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ABUNDANT IMAGERY. Shakespeare is so exuberant in fancy, so overflowing with thought and idea, that he occasionally floods a passage with images; sometimes even to the obscuring of its direct drift. See, among many others that might be cited in illustration :
Oh, will you eat no grapes, my royal fox ?
And witch the world with noble horsemanship.-Ibid., iv. 1. In the above glowing passage, so richly full of illustration are the sentences—even giving a simile within a simile—that the author's scope has been missed by some emendators; Rowe, and others, changing “with " to "wing.
wing.” That clause of the passage, “ that with the wind bated, like eagles having lately bath’d,” is the speaker's comment upon the effect produced on his sight by the appearance he is imaging to his hearers. He describes the prince and his military companions as all “ plum'd like estridges," and then, incidentally, gives the impression which these youthful warriors produced upon his sight by the fluttering of their plumed crests; then resumes his more direct description of the men, by the words " glittering in golden coats." If the construction of the passage caused by Rowe's substituted word be adopted, we have the awkward effect of the warriors having “ bated"; if however we accept the construction afforded by the original word, we have the poetical effect of their plumes and those of the estridges to whom theirs are compared having “ bated” with the wind. To“ bate" is a term in falconry, meaning the fluttering or beating the wings of a hawk (French, battre, to beat); also the sedulous spreading and ruffling of the feathers of most birds after bathing, in order that the air may speedily dry them. "Estridges" is an old form of "ostriches," and the
plumes of this bird are most appropriately introduced here, as they figure in the armorial cognisance of the Prince of Wales.
As weeds before
His two chamberlains
AFFECTED PHRASEOLOGY. Our dramatist has given several different specimens of affected phraseology. Of the courtier's euphuism and high-flown diction, as in Le Beau ; where his nervous horror at holding acquaintance with one in court disgrace is shown, when he magnificently assures Orlando that he shall be happy to include him among his intimates in heaven :
Sir, fare you well:
I shall desire more love and knowledge of you. As You L., i. 3. In Osric; dreading to differ in opinion with the prince who has first observed that the weather is “ very cold,” and then that it is very
Exceedingly, my lord; it is very sultry,-as 'twere,-I cannot tell how. And bringing the royal invitation to the fencing-match with that flourish of verbal trumpet :
Sir, here is newly come to court Laertes; believe me, an absolute gentleman, full of most excellent differences, of very soft society, and great showing: indeed, to speak feelingly of him, he is the card and calendar of gentry; for you shall find in him the continent of what part a gentleman would see. The prince at once humours and quietly mocks Osric by replying in even an exaggerated strain of fantastic expression :
Sir, his definement suffers no perdition in you; though, I know, to divide him inventorially would dizzy the arithmetic of memory; and yet but raw, neither, in respect of his quick sail. But, in the verity of extolment, I take him to be a soul of great article; and his infusion of such dearth and rareness, as, to make true diction of
him, his semblable is his mirror; and who else would trace him, his umbrage, nothing
The rejoinder to this shows that Osric perceives nothing of the subtle mockery, but accepts it as genuine elegance in expression ; saying :
Your lordship speaks most infallibly of him. For a moment the affected talker is posed by the prince's ultra extravagance in the question :
The concernancy, sir ? why do we wrap the gentleman in our more rawer breath? and is perplexed by Horatio's joining in Hamlet's banter. Nevertheless, he soon recovers his wonted glib frippery of language, and thus delivers the remainder of his message :
The king, sir, hath wagered with him six Barbary horses : against the which he has imponed, as I take it, six French rapiers and poniards, with their assigns, as girdle, hangers, and so: three of the carriages, in faith, are very dear to fancy, very responsive to the hilts, most delicate carriages, and of very liberal conceit.-Hamlet, v. 2.
A slight touch of courtierly finicalness in phraseology is given where the gentleman answers Edgar's inquiry, “How near's the other army?" by replying :
Near, and on speedy foot; the main descry
Stands on the hourly thought.-Lear, iv. 6. In the brief dialogue between Sir Toby and Viola (disguised as the page Cesario), an example is given of the periphrastic language affected by fine gentlemen and professed swordmen :
Sir To. Will you encounter the house ? my niece is desirous you should enter, if your trade be to her.
Vio. I am bound to your niece, sir ; I mean, she is the list of my voyage.
Sir To. I mean, to go, sir ; to enter.
Also of the affected and overbearing style of professed duellists; whom Mercutio scoffs at in the person of Tybalt, when he exclaims against
Such antic, lisping, affecting fantasticoes; these new tuners of accents ! " By Jesu, a very good blade !-a very tall man!”–R. & Jul., ii. 4.
Again, of the would-be soldierly bluffness and curtness, with use of a hackneyed word or phrase, that were adopted by military adventurers :
Bard. My captain, sir, commends him to you; my captain, Sir John Falstaff, a tall gentleman, by heaven, and a most gallant leader. And when Shallow inquires “How my lady his wife doth?" answers:
Sir, pardon ; a soldier is better accommodated than with a wife. And finishes by thus vindicating his use of the expression which Shallow has patronised :
Pardon me, sir ; I have heard the word. Phrase, call you it? by this good day, I know not the phrase ; but I will maintain the word with my sword to be a soldier. like word, and a word of exceeding good command, by heaven. Accommodated; that is, when a man is, as they say, accommodated; or, when a man is, being, whereby,-he may be thought to be accommodated; which is an excellent thing.
2 H. IV., üi. 2.
Likewise in Nym's surly threats, and pretended recklessness : For my part, I care not; I say little ; but when time shall serve, there shall be smiles ;--but that shall be as it may. I dare not fight; but I will wink, and hold out mine iron : it is a simple one; but what though? it will toast cheese, and it will endure cold as another man's sword will: and there an end. ..
Faith, I will live so long as I may, that's the certain of it; and when I cannot live any longer, I will do as I may: that is my rest, that is the rendezvous of it.
I cannot tell: things must be as they may: men may sleep, and they may have their throats about them at that time; and, some say, knives have edges. It must be as it may: though patience be a tired mare, yet she will plod. There must be conclusions. Well, I cannot tell. ...
I am not Barbason; you cannot conjure me. I have a humour to knock you indifferently well. If you grow foul with me, Pistol, I will scour you with my rapier, as i may, in fair terms: if you would walk off, I would prick your guts a little, in good terms, as I may: and that's the humour of it. I will cut thy throat, one time or other, in fair terms: that is the humour of it.
H. V., ii. 1. Then there is the conventional jargon of the painter and the poetaster. Each affecting to commend the other's production, while occupied in puffing his own, and making ostentatiously modest disclaimers, while urging praise :
Pain. You are rapt, sir, in some work, some dedication
A thing slipp'd idly from me.
Pain. A picture, sir. When comes your book forth?
Poet. Upon the heels of my presentment, sir.
'Tis a good piece.
Admirable! How this grace
Pain. It is a pretty mocking of the life.
I'll say of it,
I have, in this rough work, shap'd out a man,
Pain. How shall I understand you?
I will unbolt to you
And thus the versifier goes on, expatiating upon his own performance; the painter endeavouring to interpose with hints of how much better his own art would suffice to demonstrate the subject in question. But the other perseveres, will not be interrupted, impatiently exclaiming : “ Nay, sir, but hear me on; ” and continues his analytical harangue.
Elsewhere Shakespeare gives the affectation of pedantry, the selfglorification of empty-headed dealers in scraps of learning, displayed with florid absurdity S
Hol. The deer was, as you know, sanguis,-in blood; ripe as a pomewater, who now hangeth like a jewel in the ear of cælo,--the sky, the welkin, the heaven; and anon falleth like a crab on the face of terra,—the soil, the land, the earth.
Nath. Truly, Master Holofernes, the epithets are sweetly varied, like a scholar at the least : but, sir, I assure ye, it was a buck of the first head.
Hol. Sir Nathaniel, haud credo.
Hol. Most barbarous intimation! yet a kind of insinuation, as it were, in via, in way, of explication; facere, as it were, replication, or, rather, ostentare, to show, as it were, his inclination, after his undressed, unpolished, uneducated, unpruned, untrained, or rather, unlettered, or ratherest, unconfirmed fashion,—to insert again my haud credo for a deer.
Dull. I said the deer was not a haud credo ; 'twas a pricket.
Hol. Twice-sod simplicity, bis coctus! Oh, thou monster Ignorance, how deformed dost thou look!
Nath. Sir, he hath never fed of the dainties that are bred in a book; he hath not eat paper, as it were; he hath not drunk ink: his intellect is not replenished; he is only an animal, only sensible in the duller parts: and such barren plants are set before us, that we thankful should be—which we of taste and feeling are—for those parts that do fructify in us more than he.—Love's L. L., iv. 2. And so on, through the whole of the scenes and dialogue wherein Sir Nathaniel and Holofernes figure.
In the same play there is yet another sample of affected phraseology, —that of the personage who is described as :
A man in all the world's new fashion planted,
That hath a mint of phrases in his brain;
Doth ravish like enchanting harmony.—Ibid., i. 1. The following is the style in which this Armado describes the struggles of his passion for the country girl, Jaquenetta, with his latemade vow and his long devotion to deeds of arms :
I do affect the very ground, which is base, where her shoe, which is baser, guided by her foot, which is basest, doth tread. I shall be forsworn, which is a great argument of falsehood, if I love: and how can that be true love which is falsely attempted ? Love is a familiar; Love is a devil; there is no evil angel but Love. Yet was Samson so tempted, and he had excellent strength; yet was Solomon so seduced, and he had a very good wit. Cupid's butt-shaft is too hard for Hercules' club; and therefore too much odds for a Spaniard's rapier. The first and second cause will not serve my turn; the passado he respects not, the duello he regards not: his disgrace is to be called boy; but his glory is to subdue men. Adieu, valour! rust, rapier! be still, drum! for your manager is in love; yea, he loveth. Assist me, some extemporal god of rhyme, for I am sure I shall turn sonneteer. Devise, wit; write, pen; for I am for whole volumes in folio.-Ibid., i. 2.