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If Helen then be wife to Sparta's king,
Tro. Why, there you touch'd the life of our design:
I am yours,
3 Is this, in way of truth: 7 Though considering truth and justice in this question, this is my opinion; yet as a question of honour, I think on it as you. Fohnson.
4 — the performance of our heaving spicens,] The execution of spite and resentment. Fohnson.
5- canonize us:] The hope of being registered as a saint, is rather out of its place at so early a period, as this of the Trojan war. Steevens.
6 - emulation -] That is, envy, factious contention. Fohnson.
Emulation is now never used in an ill sense; but Shakspeare meant to employ it so. He has used the same with more proVOL. XII.
Enter THERSITES. Ther. How now, Thersites? what, lost in the labyrinth of thy fury? Shall the elephant Ajax carry it thus? he beats me, and I rail at him: 0 worthy satisfaction! 'would, it were otherwise; that I could beat him, whilst he railed at me: 'Sfoot, I'll learn to conjure and raise devils, but I'll see some issue of my spiteful execrations. Then there 's Achilles,-a rare engineer.? If Troy be not taken till these two undermine it, the walls will stand till they fall of themselves. O thou great thunderdarter of Olympus, forget that thou art Jove the king of gods; and, Mercury, lose all the serpentine craft of thy Caduceus ;8 if ye take not that little little less-than-little wit from them that they have! which short-armed ignorance itself knows is so abundant scarce, it will not in circumvention deliver a fly from a spider, without drawing their massy irons,
priety in a former scene, by adding epithets that ascertain its meaning:
so every step,
“Of pale and bloodless emulation.” Malone. 7- a rare engineer. ] The old copies have-enginer, whick was the old spelling of engineer. So, truncheoner, pioner, mutiner, sonneter, &c. Malone. 8 the serpentine craft of thy Caduceus;] The wand of Mercury is wreathed with serpents. So Martial, Lib. VII, Epig. Ixxiv.
Cyllenes cælique decus. facunde minister,
Aurea cui torto virga dracone viret. Steevens. 9 without drawing their massy irons,] That is, without drawing their swords to cut the web. They use no means but those of violence. Johnson.
Thus the quarto. The folio reads--the massy irons. In the late editions iron has been substituted for irons, the word found in the old copies, and certainly the true reading. So, in King Richard III:
“ Put in their hands thy bruising irons of wrath,
and cutting the web. After this, the vengeance on the whole camp! or, rather, the bone-ache !1 for that, methinks, is the curse dependant on those that war for a placket. I have said my prayers; and devil, envy, say Amen. What, ho! my lord Achilles !
Enter PATROCLUS. Patr. Who's there? Thersites? Good Thersites, come in and rail.
Ther. If I could have remembered a gilt counterfeit, thou wouldest not have slipped out of my contemplation :3 but it is no matter; Thyself upon thyself! The common curse of mankind, folly and ignorance, be thine in great revenue! heaven bless thee from a tutor, and discipline come not near thee! Let thy blood be thy direction* till thy death! then if she, that lays thee out, says-thou art a fair corse, I'll be sworn and sworn upon 't, she never shrouded any but lazars. Amen. Where's Achilles ?
Patr. What, art thou devout? wast thou in prayer? Ther. Ay; The heavens hear me!
Bruising irons, in this quotation, as Mr. Henley has well observed in loco, signify-maces, weapons formerly used by our English cavalry. See Grose on ancient Armour, p. 53. Steevens. 1- the bone-ache ! ] In the quarto--the Neapolitan bone-ache !
Johnson. 2— that war for a placket.] On this occasion Horace must be our expositor:
fuit ante Helenam ****** teterrima belli Causa Sat. Lib. I, iii, 107. Steevens.
In mine opinion, this remark enlumineth not the English reader. See mine handling of the same subject, in the play of King Lear, Act III, sc. iv, Vol. XIV. Amner.
3 If I could have remembered a gilt counterfeit, thou wouldest not have slipped out of my contemplation:] Here is a plain allusion to the counterfeit piece of money called a slip, which occurs again in Romeo and Juliet, Act II, sc. iv, and which has been happily illustrated by Mr. Reed, in a note on that passage. There is the same allusion in Every Man in his Humour, Act II, sc. V.
Whalley. 4 Let thy blood be thy direction - Thy blood means, thy pas. sions; thy natural propensities. See Vol. V, p. 136, n. 5. Malone.
So, in The Yorkshire Tragedy: “ – for 'tis our blood to love what we are forbidden.” This word has the same sense in Timon of Athens and Cymbeline. Steevens.
Achil. Where, where?--Art thou come? Why, my cheese, my digestion, why hast thou not served thyself in to my table so many meals? Come; what 's Agamemnon?
Ther. Thy commander, Achilles ;-Then tell me, Patroclus, what's Achilles ?
Patr. Thy lord, Thersites; Then tell me, I pray thee, what's thyself?
Ther. Thy knower, Patroclus; Then tell me, Patroclus, what art thou?
Patr. Thou mayest tell, that knowest.
Ther. I'll decline the whole question.5 Agamemnon commands Achilles; Achilles is my lord; I am Patroclus' knower; and Patroclus is a fool.6
Patr. You rascal!
Ther. Agamemnon is a fool; Achilles is a fool; Thersites is a fool : and, as aforesaid, Patroclus is a fool.
Achil. Derive this; come.
Ther. Agamemnon is a fool to offer to command Achilles; Achilles is a fool to be commanded of Agamemnon; Thersites is a fool, to serve such a fool; and Patroclus is a fool positive.?
Patr. Why am i a fool?
Ther. Make that demand of the prover.8It suffices me, thou art. Look you, who comes here?
5 decline the whole question.] Deduce the question from the first case to the last Johnson.
6 - Patroclus is a fool.] The four next speeches are not in the quarto. Johnson.
7- a fool positive.] The poet is still thinking of his gram. mar; tlie first degree of comparison being here in his thoughts.
Malone. 8 of the prover ) So the quarto. Fohnson. The folio profanely reads—to thy creator. Steevens.
There seems to be a profane allusion in the last speech but one spoken by Thersites. Malone.
Enter AGAMEMNON, ULYSSES, NESTOR, DIOMEDES,
and AJAX. Achil. Patroclus, I'll speak with nobody:-Come in with me, Thersites.
[Exit. Ther. Here is such patchery, such juggling, and such knavery, all the argument is, a cuckold, and a whore; A good quarrel, to draw emulous factions, and bleed to death upon. Now the dry serpigo on the subject !1 and war, and lechery, confound all!
Agam. Let it be known to him, that we are here.
I shall say so to him. [Exit.
Ajax. Yes, lion-sick, sick of proud heart: you may call it melancholy, if you will favour the man; but, by
9 — to draw emulous factions,] i. e. envious, contending factions. See p. 73, n. 6. Malone.
Why not rival factions, factions jealous of each other? Steevens. 1 Now the dry serpigo &c.] This is added in the folio. Fohnson.
The serpigo is a kind of tetter. The term has already occurred in Measure for Measure. Steevens. 2 He shent our messengers;] i.e. rebuked, rated. Warburton.
This word is used in common by all our ancient writers. So, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, Book IV, ch. vi:
“ Yet for no bidding, not for being shent,
« Would he restrained be from his attendement." Again, in the ancient metrical romance of The Sowdon of Babyloyne, p. 41:
" - - hastowe no mynde
“ All messengeris he doth shende.” Steevens. .', The quarto reads-sate; the folio-sent. The correction was "made by Mr. Theobald. Sir T. Hanmer reads-He sent us messengers. I have great doubts concerning the emendation now adopted, though I have nothing satisfactory to propose. Thougha sent might easily have been misprinted for shent, how could sate (tbe reading of the original copy) and shent have been confounded?