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We have no place in court, office in taste,
Enter SATRIUS and NATTA at a distance.
Sil. But yonder lean A pair that do.
Sab. [salutes Latiaris.] Good cousin 'Latiaris.Sil. Satrius Secundus," and Pinnarius Natta," The great Sejanus' clients: there be two, Know more than honest counsels; whose close breasts,
Were they ripp'd up to light, it would be found A poor and idle sin,' to which their trunks.
A poor and idle sin,] That is, barren, unprofitable. The word is so used by Shakspeare,
"Of antres vast, and desarts idle."
So in the first chapter of Genesis, "The earth was without form, and void," is rendered in the Saxon, "The earth was ÿdæl."
Mr. Pope changed idle for wild, at which Dr. Johnson expresses his surprise. Mr. Malone taxes the editor of the second folio (where Pope found the word) with ignorance of Shakspeare's meaning; and idle is triumphantly reinstated in the text. It does not seem to have occurred to the commentators that wild might add a feature of some import, even to a desert; whereas, sterile leaves it just as it found it, and is
• Juv. Sat. i. v. 75.
Juv. Sat. iii. v. 49, &c.
De Latiari, cons. Tacit. Ann. Lib. iv. p. 94, et Dion. Step. edit. fol. Lib. lviii. p. 711. 8 De Satrio Secundo, et (h) Pinnario Natta, leg. Tacit. Ann. Lib. iv. p. 83. Et de Sutrio cons. Senee. Consol. ad Marciam.
Had not been made fit organs. These can lie,
The empty smoke, that flies about the palace; Laugh when their patron laughs; sweat when he sweats;
Be hot and cold with him; change every mood,
(without a pun) the idlest epithet which could be applied.-Mr. Pope, too, had an ear for rhythm; and as his reading has some touch of Shakspeare, which the other has not, and is besides better poetry, I should hope that it will one day resume its proper place in the text. Idle, in the line above quoted, signifies, not "barren, unprofitable," but trifling, insignificant. It would be a sin of a very paltry nature indeed, which had not engaged their attention, and been deemed worthy of their practice. In other words, no vice has escaped them.
2 Observe him as his watch observes his clock.] Steevens, who is supported by Whalley, maintains that this line refers to the figure of a watchman, which was placed on the dial-plate of our ancient clocks, with a lantern and pole to point out the hour. I have many doubts whether such a personage was ever so employed; but none as to the fallacy of the explanation. The speaker alludes to the pocket-watch, which, in Jonson's days, was not so independent of correction as at present, but was constantly regulated by the motion of the clock, at that time the more accurate machine of the two.
3 And true, as turquoise in the dear lord's ring,
Look well or ill with him :] Alluding to the fable of the turquoise, which is said to change its colour, as the wearer is in good or bad health. To this supposed quality of the stone, our old writers have innumerable allusions: “ Turcois is a com
Vid. Sen, de Benef. Lib. iii. cap. 26.
His lordship, if he spit, or but p- fair,
Sab. Alas! these things
Deserve no note, conferr'd with other vile
Sil. Well, all is worthy of us, were it more,
passionate stone-if the wearer of it be not well it changeth colour and looketh pale and dim; but increaseth to his perfectnesse as the wearer recovereth to his health." Swan's Speculum mundi.
"Or faithful turquoises, which heaven sent
4 Senators, that else not use their voices.] The poet has here added the word Pedarii. It is the classical expression for those who never spoke in the senate, but only went over to the side for which they voted: hence they were said pedibus ire in sententiam. WHAL.
Vid. Tacit. Ann. Lib. i. p. 3.
Tacit. Ann. Lib. iii. p. 69.
• Tacit. Ann. Lib. iii.
Have so provok'd the justice of the gods:
Sab. Tyrants arts
Are to give flatterers grace; accusers, power; That those may seem to kill whom they devour.
Enter CORDUS and ARRUNTIUS.
Now, good Cremutius Cordus."
Cor. [salutes Sabinus.] Hail to your lordship! Nat. [whispers Latiaris.] Who's that salutes your cousin?
Lat. "Tis one Cordus,
A gentleman of Rome: one that has writ
Equal lords of the triumphed world,] i. e. The Roman empire. The expression is fine, and gives us an admirable idea of what every private citizen of Rome esteemed himself, in the times of the republic. WHAL.
P Lege Tacit. Ann. Lib. i. p. 24. de Romano, Hispano, et cateris, ibid. et Lib. iii. Ann. p. 61 et 62. Juv. Sut. x. v. 87. Suet. Tib. cap. 61.
a Vid. Tacit. Ann. i. p. 4, et Lib. iii. p. 62. Suet. Tib. cap. 61. Senec. de Benef. Lib. iii. cap. 26.
De Crem. Cordo, vid. Tacit. Ann. Lib. iv. p. 83, 84. Senec. Cons. ad Marciam. Dio, Lib. Ivii. p. 710. Suet. Aug. c. 35. Tib. c. 61. Cal. c. 16.
Nat. Annals! of what times?
Lat. I think of Pompey's,*
And Caius Cæsar's; and so down to these. Nat. How stands he affected to the present state?
Is he or Drusian, or Germanican,
Lat. I know him not so far.
Nat. Those times are somewhat queasy to be touch'd."
Have you or seen, or heard part of his work? Lat. Not I; he means they shall be public shortly.
Nat. O, Cordus do you call him? [Exeunt Natta and Satrius. Sab. But these our times
Are not the same, Arruntius."
Arr. Times! the men,
The men are not the same: 'tis we are base,
6 Queasy to be touch'd.] Nice, tender, delicate. Thus Shakspeare:
"And I have one thing of a queasy question."
Suet. Aug. cap. 35.
t Vid. de faction. Tacit. Ann. Lib. ii. p. 39 et Lib. iv. p. 79. "De Lu. Arran. isto vid. Tacit. Ann. Lib. i. p. 6. et Lib. iii. p. 60. et Dion. Rom. Hist. Lib. 58.