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Enter ACHILLES and PATROCLUS, before their Tent,
Ulyss. Achilles stands i' the entrance of his tent:--
Agam. We 'll execute your purpose, and put on
Achil. What, comes the general to speak with me? You know my mind, I 'll fight no more 'gainst Troy.
Agam. What says Achilles? would he aught with us? Nest. Would you, my lord, aught with the general ? Achil.
No. Nest. Nothing, my lord.
9 Why such unplausive eyes are bent, why turn'd on him:] If the eyes were bent on him, they were turn'd on him. This tautology, therefore, together with the redundancy of the line, plainly show that we ought to read, with Sir Thomas Hanmer:
Why such unplausive eyes are bent on him: Steevens. * Here, I suspect, a line has been lost. The General is re. quested to pass strangely by Achilles, to notice him not. The princes are told to pursue a different conduct, to look upon him as on a thing unworthy of regard. From the first part of the defective line, I am of opinion the impression expected to be made on Achilles by the conduct recommended by the General, and the negligent or unrespective gaze of the princes, formed distinct descriptions. I think the meaning our author must have intended is in substance
'Tis like he 'll question me
Such negligent regard-why turn’d on him? The words strangely and negligent regard I have introduced to tender more clear the idea which I would wish to convey. ..
Agam. The better. [Exeunt AGAM. and Nest. Achil.
Good day, good day. Men. How do you? how do you? [Exit MEN. Achil.
What, does the cuckold scorn me? Ajax. How now, Patroclus? Achil.
Good morrow, Ajax. Ajax.
Ha? Achil. Good morrow, Ajax.
Ay, and good next day too.
[Exit AJAX. Achil. What mean these fellows? Know they not
Achil.. What, am I poor of late ?
. i Good morrow.] Perhaps, in this repetition of the salute, we should read, as in the preceding instance,-Good morrow, Ajax, or, with more colloquial spirit, I say, good morrow. Otherwise the metre is defective. Steevens.
2- but honour -] Thus the quarto. The folio reads--but honour'd. Malone.
How now, Ulysses?
Now, great Thetis' son ?
A strange fellow here
This is not strange, Ulysses.
Ulyss. I do not strain at the position,
3- how dearly ever parted,] However excellently endowed, with however dear or precious parts enriched or adorned. Johnson.
Johnson's explanation of the word parted is just So, in Ben Jonson's Every Man out of his Humour, he describes Macilente as a man well parted; and in Massinger's Great Duke of Florence, Sanazarro says of Lydia:
“ And I, my lord, chose rather
“ Than to take from her.” M. Mason. So, in a subsequent passage:
" no man is the lord of any thing,
“Till he communicate his parts to others." Malone. 4_ nor doth the eye itself &c.] So, in Julius Cesar:
“No, Cassius; for the eye sees not itself,
“But by reflexion, by some other things.” Steevens. 5 To others' eyes:
(That most pure spirit &c.] These two lines are totally omited in all the editions but the first quarto. Pope.
6 For speculation turns not &c.] Speculation has here the same meaning as in Macbeth:
“ Thou hast no speculation in those eyes
It is familiar; but at the author's drift:
Most abject in regard, and dear in use!
? in his circumstance,] In the detail or circumduction of his argument. Johnson.
8 — which, like ] Old copies--who, like -- Corrected by Mr. Rowe. Malone. 9 a gate of steel
Fronting the sun,] This idea appears to have been caught from some of our ancient romances, which often describe gates of s.milar materials and effulgence. Steevens.
1 The unknown Ajax.] Ajax, who has abilities, which were never brought into view or 'use. Fohnson. 2_ Now shall we see to-morrow,
An act that very chance doth throw upon him,
Ajax renown'd.) I once thought that we ought to read renown. But by considering the middle line as parenthetical, the passage is sufficiently clear. Malone.
By placing a break after him, the construction will be:-Now we shall see to-morrow an act that very chance doth throw upon him [we shall see] Ajax renown'd. Henley.
3 How some men creep in skittish fortune's hall,] To creep is to keep out of sight from whatever motive. Some men keep out of no
W hiles others play the idiots in her eyes!
Achil. I do believe it: for they pass'd by me,
tice in the hall of fortune, while others, though they but play the idiot, are always in her eye, in the way of distinction. Johnson.
I cannot think that creep, used without any explanatory word, can mean to keep out of sight. While some men, says Ulysses, remain tamely inactive in fortune's hali, without any effort to excite her attention, others, &c. Such, I think, is the meaning Malone.
* I must differ in opinion with both the learned commentators on this passage. The meaning I take tu be this:
It is wonderful, how some men succeed, unendowed with talents; while some men, who possess every requisite, leave to do, or neglect to do: How some men creep into the good graces of fortune, whiles others, who have talents to command her smiles, play the fool, and forfeit her favours.
Mr. Malone's note on the next line supports what I have ad. vanced, and the two lines which follow
« To see these Grecian lords !--why, even already
“ They clap the lubber Ajax on the shoulder;" sufficiently explains the moral, and points the application. Am. Ed.
4 fasting -7 Quarto. The folio has feasting. Either word may bear a good sense. Fohnson.
I have preferred fasting, the reading of the quarto, to feasting, which we find in the folio, not only because the quarto copies are in general preferable to the folio, but because the original reading furnishes that kind of antithesis of which our poet was so fond. One man eats, while another fasts. Achilles is he who fasts; who capriciously abstains from those active exertions which would furnish new food for his pride. Malone.
5 And great Troy shrinking. The quarto-shrieking. The folio has, less poetically,--shrinking. The following passage in the subsequent scene supports the reading of the quarto:
“ Hark, how Troy roars; how Hecuba cries out;
“ And all cry-Hector, Hector's dead.” Malone. I prefer the reading of the folio. That the collective body of martial Trojans should shrink at sight of their hero's danger, is surely more natural to be supposed, than that, like frighted women, they would unite in a general shriek.
As to what Cassandra says, in the preceding note, it is the fate of that lady's evidence-never to be received. Steevens.