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PoPE. There is perhaps not one of Shakespeare's plays more darkened than this by the peculiarities of its authour, and the unskilfulness of its editors, by diftortions of phrase, or negligence of transcription. JOHNSON.
Shakespeare took the fable of this play from the Promos and
A hint, like a feed, is more or less prolific, according to the
his play thus.
66 Act. I. Scena I.
- of keyes : Phallas, Promos Man.
Duke. Of government the properties to unfold, Would seem in me to affect speech and discourse; Since I am 3 put to know, that your own science, Exceeds, in that, the lists of all advice 4 My strength can give you : Then no more remains',
But " And now to show, my rule and power at lardge, " Attentivelie, his letters pattents heare :
4 Phallax, reade out my Soveraines chardge. 66 Phal.
As you commaunde, I wyll: give heedeful care.
Phallax readeth the Kinges Letters Patents, which must be fayre written in parchment, with some great
Both fwoorde and keies, unto my princes use,
• To treate of which, a whyle we wyll depart.
Exeunt." The reader will find the argument of G. Whetstone's Promos and Cassandra, at the end of this play. It is too bulky to be inserted here. See likewise the Piece itself among Six old Plays on which Shakespeare founded, &c. published by S. Leacroft, Charing-cross. STEEVENS. 3 Since I am not to know,-) Old copy,
put to know, Perhaps rightly. Johnson.
I am put to know, may mean, I am obliged to acknowledge.
had I firit been put to speak my mind." Again in Drayton's Legend of Pierce Gaveston:
“My limbs were put to travel day and night." STEEVENS. 4-lifts-] Bounds, limits. JOHNSON. So in Othello.
“ Confine yourself within a patient lift." STEVENS.
I hen no more remains, &c.] This is a paffage which has exercised the fagacity of the editors, and is now to employ mine.
But that your sufficiency, as your worth is able,
And let them work. I doubt not, but this passage, either from the impertinence of the actors, or the negligence of the copyists, has come maimed to us, In the first place, what an unmeasurable, inharmonious verse have we here; and then, how lame is the sense! What was Escalus to put to his sufficiency? Why, his frience. But his science and his sufficiency were but one and the same thing. On what then does the relative them depend? The old editions read
Then no more remains,
And let them work. Here again, the sense is manifestly lame and defective, and as the verlification is fo too, they concur to make me think, a line has accidentally been left out. Perhaps, something like this might supply our author's meaning :
Then no more remains,
And let them work. By some fuch supplement both the sense and measure would be cured. But as the conjecture is unsupported by any authorities, I have not pretended to thrust it into the text; but submit it to judgment. They, who are acquainted with books, know, that, where two words of a similar length and termination happen to lie under one another, nothing is more common than for transcribers to glance their eye at once from the first to the undermoft word, and fo leave out the intermediate part of the sentence.
And let them work. To the integrity of this reading Mr. Theobald objects, and says, What was Escalus to put to his sufficiency? why, bis science : But bis science and sufficiency were but one and the same thing. On what then does the relative them depend? He will have it, therefore, that a line has been accidentally dropp’d, which he attempts to restore by due diligency. Nodum in fcirpo quærit. And all for want of knowing, that by fufficiency is meant authority, the power delegated by the duke to Escalus. The plain meaning of the word
Our city's institutions, and the terms
As being this: Put your skill in governing (says the duke) to the power which I give you to exercise it, and let them work together.
WARBURTON. Sir Tho. Hanmer, having caught from Mr. Theobald a hint that a line was loft, endeavours to supply it thus.
Then no more remains,
A will to serve us, as your worth is able.
That the passage is more or less corrupt, I believe every rea. der will agree with the editors. I am not convinced that a line is loft, as Mr. Theobald conjectures, nor that the change of but to put, which Dr. Warburton has admitted after some other editor, will amend the fault. There was probably some original obscurity in the expression, which gave occafion to mistake in repetition or transcription. I therefore suspect that the author wrote thus,
Then no more remains,
And let then work.
The uncommon redundancy, as well as obscurity, of this verse may be considered as some evidence of its corruption. Take away the two firft words, and the sense joins well enough with what went before. Then (says the duke) no more remains to say:
Your sufficiency as your worth is able,
And let them work. i.e. Your skill in government is in ability to serve me, equal to the integrity of your heart, and let them co-operate in your future ministry.
The verfification requires that either something should be added, or fomething retrenched. The latter is the easier, as well as the safer task. I join in the belief, however, that a line is lost; and whoever is acquainted with the inaccuracy of the folio, (for of this play there is no other old edition) will find my opinion justified.
As art and practice hath enriched any
Elected Some words seem to be lost here, the sense of which, perhaps, may be chus supplied :
then no more remains,
For common justice, you are as pregnant in,] The later editions all give it, without authority,
-the terms Of justice, and Dr. Warburton makes terms fignify bounds or limits. I rather think the Duke meant to say, that Escalus was pregnant, that is, ready and knowing in all the forms of law, and, among other things, in the terms or times set apart for its adminiftration.
JOHNSON. The word pregnant is used with this fignification in Ram-alley or Merry Tricks 1611, where a lawyer is represented reading :
" In tricessimo primo Alberti Magni
• 'Tis very cleare-the place is very pregnant."
-the Proof is most pregnant."
my abilities are most pregnant
-oh, such a pregnant eye !" STEVENS.
For you must knoru, we have with special soul
Elected bim our absence to fupply; ] This nonsense must be corrected thus,
with special roll i.e. with a special commission. For it appears, from this scene, that Escalus had one commission, and Angelo another. The Duke had before delivered Escalus his commission. He now declares that designed for Angelo; and he says, afterwards, to both,
To the bopeful execution do I leave you