« PreviousContinue »
cannot help, however, inventing particulars not to be found in his original.
8 And sigh'd his soul, &c.
And yet came not Troilus to Crescid:
Clarke's Chaucer, vol. ii. p. 151.
9" And saw the lion's shadow.”—Thisbe in Chaucer does not see the shadow before she sees the beast; (a fine idea !) nor does she in Ovid. In both poets, it is a lioness seen by moonlight. a
“ With bloody mouth, of strangling of a beast."
Metam. lib. iv. v. 97.
106 Stood Dido with a willow in her hand.”— The willow, a symbol of being forsaken, is not in Chaucer. It looks as if Shakspeare had seen it in a picture, where it would be more necessary than in a poem.
11“ Medea gather'd the enchanted herbs.”—Shakspeare has here gone from Chaucer to Gower. Warton in his Observations on the Faerie Queene, vol. i. p. 361, edit. 1807, has noticed a passage in Gower's story, full of imagination. The poet is speaking of Medea going out upon the business noticed by Shakspeare.
Thus it fell upon a night,
And that was at midnight tide.-
12“ There's not the smallest orb.”—The “ warbler of woodnotes wild” has here manifestly joined with Plato and other learned spirits to suggest to Milton his own account of the Music of the Spheres, which every reader of taste, I think, must agree with Mr. Knight in thinking “less perfect in sentiment and harmony.”—Pictorial Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 448. The best thing in it is what is observed by Warton : that the listening to the spheres is the recreation of the Genius of the Wood (the speaker) after his day's duty, “when the world is locked up in sleep and silence.”
Then listen I
* Glode, is glided. If Chaucer's contemporary had written often thus, his name would have been as famous.
And the low world in measur'd motion draw
Arcades, v. 62.
The best account I remember to have read of the Music of the Spheres is in the History of Music by Hawkins.
13“ Dear lady, welcome home.”—Never was a sweeter or more fitting and bridal elegance, than in the whole of this scene, in which gladness and seriousness prettily struggle, each alternately yielding predominance to the other. The lovers are at once in heaven and earth. The new bride is “drawn home" with the soul of love in the shape of music; and to keep her giddy spirits down, she preached that little womanly sermon upon a good deed shining in a "naughty world.” The whole play is, in one sense of the word, the most picturesque in feeling of all Shakspeare's. The sharp and malignant beard of the Jew (himself not unreconciled to us by the affections) comes harmlessly against the soft cheek of love.
ANTONY AND THE CLOUDS.
Ant. Eros, thou yet behold'st me?
A vapour sometime like a bear, or lion,
Eros. Ay, my lord.
Ant. That which is now a horse, even with a thought
Eros. It does, my lord.
Ant. My good knave, Eros, now thy captain is Even such a body:-here I am,-Antony
I Yet cannot hold this shape.
Hotspur. My cousin Vernon! welcome, by my soul !
Hot. No harm : What more?
Ver. And further, I have learn'd,-
Hot. He shall be welcome too. Where is his son,
Bated like eagles having lately bath'd ;
Hot. No more, no more; worse than the sun in March,
14 "Harry to Harry shall, hot horse to horse.”—I cannot help thinking that the word hot in this line ought to be not. “ Hot horse to horse” is not a very obvious mode of speech, and it is too obvious an image. The horses undoubtedly would be hot enough. But does not Hotspur mean to say that the usual shock of horses will not be sufficient for the extremity of