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But what's the matter?
1 GENT. His daughter, and the heir of his kingdom, whom
proposed, Sir Thomas Hanmer's is the more licentious; but he makes the sense clear, and leaves the reader an easy passage. Dr. Warburton has corrected with more caution, but less improvement: his reasoning upon his own reading is so obscure and perplexed, that I suspect some injury of the press.-I am now to tell my opinion, which is, that the lines stand as they were originally written, and that a paraphrase, such as the licentious and abrupt expressions of our author too frequently require, will make emendation unnecessary. "We do not meet a man but frowns; our bloods-" our countenances, which, in popular speech, are said to be regulated by the temper of the blood,-"no more obey the laws of heaven," -which direct us to appear what we really are," than our courtiers: "—that is, than the bloods of our courtiers ;' but our bloods, like theirs," still seem, as doth the king's." JOHNSON.
In The Yorkshire Tragedy, 1608, which has been attributed to Shakspeare, blood appears to be used for inclination :
"For 'tis our blood to love what we are forbidden." Again, in King Lear, Act IV. Sc. II. :
Were it my fitness
"To let these hands obey my blood."
In King Henry VIII. Act III. Šc. IV. is the same thought:
Again, in Greene's Never Too Late, 4to. 1590: "if the King smiled, every one in the court was in his jollitie; if he frowned, their plumes fell like peacock's feathers, so that their outward. presence depended on his inward passions." STEEvens.
I would propose to make this passage clear by a very slight alteration, only leaving out the last letter:
"You do not meet a man but frowns: our bloods
That is, "Still look as the king does;" or, as he expresses it a little differently afterwards:
wear their faces to the bent
"Of the king's look." TYRWHITT.
The only error that I can find in this passage is, the mark of the genitive case annexed to the word courtiers, which appears to be a modern innovation, and ought to be corrected. The meaning of it is this: Our dispositions no more obey the heavens than our courtiers do; they still seem as the king's does." The obscurity arises from the omission of the pronoun they, by a common poetical licence. M. MASON.
He purpos'd to his wife's sole son, (a widow,
None but the king?
1 GENT. He, that hath lost her, too: so is the queen,
That most desir'd the match: But not a courtier,
And why so? 1 GENT. He that hath miss'd the princess, is a thing
Too bad for bad report: and he that hath her,
Blood is so frequently used by Shakspeare for natural disposition, that there can be no doubt concerning the meaning here. So, in All's Well That Ends Well:
"Now his important blood will nought deny
We have again, in Antony and Cleopatra, a sentiment similar to that before us :
for he would shine on those
"That made their looks by his." MALONE.
This passage means, I think, "Our bloods, or our constitutions, are not more regulated by the heavens, by every skyey influence, than our courtiers apparently are by the looks or disposition of the King: when he frowns, every man frowns." Boswell.
Her husband banish'd; she imprison'd: all
Is outward sorrow; &c.] I would reform the metre as follows:
Wed is used for wedded, in The Comedy of Errors:
"In Syracusa was I born, and wed." STEEVENS.
For one his like, there would be something failing
2 GENT. You speak him far3. 1 GENT. I do extend him, sir, within himself *; Crush him together, rather than unfold His measure duly.
Was call'd Sicilius, who did join his honour,
What's his name, and birth? 1 GENT. I cannot delve him to the root: His father
3 You speak him FAR.] You are lavish in your him your eulogium has a wide compass. MALONE. "You speak him far," i. e. you praise him extensively.
4 I do EXTEND him, sir, WITHIN himself;] I extend him within himself: my praise, however extensive, is within his merit. JOHNSON.
My eulogium, however extended it may seem, is short of his real excellence; it is rather abbreviated than expanded.-We have again the same expression in a subsequent scene: 66 The approbation of those that weep this lamentable divorce, are wonderfully to extend him." Again, in The Winter's Tale: "The report of her is extended more than can be thought." MALONE. Perhaps this passage may be somewhat illustrated by the following lines in Troilus and Cressida, Act III. Sc. III. : no man is the lord of any thing, “Till he communicate his parts to others: "Nor doth he of himself know them for aught, "Till he behold them form'd in the applause "Where they are extended," &c. STEEVENS. S CRUSH him-] So, in King Henry IV. Part II.: "Croud us and crush us in this monstrous form."
who did join his HONOUR
Against the Romans, with Cassibelan ;] I do not understand what can be meant by "joining his honour against, &c. with, &c." Perhaps our author wrote:
did join his banner 'Against the Romans," &c.
But had his titles by Tenantius”, whom
(Then old and fond of issue,) took such sorrow,
In King John, says the Bastard, let us―
and in the last speech of the play before us, Cymbeline proposes that 'a Roman and a British ensign should wave together."
7 Tenantius,] Was the father of Cymbeline, and nephew of Cassibelan, being the younger son of his elder brother Lud, king of the southern part of Britain; on whose death Cassibelan was admitted king. Cassibelan repulsed the Romans on their first attack, but being vanquished by Julius Cæsar on his second invasion of Britain, he agreed to pay an annual tribute to Rome. After his death, Tenantius, Lud's younger son (his elder brother Androgeus having fled to Rome) was established on the throne, of which they had been unjustly deprived by their uncle. According to some authorities, Tenantius quietly paid the tribute stipulated by Cassibelan; according to others, he refused to pay it, and warred with the Romans. Shakspeare supposes the latter to be the truth. Holinshed, who furnished our poet with these facts, furnished him also with the name of Sicilius, who was admitted King of Britain, A. M. 3659. The name of Leonatus he found in Sidney's Arcadia. Leonatus is there the legitimate son of the blind King of Paphlagonia, on whose story the episode of Gloster, Edgar, and Edmund, is formed in King Lear. Arcadia, p. 69, edit. 1593. MALONE.
Shakspeare, having already introduced Leonato among the characters in Much Ado About Nothing, had not far to go for Leonatus.
Posthumus;] Old copy-Posthumus Leonatus. REED.
Could make him the receiver of; which he took,
Liv'd in court,
(Which rare it is to do,) most prais'd, most lov'd:] This encomium is high and artful. To be at once in any great degree loved and praised, is truly rare. JOHNSON.
A glass that FEATED them ;] A glass that formed them; a model, by the contemplation and inspection of which they formed their manners. JOHNSON.
This passage may be well explained by another in The First Part of King Henry IV.:
He was indeed the glass
"Wherein the noble youths did dress themselves."
Again, Ophelia describes Hamlet as
"The glass of fashion, and the mould of form." To dress themselves, therefore, may be to form themselves. Dresser, in French, is to form. To dress a spaniel is to break him in.
Feat is nice, exact. So, in The Tempest :
look, how well my garments sit upon me,
"Much feater than before.”
To feat, therefore, may be a verb meaning-to render nice, exact. By the dress of Posthumus, even the more mature courtiers condescended to regulate their external appearance.
Feat Minsheu interprets, fine, neat, brave. See also Barrett's Alvearie, 1580: "Feat and pleasant, concinnæ et venustæ sententiæ."
The poet does not, I think, mean to say merely, that the more mature regulated their dress by that of Posthumus. A glass that feated them, is a model, by viewing which their form became more elegant, and their manners more polished.
We have nearly the same image in The Winter's Tale :
"To see you so attir'd; sworn, I think,
Again, more appositely in Hamlet :
"He was the mark and glass, copy and book,
2 -To his mistress,] Means-as to his mistress. M. MASON.