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Milton seems to have been thinking of this passage in Comus.
“ Can any mortal mixture of earth's mould “ Breathe such divine enchanting ravishment ? “Sure something holy lodges in that breast,” &c.
57. “You have taken it wiselier than I meant.”
An adverb declined into the comparative adjective; as, again, in A Midsummer Night's Dream : “ And earthlier happy is the rose distill’d,” &c. 57. “ You've paid."
Mr. Malone's note appears to me ingeniously absurd. If you're paid be the true reading, the words must (as Mr. Mason has remarked,) be given to Sebastian; and this I think not improbable.
Twenty consciences, “That stand 'twixt me and Milan, candied
be they, “ And melt, ere they molest." Away with all such objections as conscience can oppose; let them be made of such perishable or dissoluble stuff as candy, and melt sooner than molest or hinder me.
84. Misery acquaints a man with strange
“ The art of our necessities is strange
ACT III. SCENE I.
Created “Of every creature's best.” I perceive no reason to dissent from Dr. Johnson's conjecture that this is an allusion to the picture of Venus by Apelles. Creature is still used in Ireland, absolutely without an epithet, as a term of endearment for a woman.
I thought it had been a common custom to join hands on making a bargain : by notes like this of Mr. Henley's, a book may be swelled to any size that will suit the editor's purpose.
104. “What a pied ninny's this.”
Mr. Steevens is right; Mr. Malone's remark is true, but there is no occasion to have recourse to it in the present instance; it is going out of the way to fix an impropriety on the poet who has improprieties enough of his own to answer for, without being loaded with those which are made by the ingenuity of his commentators.
I ne'er saw woman, “ But only Sycorax, my dam, and she.” As it does not appear that the poet intended to make Caliban violate grammar, she ought, at once, in the text, to be altered to her. “ Calls her a nonpareil ; I ne'er a woman.”
It is of little consequence whether the article a, in this line, be rejected or retained; the redundancy in the last syllable (admitted in dramatic verse) is, in either case, the same. “ Calls her a nonpareil ; I ne'er saw ă wom-an.” 117. -The elements,
Of whom your swords are temper'd, may
as well “Wound the loud wind, or with bemock’d
at stabs “ Kill the still-closing waters, as diminish
“One dowle that's in my plume.” This thought occurs in Macbeth. “As easy may'st thou the entrenchant air, “With thy keen sword, impress, as make me
And Milton uses it, in Paradise Lost, Book 6.
Spirits that live thro'out,
“ Cannot, but by annihilation, die:
Nor, in their liquid texture, mortal wound
The personal pronoun “ whom,” instead of the natural neuter which, is not accordant with English idiom. 119.
So, with good life, “ And observation strange, my meaner
ministers “ Their several kinds have done.” There seems to be a great deal of superfluous comment here :--the sense, I believe, is plainly this. Those meaner ministers have performed their duty with spirit, and an admirable attention to their distinct offices.
120. - I leave them, whilst I visit
Young Ferdinand, (whom they suppose
is drown'd.)” Strange, that any editor should overlook so barbarous a breach of grammar as this; and yet it has polluted the text in all the successive editions of Mr. Steevens, and the rest. Whom, a nominative case !-whom is ! for while the verb is remains, this must be the construction. Whom they suppose to be drown'd, would, indeed, be concord; but the expression is elliptical: who (as) they suppose is drown'd; i. e. who is drown’d (as they suppose.) 121. And with him there lie mudded.
But one fiend at a time.” I am ready to agree with Mr. Steevens that where, as in this instance and many others, the metre is redundant or incomplete, there is corruption; but I should rather repair the prosody here, by dismissing the words “but” and “ fiend.”
“ And with him there lie mudded." Seb.
one at a time, “ I'll fight their legions o'er.”
135. “This is strange : your father's in some
passion." Mr. Steevens remarks that this line is defective, and introduces the word most, to make it complete ; but it is less defective than redundant.
“ 'Tis strange ; your father's in some passion.”
Passion is here, as in various other places, a trisyllable.
“You do look, my son, in a mov'd sort.” A slight transposition, and the enlargement of a vowel, would restore this line to measure.
“You do, my son, look in a moved sort.” 140.
Advanc'd their eyelids.” . Thus in Act 1, p. 46. “ The fringed curtains of thine eye advance.”