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And so he plays his part: The sixth age shifts
I am in doubt whether modern is in this place used for absurd: the meaning seems to be, that the justice is full of old sayings and late examples. JOHNSON.
Modern means trite, common. So, in King John :
"And scorns a modern invocation."
Again, in this play, Act IV. Sc. I. : betray themselves to modern censure." STEEVENS.
Again, in All's Well that Ends Well, Act II. Sc. III.: “ make modern and familiar things supernatural and causeless."
The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd PANTALOON;] There is a greater beauty than appears at first sight in this image. He is here comparing human life to a stage play of seven Acts (which is no unusual division before our author's time). The sixth he calls the lean and slipper'd pantaloon, alluding to that general character in the Italian comedy, called Il Pantalone; who is a thin emaciated old man in slippers; and well designed, in that epithet, because Pantalone is the only character that acts in slippers.
In The Travels of the Three English Brothers, a comedy, 1606, [as Mr. Capell has remarked,] an Italian Harlequin is introduced, who offers to perform a play at a Lord's house, in which, among other characters, he mentions "a jealous coxcomb, and an old Pantaloune." But this is seven years later than the date of the play before us: nor do I know from whence our author could learn the circumstance mentioned by Dr. Warburton, that "Pantalóne is the only character in the Italian comedy that acts in slippers." In Florio's Italian Dictionary, 1598, the word is not found. In The Taming of a Shrew, one of the characters, if I remember right, is called "an old Pantaloon,” but there is no farther description of him.
Nashe, in Pierce Pennilesse his Supplication to the Devil, 1592, commending the English Theatres, says, "our stage is more stately furnished, not consisting, like theirs, of a Pantaloun, a whore, and a Zanie," &c. but he does not describe the dress of the Pantaloon. MALONE.
6 the lean and slipper'd PANTALOON,
With SPECTACLES on nose,] So, in The Plotte of the Deade Man's Fortune :
[See vol. iii.] "Enter the panteloun and
pescode with spectakles." STEEVENS.
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Is second childishness, and mere oblivion;
Re-enter ORLANDO, with ADAM.
DUKE S. Welcome: Set down your venerable burden 7.
And let him feed.
I thank you most for him.
ADAM. So had you need ;
I scarce can speak to thank you for myself.
DUKE S. Welcome, fall to: I will not trouble
As yet, to question you about your fortunes :-
Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
As man's ingratitude®;
Set down your venerable burden,] Is it not likely that Shakspeare had in his mind this line of the Metamorphoses? xiii. 125:
Fert humeris, venerabile onus, Cythereius heros.
A. Golding, p. 169, b. edit. 1587, translates it thus:
upon his backe
"His aged father and his gods, an honorable packe."
8 Thou art not so UNKIND, &c.] That is, thy action is not so contrary to thy kind, or to human nature, as the ingratitude of man. So, in our author's Venus and Adonis, 1593:
Thy tooth is not so keen,
"O had thy mother borne so bad a mind,
"She had not brought forth thee, but dy'd unkind."
9 Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,] This song is designed to suit the Duke's exiled condition, who had been ruined by ungrateful flatterers. Now the winter wind, the song says, is to be preferred to man's ingratitude. But why? Because it is not seen. But this was not only an aggravation of the injury, as it was done in secret, not seen, but was the very circumstance that made the keenness of the ingratitude of his faithless courtiers. Without doubt, Shakspeare wrote the line thus:
"Because thou art not sheen,"
i. e. smiling, shining, like an ungrateful court-servant, who flatters while he wounds, which was a very good reason for giving the winter wind the preference. So, in A Midsummer-Night's Dream:
"Spangled star-light sheen."
And several other places. Chaucer uses it in this sense:
Your blissful sister Lucina the shene."
"The sacred angel took his target shene,
"And by the Christian champion stood unseen."
The Oxford editor, who had this emendation communicated to him, takes occasion from hence to alter the whole line thus:
66 Thou causest not that teen."
But, in his rage of correction, he forgot to leave the reason, which is now wanting-Why the winter wind was to be preferred to man's ingratitude. WARBURTON.
I am afraid that no reader is satisfied with Dr. Warburton's emendation, however vigorously enforced; and it is indeed enforced with more art than truth. Sheen, i. e. smiling, shining. That sheen signifies shining, is easily proved, but when or where did it signify smiling? yet smiling gives the sense necessary in this place. Sir T. Hanmer's change is less uncouth, but too remote from the present text. For my part, I question whether the original line is not lost, and this substituted merely to fill up the measure and the rhyme. Yet even out of this line, by strong agitation may sense be elicited, and sense not unsuitable to the occasion. Thou winter wind, says Amiens, thy rudeness gives the less pain, as thou art not seen, as thou art an enemy that dost not brave us with thy presence, and whose unkindness is therefore not aggravated by insult. JOHNSON.
Heigh, ho! sing, heigh, ho! unto the green holly: Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly :
Then, heigh, ho, the holly!
Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
That dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp',
Though the old text may be tortured into a meaning, perhaps it would be as well to read:
66 Because the heart's not seen."
y harts, according to the ancient mode of writing, was easily corrupted. FARMER.
So, in the Sonnet introduced into Love's Labour's Lost:
"All unseen 'gan passage find." STEEVENS.
Again, in Measure for Measure:
"To be imprison'd in the viewless winds." MALOne. Though thou the waters WARP,] The surface of waters, so long as they remain unfrozen, is apparently a perfect plane; whereas, when they are, this surface deviates from its exact flatness, or warps. This is remarkable in small ponds, the surface of which, when frozen, forms a regular concave; the ice on the sides rising higher than that in the middle. KENRICK.
To warp was, probably, in Shakspeare's time, a colloquial word, which conveyed no distant allusion to any thing else, physical or mechanical. To warp is to turn, and to turn is to change: when milk is changed by curdling, we now say it is turned: when water is changed or turned by frost, Shakspeare says, it is curdled. To be warp'd is only to be changed from its natural state.
Dr. Johnson is certainly right. So, in Cynthia's Revels, of Ben Jonson: "I know not, he's grown out of his garb a-late, he's warp'd.-And so, methinks too, he is much converted." Thus the mole is called the mould-warp, because it changes the appearance of the surface of the earth. Again, in The Winter's Tale, Act I.:
My favour here begins to warp."
Dr. Farmer supposes warp'd to mean the same as curdled, and adds that a similar idea occurs in Timon:
"That curdled by the frost," &c. STEEVENS.
Among a collection of Saxon adages in Hickes's Thesaurus, vol. i. p. 221, the succeeding appears: pinter rceal geþeonpan
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remember'd not 2.
Heigh, ho! sing, heigh, ho! &c.
DUKE S. If that you were the good sir Rowland's
As you have whisper'd faithfully, you were;
peden, winter shall warp water. So that Shakspeare's expression was anciently proverbial. It should be remarked, that among the numerous examples in Manning's excellent edition of Lye's Dictionary, there is no instance of peonpan or gepeonpan, implying to freeze, bend, turn, or curdle, though it is a verb of very extensive signification.
Probably this word still retains a similar sense in the northern part of the island, for in a Scottish parody on Dr. Percy's elegant ballad, beginning, "O Nancy, wilt thou gang with me," I find the verse "Nor shrink before the wintry wind," is altered to "Nor shrink before the warping wind." HOLT WHITE.
The meaning is this: Though the very waters, by thy agency, are forced, against the law of their nature, to bend from their stated level, yet thy sting occasions less anguish to man, than the ingratitude of those he befriended. HENLEY.
Wood is said to warp when its surface, from being level, becomes bent and uneven; from warpan, Saxon, to cast. So, in this play, Act III. Sc. III: "then one of you will prove a shrunk pannel, and, like green timber, warp, warp." I doubt whether the poet here alludes to any operation of frost. The meaning may be only, Thou bitter wintry sky, though thou curlest the waters, thy sting, &c. Thou in the line before us refers only to-bitter sky. The influence of the winter's sky or season may, with sufficient propriety, be said to warp the surface of the ocean, by agitation of its waves alone.
That this passage refers to the turbulence of the sky, and the consequent agitation of the ocean, and not to the operation of frost, may be collected from our author's having in King John: described ice not as warped or uneven, but as uncommonly
"To throw a perfume on the violet,
"To smooth the ice," &c. MALONE.
2 As friend REMEMBER'D not.] Remember'd for remembering. So, afterwards, Act III. Sc. last:
"And now I am remember'd -"
i. e, and now that I bethink me, &c. MALONE.