« PreviousContinue »
Mr. Upton confounds the copy of a picture with the imitation of a painter's manner. Copies
are easily known; but good imitations are not detected with equal certainty, and are, by the best judges, often mistaken. Nor is it true, that the writer has always peculiarities equally distinguishable with those of the painter. The peculiar manner of each arises from the desire, natural to every performer, of facilitating his subsequent work, by recur. rence to his former ideas; this recurrence produces that repetition which is called habit. The painter, whose work is partly intellectual and partly manual, has habits of the mind, the eye, and the hand; the writer has only habits of the mind. Yet, some painters have differed as much from themselves, as from any other; and I have been told, that there is little resemblance between the first works of Raphael and the last. The same varia. tion may be expected in writers; and if it be true, as it seems, that they are less subject to habit, the difference between their works may be yet greater.
But, by the internal marks of a composition, we may discover the author with probability, though seldom with certainty..... When I read this play, I cannot but think, that I find, both in the serious and ludicrous scenes, the language and sentiments of Shakspeare. It is not, indeed, one of his most powerful effusions ; it has neither many diversities of character, nor striking delineations of life ; but it abounds in guapoll, beyond most of his plays, and few have more lines or passages, which, singly considered, are eminently beautiful. I am yet inclined to believe, that it was not very successful, and suspect that it has escaped corruption, only because, being seldom played, it was less exposed to the hazards of transcription. Fohnson.
Duke of Milan, father to Silvia.
Julia, a lady of Verona, beloved by Proteus.
SCENE, Sometimes in Verona; sometimes in Milan; and on the
frontiers of Mantua.
1 Proteus,] the old copy has—Protheus; but this is merely the antiquated mode of spelling Proteus. See the Princely Pleasures at Kenelworth Castle, by G. Gascoigne, 1587, where “Protheus appeared, sitting on a dolphyns back.” Again, in one of Barclay's Eclogues :
“ Like as Protheus oft chaungeth his stature.” Shakspeare's character was so called, from his disposition to change. Steevens.
ACT I....SCENE I.
An open place, in Verona.
Enter VALENTINE and PROTEUS.
Val. Cease to persuade, my loving Proteus;
Pro. Wilt thou be gone? Sweet Valentine, adieu!
Val. And, on a love-book, pray for my success.
2 Home-keeping youth have ever homely wits:] Milton has the same play on words, in his Masque at Ludlow Castle:
“ It is for homely features to keep home,
They had their name thence." Steevens.
shapeless idleness.] The expression is fine, as implying that idleness prevents the giving any form or character to the
How young Leander cross'd the Hellespont.“
Pro. That's a deep story of a deeper love; For he was more, than over shoes, in love.
Val. 'Tis true: for you are over boots in love, And yet you never swom the Hellespont.
Pro. Over the boots ? nay, give me not the boots.s
some shallow story of deep love, How
young Leunder crossid the Hellespont.] The poem of Museus, entitled HERO AND LEANDER, is meant. Marlowe's translation of this piece was entered on the Stationers' books, Sept. 18, 1593, and the first two Sestiads of it, with a small part of the third, (which was all that he had finished) were printed, I imagine, in that or the following year. See Blount's dedication to the edition of 1637; by which it appears, that it was originally published, in an imperfect state. It was extremely popular, and deservedly so; many of Marlowe's lines being as smooth as those of Dryden. Our author has quoted one of them, in As you like it. He had probably read this poem, recently, before he wrote the present play; for he again alludes to it, in the third act:
“Why then, a ladder, quaintly made of cords,
“ So bold Leander would adventure it." Since this note was written, I have seen the edition of Marlowe's Hero and Leander, printed in 1598. It contains the first two Sestiads only. The remainder was added by Chapman. Malone.
- nay, give me not the boots.) A proverbial expression, though now disused, signifying, don't make a laughing stock of me; don't play with me. The French have a phrase, Bailler foin en corne; which Cotgrave thus interprets, To give one the boots; to sell him a bargain. Theobald.
Perhaps this expression took its origin from a sport the countrypeople in Warwickshire use at their harvest-home, where one sits as judge, to try misdemeanors committed in harvest, and the punishment for the men is, to be laid on a bench, and slapped on the breech with a pair of boots. This they call giving them the boots. I meet with the same expression in the old comedy, called Mother Bornbie, by Lyly :
“What do you give mee the boots ?” Again, in The Weakest goes to the Wall, a comedy, 1618:
Nor your fat bacon can carry it away, if you offer us
the boots." The boots, however, were an ancient engine of torture. In MS. Harl. 6999—48, Mr. T. Randolph writes to Lord Hunsdon, &c. and mentions, in the P. S. to his letter, that George Flecke had yesterday night the boots, and is said to have confessed, that the E. of Morton was privy to the poisoning the E. of Athol, 16 March, 1580: and, in another letter, March 18, 1580: “-that
Val. No, I'll not; for it boots thee not.
To be In love, where scorn is bought with groans; coy looks, With heart-sore sighs; one fading moment's mirth, With twenty watchful, weary, tedious nights: If haply won, perhaps, a hapless gain; If lost, why then a grievous labour won; However, but a folly, 6 bought with wit, Or else a wit, by folly vanquished.
Pro. So, by your circumstance, you call me fool.
Val. Love is your master, for he masters you:
Pro. Yet writers say, As in the sweetest bud
Val. And writers say, As the most forward bud
the Laird of Whittingham had the boots, but without torment, confess’d,” &c. Steevens.
The boot was an instrument of torture, used only in Scotland.. Bishop Burnet, in The History of his own Times, Vol. I. 332, edit. 1754, mentions one Maccael, a preacher, who, being suspected of treasonable practices, underwent the punishment, so late as 1666. “-He was put to the torture, which, in Scotland, they call the boots ; for they put a pair of iron boots close on the leg, and drive wedges between these and the leg. The common tor, ture was only to drive these in the calf of the leg: but I have been told they were sometimes driven upon the shin bone.” Reed.
6 However, but a folly, &c.] This love will end in a foolish action, to produce which, you are long to spend your wit, or it will end in the loss of your wit, which will be overpowered, by the folly of love. Johnson,
As in the sweetest bud
" For canker vice, the sweetest buds doth love." Malone.