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Now expectation, tickling skittish spirits,
verb plural governed of a nominative singular. But that is easily remedied. The next question to be asked is, In what sense a city, having six strong gates, and those well barred and bolted, can be said to stir up its inhabitants ? unless they may be supposed to derive some spirit from the strength of their fortifications. But this could not be the poet's thought. He must mean, I take it, that the Greeks had pitched their tents upon the plains before Troy ; and that the Trojans were securely barricaded within the walls and gates of their city. This sense my correction restores. To sperre, or spar, from the old Teutonick word Speren, signifies to shut up, defend by bars, &c. Theobald. So, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, book v. c. 10 :
“ The other that was entred, labour'd fast
“ To sperre the gate," &c. Again, in the romance of The Squhr of Low Degre :
“ Sperde with manie a dyvers pynne.” And in The Vision of P. Plowman, it is said that a blind man “ unsparryd his eine.” Again, in Warner's Albion's England, 1602, book ii. ch. 12: “ When chased home into his holdes, there sparred up in
gates." Again, in the 2d Part of Bale's Actes of English Votaryes : “ The dore thereof oft tymes opened and speared agayne.”
Mr. Theobald informs us that the very names of the gates of Troy have been barbarously demolished by the editors; and a deal of learned dust he makes in setting them right again ; much however to Mr. Heath's satisfaction. Indeed the learning is modestly withdrawn from the later editions, and we are quietly instructed to read
“Dardan, and Thymbria, Ilia, Scæa, Trojan,
“ And Antenorides." But had he looked into the Troy Boke of Lydgate, instead of puzzling himself with Dares Phrygius, he would have found the horrid demolition to have been neither the work of Shakspeare, nor his editors :
“ Therto his cyte | compassed enuyrowne
“ Largest also | and moste princypall,
Sets all on hazard :-And hither am I come
“ Of myghty byldyng | alone pereless,
Lond. Empr. by R. Pynson, 1513, fol. b. ii. ch. 11. The Troye Boke was somewhat modernized, and reduced into regular stanzas, about the beginning of the last century, under the name of, “ The Life and Death of Hector--who fought a Hundred mayne Battailes in open Field against the Grecians ; wherein there were slaine on both Sides Fourteene Hundred and Sixe Thousand, Fourscore and Sixe Men.” Fol. no date. This work, Dr. Fuller, and several other criticks, have erroneously quoted as the original; and observe, in consequence, that “ if Chaucer's coin were of greater weight for deeper learning, Lydgate's were of a more refined standard for purer language: so that one might mistake him for a modern writer.” FARMER.
On other occasions, in the course of this play, I shall generally insert quotations from the Troye Booke Modernized, as being the most intelligible of the two. Steevens.
6 A prologue arm’d,] I come here to speak the prologue, and come in armour: not defying the audience, in confidence of either the author's or actor's abilities, but merely in a character suited to the subject, in a dress of war, before a warlike play. Johnson.
Motteux seems to have borrowed this idea in his Prologue to Farquhar's Twin Rivals :
“ With drums and trumpets in this warring age,
“ A martial prologue should alarm the stage." STEEVENS. 7 — the vaunt -] i. e. the avant, what went before. So, in King Lear:
“ Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts.” Steevens.
Ginning in the middle; starting thence away
The vaunt is the vanguard, called, in our author's time, the vaunt-guard. Percy.
firstlings —] A scriptural phrase, signifying the first produce or offspring. So, in Genesis, iv. 4: “And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock." STEEVENS.
PRIAM, King of Troy :
HELEN, Wife to Menelaus.
Trojan and Greek Soldiers, and Attendants. SCENE, Troy, and the Grecian camp before it.
TROILUS AND CRESSIDA.
ACT I. SCENE I.
Before PRIAM's Palace.
Enter TROILUS armed, and PANDARUS.
Pan. Will this geer ne'er be mended ? ?
strength, Fierce to their skill, and to their fierceness valiant;
1- my varler,] This word anciently signified a servant or footman to a knight or warrior. So, Holinshed, speaking of the battle of Agincourt : “ — diverse were releeved by their varlets, and conveied out of the field.” Again, in an ancient epitaph in the church-yard of Saint Nicas at Arras :
“ Cy gist Hakin et son varlet, .
“ Avec son espé et salloche,” &c. Steevens. Concerning the word varlet, see Recherches Historiques Sur Les Cartes à Jouer. Lyon, 1757, p. 61. M. C. T'Utet.
2 Will this geer ne'er be mended ?] There is somewhat proverbial in this question, which I likewise meet with in the interlude of King Darius, 1565:
“Wyll not yet this geere be amended,
“ Nor your sinful acts corrected ?" Steevens. 3 - skilful to their strength, &c.] i. e. in addition to their strength. The same phraseology occurs in Macbeth, Act I. Sc. II.