feeding, upon some object given to it for that purpose. Thus in Hamlet :

Oph. You are keen, my lord, you are keen. Ham. It would cost you a groaning to take off mine edge. 11 Blind, which is not in the old copy, was supplied by Hanmer.

12 To have thy bow unbent, alluding to a hunter. So in one of Shakspeare's poems in The Passionate Pilgrim, 1599:

• When as thine eye hath chose the dame
And stall'd the deer that thou shouldst strike.'

« FöregåendeFortsätt »