Imágenes de páginas

By his best arrow with the golden head;
By the fimplicity of Venus' doves;

By that which knitteth fouls, and profpers loves;
And by that fire which burn'd the Carthage queen*,
When the falfe Trojan under fail was feen;
By all the vows that ever men have broke,
In number more than ever women spoke ;-
In that fame place thou haft appointed me,
To-morrow truly will I meet with thee.

Lyf. Keep promife, love: Look, here comes Helena.

In that fame place thou haft appointed me,
To-morrow truly will I meet with thee.]

Lyfander does but juft propofe her running away from her father at midnight, and straight she is at her oaths that the will meet him at the place of rendezvous. Not one doubt or hesitation, not one condition of affurance for Lyfander's conftancy. Either she was naufeoufly coming, or fhe had before jilted him, and he could not believe her without a thousand oaths. But Shakspeare obferved nature at another rate. The fpeeches are divided wrong, and must be thus rectified; when Lyfander had proposed her running away with him, the replies:

Her. My good Lyjander

and is going on, to afk fecurity for his fidelity. This he perceives, and interupts her with the grant of what the demands. Lyf. I fear to thee by Cupid's ftrongest bow, &c.

By all the vows that ever men have broke

In number more than ever woman spoke·

Here the interrupts him in her turn; declares herself satisfied, and confents to meet him in the following words:

Her.In that fame place thou haft appointed me,
To-morrow truly will I meet with thee.

This divifion of the lines, befides preferving the character, gives the dialogue infinitely more force and fpirit. WARBURTON. This emendation is judicious, but not neceffary. I have therefore given the note without altering the text. The cenfure of men, as oftener perjured than women, feems to make that line more proper for the lady. JOHNSON.

4by that fire that burn'd the Carthage queen,] Shakspeare had forgot that Thefeus performed his exploits before the Trojan war, and confequently long before the death of Dido.



Enter Helena.

Her. God fpeed, fair Helena! Whither away?
Hel. Call you me fair? that fair again unfay.
Demetrius loves your fair: O happy fair!
Your eyes are lode-stars; and your tongue's fweet

More tuneable than lark to fhepherd's ear,
When wheat is green, when haw-thorn buds appear.
Sickness is catching; O, were favour fo?!
Yours would I catch, fair Hermia, ere I go s;
My ear fhould catch your voice, my eye your eye,
My tongue should catch your tongue's fweet melody.
Were the world mine, Demetrius being bated,

5 The quarto reads--your fair. JOHNSON.

The ready of the quarto is the true one, and I have restored it. Fair is ufed again as a fubftantive in the Comedy of Errors. Act. iii. f. 4. See vol. ii. p. 188:

"My decayed fair,

"A funny look of his would foon repair." STEEVENS. Your eyes are lode-ftars; ] This was a compliment not unfre quent among the old poets. The lode ftar is the leading or guid ing ftar, that is, the pole-ftar. The magnet is, for the fame reafon, called the lode-Acne, either because it leads iron, or because it guides the failor. Milton has the fame thought in L'Allegro: "Tow'rs and battlements he fees "Bofom'd high in tufted trees, "Where perhaps fome beauty lies, "The cynofure of neigbb'ring eyes."

Davies calis Elizabeth, lode-ftone to hearts, and lode-flone to all eyes." JOHNSON.

So, in the Spanish Tragedy:

"Led by the loadftar of her heav'nly looks."

Again, in the Battle of Alcazar, 1594:

The loadftar and the honour of our line." STEEVENS. O, were favour fo!] Favour is feature, countenance So, in Twelfth Night, act ii. fc. 4:


thine eye

"Hath ftay'd upon fome favour that it loves."



8 This emendation is taken from the Oxford edition. The old reading is, Your words Icatch. JOHNSON.


The reft I'll give to be to you tranflated.
O, teach me how you look; and with what art
You fway the motion of Demetrius' heart.

Her. I frown upon him, yet he loves me ftill. Hel. Oh, that your frowns would teach my smiles fuch skill!

Her. I give him curfes, yet he gives me love. Hel. Oh, that my prayers could fuch affection move!

Her. The more I hate, the more he follows me.
Hel. The more I love, the more he hateth me,
Her. His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine.


[ocr errors]

Hel. None, but your beauty; 'Would that fault were mine!

Her. Take comfort; he no more shall see my face;
Lyfander and myself will fly this place.—
Before the time I did Lyfander see 3,
Seem'd Athens as a paradife to me i

O then, what graces in my love do dwell,
That he hath turn'd a heaven unto a hell!

Lyf. Helen, to you our minds we will unfold:
To-morrow night, when Phoebe doth behold.
Her filver vifage in the watry glass,

Decking with liquid pearl the bladed grafs,

[ocr errors]

9-to be to you tranflated.] To tranflate, in our author, fometimes fignifies to change, to transform. So, in Timon: to prefent flaves and fervants

[ocr errors]

"Tranflates his rivals.".


His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine.] The folio and one of the quartos read, His folly, Helena, is none of mine. JOHNSON. 2 None, but your beauty; would that fault were mine!] 1 would point this line thus:


But your beauty;

-Would that fault were mine!

3 Perhaps every reader may not difcover the propriety of thefe lines. Hermia is willing to comfort Helena, and to avoid all ap pearance of triumph over her. She therefore bids her not to con fider the power of pleafing, as an advantage to be much envied or or much defired, fince Hermia, whom the confiders as poffeffing it in the fupreme degree, has found no other effect it than the lofs of happiness. JOHNSON.

(A time


(A time that lovers, flights doth ftill conceal)
Through Athens' gates have we devis'd to fteal.
Her. And in the wood, where often you and I
Upon faint primrose-beds were wont to lye,
Emptying our bosoms of their counfels fwell'd 3;

3 Emptying our bofoms of their counsels fwell'd;
There my Lyfander and myself shall meet:
And thence, from Athens, turn away our eyes,

To feek new friends, and frange companions.]

This whole scene is strictly in rhyme; and that it deviates in these two couplets, I am perfuaded, is owing to the ignorance of the first, and the inaccuracy of the later editors: I have therefore ventured to restore the rhimes, as I make no doubt but the poet first gave them. Saveet was eafily corrupted into fell'd, because that made an antithefis to emptying: and frange companions our editors thought was plain English; but franger companies, a little quaint and unintelligible. Our author very often uses the fubFantive, Stranger adjectively; and companies to fignify companions: as Rich. II. act i:

"To tread the stranger paths of banishment.”

And Hen. V:

"His companies unlettered, rude and shallow." THEOBALD. Dr. Warburton retains the old reading, and perhaps justifiably for a bofom fwell'd with fecrets does not appear as an expreflion unlikely to have been used by our author, who speaks of a fluff'd bofom in Macbeth.

In Lylly's Midas, 1592, is a fomewhat fimilar expreffion: "I am one of thofe whofe tongues are favell'd with filence." Again, in our author's K. Richard II.


the unfeen grief

"That fells in filence in the tortur'd foul."

In the scenes of K. Richard II. there is likewife a mixture of rhime and blank verfe. I have therefore restored the old reading, -ftrange companions. Mr. Tyrwhitt concurs with Theobald. STEEVENS.

I think, Sweet, the reading propofed by Theobald is right. Counfels relates in conftruction to emptying-and not to the last word in the line, as it is now made to do by reading fwell'd. A fimilar phrafeology is ufed by a writer contemporary with Shakspeare:

"So ran the poor girls filling the air with fhrieks,
"Emptying of all the colour their pale cheeks."

Heywood's Apology for Actors, Sig. B. 4. 1610. The adjective all here added to colour, exactly answers, in conftruction, to fweet in the text, as regulated by Theobald.



There my Lyfander and myself shall meet :
And thence, from Athens, turn away our eyes,
To feek new friends and ftrange companions.
Farewel, sweet playfellow: pray thou for us,
And good luck grant thee thy Demetrius !-
Keep word, Lyfander: we must starve our fight
From lovers' food, 'till morrow deep midnight +.
[Exit Herm.
Lys. I will, my Hermia.-Helena, adieu :
As you on him, Demetrius dote on you! [Exit Lyf.
Hel. How happy fome, o'er other fome, can be!
Through Athens I am thought as fair as the.
But what of that? Demetrius thinks not fo;
He will not know what all but he do know.
And as he errs, doting on Hermia's eyes,
So I admiring of his qualities.

Things bafe and vile, holding no ''quantity,
Love can tranfpofe to form and dignity.

Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind;
And therefore is wing'd Cupid painted blind;
Nor hath love's mind of any judgment tafte;
Wings, and no eyes, figure unheedy hafte :
And therefore is love faid to be a child,
Because in choice he is so oft beguil'd.
As waggish boys themselves in game forfwear,
So the boy love is perjur'd every where:

-when Phabe doth behold, &c.

deep midnight.


Shakspeare has a little forgotten himself. It appears from page 4. that to-morrow night would be within three nights of the new moon, when there is no moonshine at all, much lefs at deep midnight. The fame overfight occurs in page 59. BLACKSTONE.

S no quantity,] Quality feems a word more fuitable to the fenfe than quantity, but either may ferve. JOHNSON.


in game] Game here fignifies not contentious play, but Sport, jeft. So Spenfer :

" 'twixt carneft and 'twixt game." JOHNSON.


« AnteriorContinuar »