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"And the lark from out the furrow,
And at the gate of heaven sings.”
Penshurst. In Dodsley's collection, vol. iv.
Sc. 4. p. 88.
The roof o' the chamber
Mr. Steevens calls the golden cherubims a tawdry image, and proceeds, justly enough, to ridicule an idle representation of the heavenly choirs; but the poet must be cleared from any imputation of blame. He is not accountable for the fashions or follies of his age, and has, in this instance, given a faithful description of the mode in which the rooms in great houses were sometimes ornamented. That brands were those parts of the andirons which supported the wood, ac cording to Mr. Whalley, remains to be proved. The Cupids would not lean or hang over these bars, but rather stand with their faces turned from them, and opposite to the spectator. The brands are more likely to have been the inverted torches mentioned by Mr. Steevens.
Sc. 5. p. 94.
POST. Me of my lawful pleasure she restrain'd,
With a pudency so rosy, &c.
A useless note on this speech, which would make our poet equally vulgar and obscene, when he was expressing a sentiment of the most refined delicacy, may be well dispensed with in any fu
Scene 1. Page 99.
CYM. Our ancestor was that Mulmutius, which
Ordain'd our laws
Who was the first of Britain, &c.
The judicious and necessary omission of the words "made our laws," after the second Mulmutius, originally belongs to Sir Thomas Hanmer, who would have deserved more thanks from his readers for his regulations of Shakspeare's metre, if they had not been too frequently made without a proper regard to the accuracy of the text.
Sc. 1. p. 100.
CYM. Thy Cæsar knighted me.
Although our old writers frequently make mention of Roman knights, that is, military chieftains, it is very much to be apprehended that the present expression must be regarded as a downright anachronism, as well as another similar passage in p. 213, where Cymbeline addresses Belarius and his sons: "Bow your knees; arise, my knights of the battle, &c." The word knight was formerly used with great latitude. Dr. Bullein calls Dioscorides "that olde famous Egyptian knyghte."
Sc. 2. p. 105.
IMO. (Some griefs are med'cinable;) that is one of them, For it doth physick love ;—
The whole of this should be included in the parenthesis, as in Mr. Malone's edition. No reason has been assigned by Mr. Steevens for the variation, which may be an error of the press.
Sc. 3. p. 117.
Thou wast their nurse
The above name might have been borrowed
from the story of Amphiaraus and Eriphile, in Pettie's Petite palace, 1598, 4to.
Outvenoms all the worms of Nile.
So in the anonymous play of Wily beguilde, "Whose tongue more venom than the serpent's sting." It is difficult to say which is the imitation.
Scene 2. Page 154.
GUI. But his neat cookery.
This speech has exercised the talents of a certain ingenious female illustrator of Shakspeare, who has endeavoured to ridicule the character of Imogen, and indeed the whole of the play. She degrades our heroine into a mere kitchen wench, and adverts to what she calls her economical education. Now what is this but to expose her own ignorance of ancient manners? If she had missed the advantage of qualifying herself as a commentator on Shakspeare's plots by a perusal
of our old romances, she ought at least to have remembered, what every well informed woman of the present age is acquainted with, the education of the princesses in Homer's Odyssey. It is idle to attempt to judge of ancient simplicity by a mere knowledge of modern manners; and such fastidious critics had better close the book of Shakspeare for ever. In another part of her critique on this play, she condemns the giving of the drug to Imogen which Pisanio had received from the queen, from an idea that he was sufficiently warned of its soporific quality; and she positively states that the physician had, by a whisper, informed Pisanio of its property; not one word of which is to be found in Shakspeare. So much for the criticism and accuracy of a work to which Dr. Johnson condescended to write a dedication. He has likewise too often confided in its opinions in the course of several of his remarks on Shakspeare's plays.