Immagini della pagina

I know thou canst; and therefore, see thou do it.

I am possess'd with an adulterate blot;

My blood is mingled with the grime of lust :

For, if we two be one, and thou play false,

I do digest the poison of thy flesh,

Being strumpeted by thy contagion,


Keep, then, fair league and truce with thy true bed; 145
I live unstain'd, thou undishonoured.

139. canst] would'st Hanmer. 141. grime] Warburton; crime F 1. 143. thy] F1; my Ff 2, 3, 4. 146. unstain'd] Hanmer (Theobald conj.); distain'd F 1; dis-stain'd Theobald; distained Heath conj.; undistain'd Keightley. undishonoured] dishonoured Heath conj.

141. grime of lust] "Of," i.e. as the result or consequence of lust. Warburton read "grime" on the ground of the integrity of the metaphor and the word 66 blot" in the preceding line. Malone compares . ii. 104, 105: "A man may go over shoes in the grime of it." "Grime would seem more appropriate," remarks Marshall, "were Adriana talking of an external stain, not of a defilement of her blood." But, judging from lines 143, 144, she is undoubtedly referring to an external physical "blot " 'poison" (compare line 132). Dyce and Staunton adopt Warburton's reading, the latter aptly quoting Hall's Satires, bk. iv. Sat. i. :



"Besmeared all with loathsome smoake of lust." Besides, can lust, strictly speaking, be called a crime? At least, Shakespeare never refers to it as such.

144. strumpeted] Compare Sonnet lxvi. 6: "And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted." Steevens quotes Heywood's Iron Age (1632) [Second Part, IV. i. (Pearson, 1874, vol. iii. p. 398)]: “By this adultresse basely strumpetted."

146. unstain'd] I think we are compelled to read unstain'd, as, indeed, the Globe editors do. The dis- in distain'd of the Folio seems to have

[ocr errors]

been attracted by or to have arisen from some confusion with the disin undishonoured. Further, though Shakespeare uses distain, viz. in Richard III. v. iii. 322, and distains in Troilus and Cressida, 1. iii. 241, both in the sense of stain, the participle does not occur elsewhere in the plays. On the other hand, unstained is used in four passages, viz., Romeo and Juliet, IV. i. 88: "To live an unstain'd wife"; King John, 11. i. 16: "unstained love"; 2 Henry IV. v. ii. 114: "the unstain'd sword" "'; and Winter's Tale, Iv. iv. 149: an unstain'd shepherd." Theobald explains his dis-stain'd as unstained, undefiled, the meaning apparently being "free or apart from stain." Delius interprets the Folio text as follows: "I, as wife, receive the stain of your present conduct, while you, as husband, suffer no loss of honour "; and Herford on this remarks: "This certainly appeals far less to our instinct of style than the change to unstain'd which would make Adriana refer to the future she hopes for instead of the actuality she loathes." One of the strongest arguments for unstained is that of Dyce, who, reading unstain'd, remarks on the MS. having had vnstain'd, and the original compositor having mis

Ant. S. Plead you to me, fair dame ?

I know you not:

In Ephesus I am but two hours old,

As strange unto your town as to your talk;

Who, every word by all my wit being scanned,
Wants wit in all one word to understand.

Luc. Fie, brother! how the world is changed with you!
When were you wont to use my sister thus?


She sent for you by Dromio home to dinner.


Ant. S. By Dromio?

Dro. S. By me?

Adr. By thee; and this thou didst return from him,

That he did buffet thee, and, in his blows,

Denied my house for his, me for his wife.

Ant. S. Did you converse, sir, with this gentlewoman? 160 What is the course and drift of your compact?

Dro. S. I, sir? I never saw her till this time.

Ant. S. Villain, thou liest; for even her very words

Didst thou deliver to me on the mart.

Dro. S. I never spake with her in all my life.

Ant. S. How can she thus then call us by our names?

[blocks in formation]


156. By me?] Rowe (ed. 2); By me. 166, 167. names? . . . inspiration]

loss of the prefix un- occurs in Cymbeline, 1. vi. 36: "Upon the number'd beach" (Folio), where Theobald, I think rightly, conjectured unnumber'd."


152. changed] Compare Whetstone's Promos and Cassandra, 1575 (Nichol, Six Old Plays, i. 39): "with my mistress the world is chaunged well."

Adr. How ill agrees it with your gravity

To counterfeit thus grossly with your slave,
Abetting him to thwart me in my mood!
Be it my wrong you are from me exempt,
But wrong not that wrong with a more contempt.
Come, I will fasten on this sleeve of thine;
Thou art an elm, my husband, I a vine,
Whose weakness, married to thy stronger state,
Makes me with thy strength to communicate:



If aught possess thee from me, it is dross,

Usurping ivy, brier, or idle moss;

Who, all for want of pruning, with intrusion

Infect thy sap, and live on thy confusion.


Ant. S. To me she speaks; she moves me for her theme: What, was I married to her in my dream,

Or sleep I now, and think I hear all this?

175. stronger] F 4; stranger Ff 1, 2, 3. 177. aught] Warburton; ought Ff. 179. Who] Which Hanmer. 181-186. Marked "aside" by Capell. 181. moves] means Singer, ed. 2 (Collier); loves Keightley conj.; takes Gould conj.

171. exempt]"separated" or, rather, "privileged." "The sense is, if I am doomed to suffer the wrong of separation, yet injure not with contempt me who am already injured" (Johnson). Mason, however, thinks Adriana means to say that as Antipholus was her husband she had no power over him, and that he was privileged to do her wrong; and this is, in my opinion, the correct view. It seems to be supported by the passage in II. i. 109 sqq.

174. elm vine] Steevens quotes Ovid's tale of Vertumnus and Pomona [Metamorph. xiv. 665, 666]:

"Haec quoque, quae juncta vitis requiescit in ulmo

[blocks in formation]

What error drives our eyes and ears amiss?
Until I know this sure uncertainty,


I'll entertain the offered fallacy.

Luc. Dromio, go bid the servants spread for dinner.
Dro. S. O, for my beads! I cross me for


This is the fairy land: O, spite of spites!

We talk with fairies, goblins, elves, and sprites.


184. drives] draws Singer, ed. 2 (Collier). 186. offer'd] Capell; free'd Ff; favour'd Rowe (ed. 2); proffer'd Singer conj.; forced Grant White. 187, 193, 199. Luc.] Adr. Keightley conj. 188-202. Marked as spurious by Pope. 190. We talk] For here we talk Keightley. fairies, goblins] Editor; goblins Ff; ghosts and goblins Lettsom conj.; none but goblins Dyce (ed. 2). elves] Editor (Lettsom and Cartwright conj.); Owles F 1; ouphs Theobald. sprites] sprights F 1; Elves Sprights Ff 2, 3, 4; elvish sprights Pope; elves and sprights Hudson (Collier); fairy sprites Cartwright conj.

189, 195, 199. This is the fairy land transformed. . . ass] This passage certainly goes far to support the idea that when Shakespeare wrote it he was already dreaming of the fairy world of A Midsummer-Night's Dream, and of Bully Bottom's transformation to an ass; but there can be little doubt that he obtained his immediate hints from the comedies of Lyly. See Introduction.

[ocr errors]

190. We talk... sprites] This line as printed in the first Folio is clearly defective. I think the word "fairies" has dropped out before "goblins," chiefly by reason of the occurrence of fairy" in the preceding line: and if this be so, the only material question is whether we should read ouphes (oufes) or elves instead of owls. Theobald's reading, ouphes, is, in a measure, supported by its occurrence in Merry Wives of Windsor, IV. iv. 49: "Like urchins, ouphes and fairies, green and white"; and v. v. 61: "Strew good luck, ouphes, on every sacred room." But ouph (ouf) is a form of auf or oaf, which is only another form of its cognate elf, i.e. fairy. Auf meant, according to the New Eng. Dict., "an elf's child, a goblin child, a changeling left by the

[ocr errors]

fairies; hence a misbegotten, deformed, or idiot-child, a half-wit, simpleton." Now, inasmuch as Shakespeare is here speaking of the fairy land and uses the form "ouphes' only in the two above quoted passages in the Merry Wives of Windsor, whilst he uses "elves" at least half-a-dozen times, e.g. in the Midsummer-Night's Dream, Merry Wives of Windsor, and The Tempest, I think the balance of probability inclines in favour of the reading "elves"; and hence that Theobald's reading should not be adopted. "Elves" is also supported by the reading in the second Folio, for what that is worth. It is difficult to see any connection between fairy land (which expression is really the governing factor of the passage) and "owls." The latter were repellent to the fairies: see Midsummer-Night's Dream, II. ii. 5, where Titania says, "Some keep back the clamorous owl." The quotations from the older commentators in support of the reading of the first Folio may be found in the Variorum editions of 1803 and 1821. But notwithstanding their opinions, supported as these are by a considerable parade of learning, I think owls cannot be retained in the text,

If we obey them not, this will ensue,

They'll suck our breath, or pinch us black and blue. Luc. Why prat'st thou to thyself, and answer'st not?

Dromio, thou drone, thou snail, thou slug, thou sot!
Dro. S. I am transformed, master, am I not?
Ant. S. I think thou art, in mind, and so am I.

Dro. S. Nay, master, both in mind and in my shape.
Ant. S. Thou has thine own form.

Dro. S.

No, I am an ape.

Luc. If thou art changed to aught, 'tis to an ass.
Dro. S. 'Tis true; she rides me, and I long for grass.
'Tis so, I am an ass; else it could never be

But I should know her as well as she knows me.

Adr. Come, come; no longer will I be a fool,

3, 4.

To put the finger in the eye and weep,



Whilst man and master laughs my woes to scorn. 205
Come, sir, to dinner. Dromio, keep the gate.
Husband, I'll dine above with you to-day,

And shrive you of a thousand idle pranks.

192. or] and Theobald. 193. and answer'st not ?] F 1; omitted by Ff 2, 194. Dromio, thou drone, thou snail] Theobald; Dromio, thou Dromio, thou snaile Ff 1; Dromio, thou Dromio, snaile Ff 2, 3, 4. 195. am I not?] Ff; am not I? Theobald. 199. aught] Warburton; ought Ff. 204. the eye] thy eye Ff 2, 3; my eye Collier. 205. laughs] Ff; laugh Pope. and chiefly on the simple ground that Iv. ii. 75: "And in Cheapside shall the expressions "This is the fairy my palfrey go to grass." Craig conland" and ". we talk" must imply a siders there is here a quibble on the conversation with fairies, i.e. beings sense "I long to sink to the ground of human shape; unless it can be under the heavy weight of my rider." imagined that owls assumed the human form, and we have no warrant for this, or that these birds had any agency over mortals.

194. drone] Theobald's reading may almost be styled certissima.

194. sot] fool: in this sense in half a dozen other passages in the plays. 200. grass] Compare 2 Henry VI.

204. To put weep] In mild derision of the childish habit. See the Taming of the Shrew, 1. i. 79:"A pretty peat! it is best

Put finger in the eye, an she knew why." 208. shrive you]

"That is, I will call you to confession, and make you tell your tricks" (Johnson).

« IndietroContinua »