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Upon weighing the context with all the strictness and accuracy that I am capable of, I cannot but think the Author's meaning is lost in a slight corruption of the text; and that we ought to restore him to sense, and the deduction he aims at, one of these two ways,
When I to FEAST expressly am FORBID;
or (you know he loves to play with similar words), When I to FAST expressly am FORE-BID; sub judice lis est.
P. 226. Why should I joy in an abortive BIRTH?
But like of each thing that in season grows. From p. 224, at this line,
O these are barren tasks, &c.
all the subsequent lines are strictly in rhyme, either continued by couplets, alternate, or in triplets. But by the triplet that takes place here, you will observe birth is quite destitute of a rhyme to it. I have ventured to imagine the third line should be read thus: Than wish a snow in May's new-fangled EARTH; the ground being at that season new-clad with such a diversity of flowers.
P. 224. When I was wont to think no harm all night. By the way, does not this seem an imitation, or translation rather may I call it, of this Latin proverbial saying, Qui benè dormit, nihil mali cogitat?
P. 227. Long. To fright them hence with that dread penalty;
A dang'rous Law against GENTILITY,
To the second verse, I think, the name of Biron ought certainly to be prefixed; who makes the observation, and then continues to read another article out of the paper.
So, on the contrary, at this line a little lower, Bir. This article, my liege, yourself must break; the name of Biron ought to be expunged, as unne
cessary; he going on to address himself to the King, immediately after he has read out the article. But how are we to understand the word GENTILITY here? Does it mean against gentleness, manners, and humanity? It cannot mean against the rank of GENTRY only; for women of all ranks were by the law indifferently proscribed the Court. I once guessed, it should be,-A dangerous law against GARRULITY; all women having so much of that unhappy faculty. P. 228. I am the LAST that will LAST keep his oath. I think, I take our Author's meaning in this sage, but is not his English a little perplexed? shall relate In high-born words the worth of many a Knight:
From tawny Spain lost in the world's debate, I correct the pointing of this passage thus:
In high-born words the worth of many a Knight
Ibid. Dull. Which is the DUKE's own person?
Here, and in several other places, DUKE has obtained erroneously for KING; but then how politely has Mr. Pope's negligence made Biron answer! Nobody but he needs be told, we should point it
This, fellow; what would'st?
Ibid. A high hope for a low HEAVEN.
Unpardonable stupidity! Because God is mentioned just before, these Editors concluded HEAVEN must be lugged in after him. I am persuaded you will read with me,
A high hope for a low HAVING. Shakespeare uses this as a substantive not less than a hundred times.
P. 234. Boy, I do love that country-girl that I took in the park with the RATIONAL hind Costard. From Armado's self-sufficiency, and contempt for
Costard, should not this rather be,
Or, as hind signifies both a rustic and a stag, does he mean, think you, to consider Costard as a mere animal, and so call him, with regard to his form as a man, the RATIONAL BRUTE?
P. 235. Enter Costard, Dull, Jaquenetta, AND MAID. Marvellous accuracy indeed! Jaquenetta is the maid, or country wench, as the Dramatis Personæ styles her, and no other maid enters. It therefore should be, if the additional words are at all necessary, Jaquenetta, A MAID; i. e. a servant maid.
Ibid. She is allowed for the DAY-WOMAN.
I do not know this term.
Ibid. Maid. Fair weather after you. Come, JAQUE-
Hence, I suppose, Mr. Pope derived his mistake of making the Maid and Jaquenetta two persons. But I will venture to solve this difficulty to him, by restoring as it ought to be:
Jaq. Fair weather after you!
DULL. Come, Jaquenetta, come.
For Dull, you observe, in his very first speech, tells us, he has the charge of THIS damsel, and is to keep her at the park.
P. 236. The FIRST and SECOND cause will not serve my turn.
I remember you were so good to say, you had something remarkable for me in petto, concerning our Author's so very frequently alluding to DUELLING. Ben Jonson, I remember, mentions it as a thing then in vogue of quarreling by theory, from Caranza's book DE DUELLO *. I presume, our Author either had the original, or some translation of this tract; which furnished him both with terms and raillery upon the subject.
P. 238. The young Dumain, a well-accomplisht youth; Of all that Virtue love, for Virtue lov'd. Most power to do most harm, &c.
* See "Every Man in his Humour," Act I. Scene 5.
There is something here very cramp, and obscure to me; and I cannot make out the context with any satisfaction.
P. 239. Another of these students at that time
as I have heard, a YOUTH
As, again, the same corruption has obtained at p. 301: A wife, a beard, fair HEALTH.
But the passage I have communicated, and you approved my emendation.
P. 241. For here he doth demand to have repaid
An hundred thousand crowns, and not DE
One payment of an hundred thousand crowns,
Sure, by the degradation of the right word here, I am very dull, or Mr. Pope has made stark nonsense. Aquitain was pledged to Navarre's father for security of 200,000 crowns. The French King pretends to have paid half the debt; but demands that back again, instead of remembering to pay as much more, in full discharge of the debt, and redeeming Aquitain from Navarre's mortgage. This to me is plainly our Poet's meaning.
P. 245. Sigh a note and sing a note, sometimes through the throat: if you swallow'd Love with singing, love sometime through the nose, as if you snufft up Love with smelling Love, &c. The bad pointing strangely confuses the sense here. I rectify it thus:
Sigh a note, and sing a note; sometimes through the throat, As if you swallowed Love with singing. LOVE; sometime through the nose, as if you snuffed up Love with smelling Love; &c.
P. 246. Arm. How hast thou purchased this experience?
Moth. By my PEN of observation.
We have conjectured here, either, PAIN, KEN, or
P. 249; and infra, p. 256:
My sweet ounce of man's flesh, my IN-CONY Jew. What monster of a word is this? Sure, Costard does not pretend to any skill in the French, and mean inconnu. I suspect something more intricate, or obsolete.
Ibid. What's the price of this incle? A penny. No, I'll give you a remuneration: Why? it carries its remuneration: why? it is a fairer name than a French crown.
I cannot be persuaded all is sound here according to the Poet's intention.
I will venture at some few changes in the pointing; and, I think, we shall come at his sense.
What's the price of this incle? A penny. - No, I'll give you a remuneration.-Why, it carries it.— Remuneration!-Why, it is a fairer word than a French crown.
P. 250. A very beadle to an HUMOROUS sigh.
Annon rectiùs, AMOROUS sigh? Though I remember, in Romeo, Mercutio, calling for him, cries, Lover, HUMOURS, madman.
Fortè HUMOROUS madman, i. e. governed by
and odd humour of your Love-passion.
P. ....... And I to be a Corporal of his FIELD,
And wear his colours like a tumbler's HOOP? To be a Corporal of a Field. Is not this a very peculiar phrase? And then is a tumbler's hoop ever garnished with ribbands, or adorned with any diversity of colours? I confess, I neither remember, nor know.
Boyet, you can carve:
i. e. open the Letter. I suppose, as among the