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TROILUS AND CRESSIDA.
ACT I.....SCENE I.
Troy. Before Priam's Palace.
Enter TROILUS armed, and PANDARUS.
Tro. Call here my varlet, I'll unarm again:
Pan. Will this geer ne'er be mended?1
Tro. The Greeks are strong, and skilful to their strength,2
Fierce to their skill, and to their fierceness valiant;
my varlet,] 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.
Concerning the word varlet, see Recherches historiques sur les cartes à jouer. Lyon, 1757, p. 61. M. C Tutet.
1 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.
2 skilful to their strength, &c.] i. e. in addition to their strength. The same phraseology occurs in Macbeth. See Vol. VII, p. 15, n. 4. Steevens.
-fonder —] i. e. more weak, or foolish. See Vol. IV, p.. 382, n. 8. Malone.
And skill-less as unpractis'd infancy.
Pan. Well, I have told you enough of this: for my part, I'll not meddle nor make no further. He, that will have a cake out of the wheat, must tarry the grinding.
Tro. Have I not tarried?
Pan. Ay, the grinding; but you must tarry the bolting.
Tro. Have I not tarried?
Pan. Ay, the bolting; but you must tarry the leavening.
Tro. Still have I tarried.
Pan. Ay, to the leavening: but here's yet in the word -hereafter, the kneading, the making of the cake the heating of the oven, and the baking; nay, you must stay the cooling too, or you may chance to burn your lips. Tro. Patience herself, what goddess e'er she be, Doth lesser blench at sufferance than I do.
At Priam's royal table do I sit;
And when fair Cressid comes into my thoughts,—
Tro. I was about to tell thee,-When my heart,
4 And skill-less &c.] Mr. Dryden, in his alteration of this play, has taken this speech as it stands, except that he has changed skill-less to artless, not for the better, because skill-less refers to skill and skilful Johnson.
5 Doth lesser blench-] To blench is to shrink, start, or fly off So, in Hamlet:
if he but blench, "I know my course
Again, in The Pilgrim, by Beaumont and Fletcher:
"men that will not totter,
"Nor blench much at a bullet." Steevens.
when she comes!—When is she thence?] Both the old copies read--then she comes, when she is thence. Mr. Rowe corrected the former error, and Mr. Pope the latter. Malone.
7—a storm,)] Old copies-a scorn. Corrected by Mr. Rowe. Malone.
See Ling Lear, Act III, sc. i.
Bury'd this sigh in wrinkle of a smile:
But sorrow, that is couch'd in seeming gladness,
Pan. An her hair were not somewhat darker than Helen's, (well, go to,) there were no more comparison between the women,-But, for my part, she is my kinswoman; I would not, as they term it, praise her,-But I would somebody had heard her talk yesterday, as I did. I will not dispraise your sister Cassandra's wit: but
Tro. O Pandarus! I tell thee, Pandarus,-
In Cressid's love: Thou answer'st, She is fair;
8 ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ in wrinkle of a smile:] So, in Twelfth Night: "He doth smile his face into more lines than the new map with the augmentation of the Indies." Malone.
Again, in The Merchant of Venice:
"With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come." Steevens.
9 Handlest in thy discourse, O, that her hand, &c.] Handlest is here used metaphorically, with an allusion, at the same time, to its literal meaning; and the jingle between hand and handlest is perfectly in our author's manner.
The beauty of a female hand seems to have made a strong impression on his mind Antony cannot endure that the hand of Cleopatra should be touched:
"" To let a fellow that will take rewards,
"On the white wonder of dear Juliet's hand."
In The Winter's Tale, Florizel, with equal warmth, and not less poetically, descants on the hand of his mistress:
66 -I take thy hand; this hand
"As soft as dove's down, and as white as it;
"Or Ethiopian's tooth; or the fann'd snow
"That's bolted by the northern blasts twice o'er."
This passage has, I think, been wrong pointed in the late editions:
Pour'st in the open ulcer of my heart
Her eyes, her hair, her cheek, her gait; her voice
In whose comparison all whites are ink,
Writing their own reproach; To whose soft seizure
Thou lay'st in every gash that love hath given me
Handlest in thy discourse;-O that her hand!
We have the same play of words in Titus Andronicus:
"Lest we remember still, that we have none!"
We may be certain therefore that those lines were part of the additions which our poet made to that play.
If the derivation of the verb to handle were always present to those who employed it, I know not well how Chapman could vindicate the following passage in his version of the 23d Iliad, where the most eloquent of the Greeks (old Nestor) reminds Antilochus that his horses
their slow feet handle not.”
The intentionally quaint phrase--" taste your legs," introduced in Twelfth Night, is not more ridiculous than to talk of horses"handling their feet."
Though our author has many and very considerable obligations to Mr. Malone, I cannot regard his foregoing supposition as one of them; for in what does it consist? In making Shakspeare answerable for two of the worst lines in a degraded play merely because they exhibit a jingle similar to that in the speech before Steevens.
and spirit of sense
Hard as the palm of ploughman!] In comparison with Cressida's hand, says he, the spirit of sense, the utmost degree, the most exquisite power of sensibility, which implies a soft hand, since the sense of touching, as Scaliger says in his Exercitations, resides chiefly in the fingers, is hard as the callous and insensible palm of the ploughman. Warburton reads:
spite of sense:
to th' spirit of sense.
It is not proper to make a lover profess to praise his mistress in spite of sense; for though he often does it in spite of the sense of others, his own senses are subdued to his desires. Johnson. Spirit of sense is a phrase that occurs again in the third Act of this play:
66 nor doth the eye itself,
"That most pure spirit of sense, behold itself.”
Mr. M. Mason (from whom I have borrowed this parallel) recommends Hanmer's emendation as a necessary one.
Pan. I speak no more than truth.
Tro. Thou dost not speak so much.
Pan. 'Faith, I'll not meddle in 't. Let her be as she is: if she be fair, 'tis the better for her; an she be not, she has the mends in her own hands.2
Tro. Good Pandarus! How now, Pandarus?
Pan. I have had my labour for my travel; ill-thought on of her, and ill-thought on of you: gone between and between, but smail thanks for my labour.
Tro. What, art thou angry, Pandarus? what, with me? Pan. Because she is kin to me, therefore, she 's not so fair as Helen: an she were not kin to me, she would be as fair on Friday, as Helen is on Sunday. But what care I? I care not, and she were a black-a-moor; 'tis all one to me.
Tro. Say I, she is not fair?
Pan. I do not care whether you do or no. She's a fool to stay behind her father;3 let her to the Greeks; and
she has the mends -] She may mend her complexion by the assistance of cosmeticks. Johnson.
I believe it rather means-She may make the best of a bad bargain. This is a proverbial saying.
So, in Woman's a Weathercock, 1612: "I shall stay here and have my head broke, and then I have the mends in my own hands."
Again, in S. Gosson's School of Abuse, 1579: "turne him with his back full of stripes, and his hands loden with his own amendes."
Again, in The Wild Goose Chase, by Beaumont and Fletcher: "The mends are in mine own hands, or the surgeon's." Again in Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, edit. 1632, p. 605: "-and if men will be jealous in such cases, the mends is in their owne hands, they must thank themselves." Steevens.
3 -to stay behind her father;] Calchas, according to Shak. speare's authority, The Destruction of Troy, was "a great learned bishop of Troy," who was sent by Priam to consult the oracle of Delphi concerning the event of the war which was threatened by Agamemnon. As soon as he had made "his oblations and demaunds for them of Troy, Apollo (says the book) aunswered unto him, saying; Calchas, Calchas, beware that thou returne not back again to Troy; but goe thou with Achylles, unto the Greekes, and depart never from them, for the Greekes shall have victorie of the Troyans by the agreement of the Gods." Hist. of the Destruction of Troy, translated by Caxton, 5th edit. 4to. 1617. This prudent bishop followed the advice of the Oracle, and immediately joined the Greeks. Malone.