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A Room in ANGELO's House.
Enter AngelO8. Ang. When I would pray and think, I think and
pray To several subjects: heaven hath my empty words; Whilst my invention', hearing not my tongue,
8 Enter Angelo.] Promos, in the play already quoted, has likewise a soliloquy previous to the second appearance of Cassandra. It begins thus :
“ Do what I can, no reason cooles desire :
&c. STEEVENS. 9 Whilst my invention] Nothing can be either plainer or exacter than this expression. [Dr. Warburton means-intention, a word substituted by himself.] But the old blundering folio having it invention, this was enough for Mr. Theobald to prefer authority to sense. WARBURTON.
Intention (if it be the true reading) has, in this instance, more than its common meaning, and signifies eagerness of desire.
So, in The Merry Wives of Windsor : “ - course o'er my exteriors, with such greediness of intenBy invention, however, I believe the poet means imagination.
STEEVENS. So, in our author's 103d Sonnet :
" - a face,
“ That overgoes my blunt invention quite." Again, in K. Henry V.:
“ O for a muse of fire, that would ascend
“ The brightest heaven of invention!” MALONE. Steevens says that intention, in this place, means eagerness of desire :--but I believe it means attention only, a sense in which the word is frequently used by Shakspeare and the other writers of his time.-Angelo says, he thinks and prays to several subjects; that Heaven has his prayers, but his thoughts are fixed on Isabel. So, in Hamlet, the King says :
Anchors on Isabel': Heaven in my mouth,
“My words fly up, my thoughts remain below :
M. Mason. i Anchors on Isabel :) We have the same singular expression in Antony and Cleopatra :
“ There would he anchor his aspect, and die
“ With looking on his life.” Malone. The same phrase occurs again in Cymbeline :
« Posthumus anchors upon Imogen." STEEVENS. 2 Grown FEAR'd and tedious ;] We should read seared, i. e. old. So, Shakspeare uses in the sear, to signify old age.
WARBURTON. I think fear'd may stand. What we go to with reluctance may be said to be fear'd. Johnson.
3 withboot,] Boot is profit, advantage, gain. So, in M. Kyffin's translation of The Andria of Terence, 1588: “ You obtained this at my hands, and I went about it while there was any boot.” Again, in The Pinner of Wakefield, 1599:
“ Then list to me: Saint Andrew be my boot,
“ But I'll raze thy castle to the very ground.” STEEVENS. 3- case,] For outside; garb; external shew. Johnson. 6 Wrench awe from fools, and tie the wiser souls
To thy false seeming?] Here Shakspeare judiciously distinguishes the different operations of high place upon different minds. Fools are frighted, and wise men are allured. Those who cannot judge but by the eye, are easily awed by splendour; those who consider men as well as conditions, are easily persuaded to love the appearance of virtue dignified with power. Johnson,
7 - Blood, thou still art blood:] The old copy reads
Let's write good angel on the devil's horn, 'Tis not the devil's crest ®.
Blood, thou art blood. Mr. Pope, to supply the syllable wanting to complete the metre, reads—“Blood, thou art but blood !" But the word now introduced appears to me to agree better with the context, and therefore more likely to have been the author's. Blood is used here, as in other places, for temperament of body.
MALONE. 8 Let's write good angel on the devil's horn,
'Tis not the devil's crest.) i, e. Let the most wicked thing have but a virtuous pretence, and it shall pass for innocent. This was his conclusion from his preceding words :
" O form!
“ To thy false seeming ?" But the Oxford editor makes him conclude just counter to his own premises ; by altering it to
“ Is't not the devil's crest ?" So that, according to this alteration, the reasoning stands thus : “False seeming, wrenches awe from fools, and deceives the wise.” Therefore, “Let us but write good angel on the devil's horn,” (i. e. give him the appearance of an angel,) and what then?“ Is't not the devil's crest?” (i. e, he shall be esteemed a devil.)
WARBURTON. I am still inclined to the opinion of the Oxford editor. Angelo, reflecting on the difference between his seeming character, and his real disposition, observes, that he “ could change his gravity for a plume.” He then digresses into an apostrophe,“ dignity, how dost thou impose upon the world !" then returning to himself, “ Blood (says he) thou art but blood,” however concealed with appearances and decorations. Title and character do not alter nature, which is still corrupt, however dignified :
“Let's write good angel on the devil's horn;
“ Is't not?—or rather-'Tis yet the devil's crest." It may however be understood, according to Dr. Warburton's explanation : “ O place, how dost thou impose upon the world by false appearances !” so much, that if we “write good angel on the devil's horn, 'tis not taken any longer to be the devil's crest." In this sense
“ Blood, thou art but blood !" is an interjected exclamation. Johnson. A Hebrew proverb seems to favour Dr. Johnson's reading :
“ 'Tis yet the devil's crest.” “A nettle standing among myrtles, doth notwithstanding retain the name of a nettle." STEEVENS.
One Isabel, a sister,
[Erit Sero. Why does my blood thus muster to my heart'; Making both it unable for itself, And dispossessing all the other parts Of necessary fitness ? So play the foolish throngs with one that swoons ; Come all to help him, and so stop the air By which he should revive: and even so The general, subject to a well-wish'd king,'
· This passage, as it stands, appears to me to be right, and Angelo's reasoning to be this: “O place! O form! though you wrench awe from fools, and tie even wiser souls to your false seeming, yet you make no alteration in the minds or constitutions of those who possess, or assume you. Though we should write good angel on the devil's horn, it will not change his nature, so as to give him a right to wear that crest." It is well known that the crest was formerly chosen either as emblematical of some quality conspicuous in the person who bore it, or as alluding to some remarkable incident of his life ; and on this circumstance depends the justness of the present allusion.
My explanation of these words is confirmed by a passage in Lyly's Midas, quoted by Steevens, in his remarks on King John : “ Melancholy! is melancholy a word for a barber's mouth? Thou shouldst say, heavy, dull, and doltish : melancholy is the crest of courtiers.” M. Mason.
It should be remembered, that the devil is usually represented with “ horns and cloven feet.” The old copy appears to me to require no alteration. Malone.
9- to my heart ;] Of this speech there is no other trace in Promos and Cassandra, than the following : “Both hope and dreade at once my harte doth tuch.”
STEEVENS. i The general, SUBJECT to a well-wish'd king,] The later editions have — “subjects ; " but the old copies read :
“The general subject to a well-wish'd king." The general subject seems a harsh expression, but general sub
Quit their own part, and in obsequious fondness Croud to his presence, where their untaught love Must needs appear offence.
jects has no sense at all, and general was, in our author's time, a word for people ; so that the general is the people, or multitude, subject to a king. So, in Hamlet : “ The play pleased not the million : 'twas caviare to the general." JOHNSON
Mr. Malone observes, that the use of this phrase, “the general," for the people, continued so late as to the time of Lord Clarendon: “as rather to be consented to, than that the general should suffer." Hist. b. v. p. 530, 8vo. I therefore adhere to the old reading, with only a slight change in the punctuation :
“ The general, subject to a well-wish'd king,
“ Quit, &c.” i. e. the generality who are subjects, &c. Twice in Hamlet our author uses subject for subjects :
“ So nightly toils the subject of the land." Act I. Sc. I. Again, Act I. Sc. II.:
“ The lists and full proportions, all are made
“ Out of his subject." The general subject however may mean the subjects in general. So, in As You Like It, Act II. Sc. VII. : “Wouldst thou disgorge into the general world.”
STEEVENS. So the Duke had before (Act I. Sc. II.) expressed his dislike of popular applause:
“ l'll privily away. I love the people,
“ That does affect it.” I cannot help thinking that Shakspeare, in these two passages, intended to flatter the unkingly weakness of James the First, which made him so impatient of the crouds that flocked to see him, especially upon his first coming, that, as some of our historians say, he restrained them by a proclamation. Sir Simonds D'Ewes, in his Memoirs of his own Life *, has a remarkable passage with regard to this humour of James. After taking notice, that the King going to parliament, on the 30th of January, 1620-1, “spake lovingly to the people, and said, God bless ye, God bless ye;" he adds these words, “ contrary to his former
* A Manuscript in the British Museum.