Page images

the volubility of the butter-woman selling her wares, was here alone in our author's contemplation, and that he wrote-rate at market. But I am now persuaded that Sir T. Hanmer's' emendation is right. The hobling metre of these verses (says Touchstone) is like the ambling, shuffling, pace of a butter-woman's horse, going to market. The same kind of imagery is found in the first part of King Henry IV.

" And that would set my teeth nothing on edge,
“ Nothing so much, as mincing poetry ;
".. 'Tis like the forc'd gait of a shuffling nag.'

MALONE. 143. Why should this desert be ?] This is commonly printed :

Why should this a desert be? but although the metre may be assisted by this correction, the sense is still defective ; for how will the hanging of tongues on every tree, make it less a desert ? I am persuaded we ought to read,

Why should this desert silent be? TYRWHITT. The notice which this emendation deserves, I have paid to it, by inserting it in the text.

STEEVENS. 146. That shall civil sayings show.] Civil is here used in the same sense as when we say civil wisdom or civil tife, in opposition to a solitary state, or to the state of nature. This desert shall not appear unpeopled, for every tree shall teach the maxims or inci. dents of social life.

JOHNSON, See catch-word Alphabet. 159. Therefore heaven nature charg'd] From the


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

picture of Apelles, or the accomplishments of Pana dora.

Πανδώρην, ότι πάνlε. 'Ολύμπια δώματ' έχουλες

Δώρον εδώρησαν,
So, before :

-But thou,
« So perfect, and so peerless, art created

« Of ev'ry creature's best.Tempest. Perhaps from this passage Swift had his hint of Biddy Floyd.

JOHNSON. 165. Atalanta's better part;] I know not well what could be the better part of Atalanta here ascribed to Rosalind. Of the Atalanta most celebrated, and who therefore must be intended here where she has no epithet of discrimination, the better part seems to have been her heels, and the worse part was so bad, that Rosalind would not thank her lover for the compari.

There is a inore obscure Atalanta, a huntress and a heroine, but of her nothing bad is recorded, and therefore I know not which is her better part. Shakspere was no despicable mythologist, yet he seems here to have mistaken some other character for that of Atalanta.

JOHNSON 166. Perhaps the poet means her beauty and graceful elegance of shape, which he would prefer to her swiftness. Thus Ovid:

nec dicere posses,
Laude pedum, formæne bono præstantior esset.
". Ut faciem, et posito corpus velamine videt,
“ Obstupuit-


[ocr errors]


But cannot Atalanta's better part mean her virtue or virgin chastity, with which nature had graced Rosalind, together with Helen's beauty without her heart or lewdness, with Cleopatra's dignity of behaviour, and with Lucretia's modesty, that scorned to survive the loss of honour? Pliny's Nat. Hist. b. xxxv. c. 3. mentions the portraits of Atalanta and Helen, utraque excellentissima forma, sed altera ut virgo.

That is, « both of them for beauty incomparable, and yet a man may discerne the one [Atalanta] of them to be a maiden, for her modest and chaste countenance," as Dr. P. Holland translated the passage, of which, probably, our poet had taken .notice, for surely he had judgment in painting.


suppose Atalanta's better part is her wit, i. e, the swiftness of her mind.

FARMER. Shakspere might have taken part of this enumera. tion of distinguished females from John Grange's Golden Aphroditis, 1577.

--who seemest in my sight faire Helen of Troy, Polixene, Calliope, yea Atlanta hir selfe in beauty to surpasse, Pandora in qualities, Penelope and Lucretia in chastenesse to deface." Again, ibid :

“ Polixene, fayre, Caliop, and

“ Penelop may give place ;
" Atlanta and dame Lucres fayre

“ She doth them both deface." Again, ibid: Atlanta who sometyme bore the bell of beauties price in that hyr native soyle.”'

[ocr errors]

It may be observed that Statius also, in his sixth Thebaid, has confounded Atalanta the wife of Hippomenes, and daughter of Siconeus, with Atalanta the daughter of Oenomaus, and wife of Pelops.

STEEVENS. See Atalanta, catch-word Alphabet.

I think this stanza was formed on an old tetrastick epitaph, which, as I have done, Mr. Steevens may possibly have read in a country church-yard :

" She who is dead and sleepeth in this tomb, “ Had Rachel's comely face, and Leah's fruitful

womb, “ Sarah's obedience, Lydia's open heart, « And Martha's care, and Mary's better part."

WHALLEY. Sad] is grave, sober, not light. JOHNSON. 170, The touches] The features; les traits.

JOHNSON. 195. I was never so be-rhimed since Pythagoras' time, that I was an Irish rat,] Rosalind is a very learned lady. She alludes to the Pythagorean doctrine, which teaches that souls transmigrate from one animal to another, and relates that in his time she was an Irish rat, and by some metrical charm was rhymed to death. The power of killing rats with rhymes Donne mentions in his Satires, and Temple in his Treatises. Dr. Grey has produced a similar passage from Randolph :

-My poets Shall with a satire, steeped in gall and vinegar, Rhyme them to death as they do rats in Ireland.”



So, in an address to the reader, at the conclusion of
Ben Jonson's Poetaster :

" Rhime them to death as they do Irish rats
“ In drumming tunes."

STEEVER 5. Again in his Staple of News, 1625: “ Or the fine madrigal in rhyme, to have run him out of the country like an Irish rat."

MALONE. 203. friends to meet;] Alluding ironically to the proverb: “ Friends may meet, but mountains never greet."

See Ray's Collection. STEEVENS. 204 but mountains may be removed with earthquakes, and 'so encounter.] “ Montes duo inter se concurrent, &c." says Pliny, Hist. Nat. lib. ii. c. 83. or in Holland's translation: “ Two hills (removed by an earthquake] encountered together, charging as it were, and with violence assaulting one another, ånd rétyring again with a most mighty noise.” Tollet.

212. Out of all whooping!] So, in the Old Ballad of Yorke, Yorke for my money, &c. 1584:

" And then was shooting out of cry

The skantling at a handful nie." Again, in the old bl. l. comedy called Commons Con. ditions :

“ I have be-raced myself out of crie.STEEVENS.

213. Good my complexion !] This is a mode of expreso sion, Mr. Theobald says, which he cannot reconcile to

Like enough : and so too the Oxford editor. But the meaning is, Hold good my complexion, i. e. let me not blush.



common sense.

« PreviousContinue »