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And from the walls of strong besieged Troy
When their brave hope, bold Hector, march'd to field,
To see their youthful sons bright weapons wield;
And from the strond of Dardan, where they fought,
They join, and shoot their foam at Simois' banks.
To this well-painted piece is Lucrece come,
Staring on Priam's wounds with her old eyes,
In her the painter had anatomiz'd
Time's ruin, beauty's wreck, and grim care's reign:
9 - and THAN] For the sake of the rhyme it is necessary here to preserve the old orthography of than, and on former pages (553 and 565) we have printed "wrack" and "hild," instead of wreck and held, for the same reason. Malone tells us that Shakespeare here availed himself of "the licence of changing the terminations of words in imitation of the Italian writers;" but the truth is, that "than was formerly much the most common mode of spelling then, not merely "for the sake of the rhyme," as the Rev. Mr. Dyce observes (" Shakespeare's Poems," 1832, p. 122), but at all times, and under all circumstances. It is useless to quote evidence in support of a fact notorious to literary antiquaries. The A. S. form is thanne and thonne.
1 — where all distress is STELD.] We print this word (of the use of which no other instance has been pointed out) precisely as it stands in the original edition of 1594. Malone remarks, that in Sonnet xxiv. Shakespeare uses steel'd (so there printed, although it rhymes with "held ") nearly in the same manner with reference to painting :
"Mine eye hath play'd the painter, and hath steel'd
Thy beauty's form in table of my heart."
We might suppose that "steel'd" in this place meant engraved as with steel; and such, by rather a bold licence on the part of the poet, may possibly be the case with the passage under consideration. To "stell" seems, however, to be a provincial word, meaning to fix permanently.
Her cheeks with chaps and wrinkles were disguis'd,
Wanting the spring that those shrunk pipes had fed,
Show'd life imprison'd in a body dead.
And therefore Lucrece swears he did her wrong,
Poor instrument, quoth she, without a sound,
And with my knife scratch out the angry eyes
Show me the strumpet that began this stir,
Why should the private pleasure of some one
For one's offence why should so many fall,
Lo! here weeps Hecuba, here Priam dies,
of many mo?) A form of more, often in use of old, particularly when, as here, the rhyme required it; but we sometimes meet with it in prose, or in blank verse, as if the writer preferred it in point of sound.
3 — here Troilus swOUNDS ;] i. e. Swoons, as we now pronounce and spell it :
Here friend by friend in bloody channel lies,
Had doting Priam check’d his son's desire,
Here feelingly she weeps Troy's painted woes ;
To pencil'd pensiveness and colour'd sorrow;
She throws her eyes about the painting, round,
Onward to Troy with the blunt swains he goes,
In him the painter labour'd with his skill
That blushing red no guilty instance gave,
But, like a constant and confirmed devil,
Into so bright a day such black-fac'd storms,
we are here compelled by the rhyme to observe the old and exploded form, and the Rev. Mr. Dyce thinks it necessary to explain that “swounds” means swoons. “ Shakespeare's Poems,” 1832, p. 124.
S0 Ensconc'd his secret evil,] So hid his secret evil, as in a sconce, or fortification. See “ The Merry Wives of Windsor,” A. iii. sc. 2, and “Hamlet,” A. iii. sc. 4, Vol. v. p. 553.
The well-skill'd workman this mild image drew
Whose words like wild-fire burnt the shining glory
This picture she advisedly perused,
And chid the painter for his wondrous skill,
Such signs of truth in his plain face she spied,
It cannot be, quoth she, that so much guile— (She would have said) can lurk in such a look; But Tarquin's shape came in her mind the while, And from her tongue "can lurk" from "cannot" took; "It cannot be" she in that sense forsook,
And turn'd it thus: it cannot be, I find,
But such a face should bear a wicked mind:
For even as subtle Sinon here is painted,
With inward vice: as Priam him did cherish,
Look, look! how listening Priam wets his eyes,
His eye drops fire, no water thence proceeds;
Those round clear pearls of his, that move thy pity,
- TOO beguil'd] Modern editors read, "so beguil'd." The Rev. Mr. Dyce seems in general to have adopted Malone's text, without sufficient collation with the old editions.
Such devils steal effects from lightless hell,
So Priam's trust false Sinon's tears doth flatter,
Here, all enrag’d, such passion her assails,
At last she smilingly with this gives o'er ;
Thus ebbs and flows the current of her sorrow,
Though woe be heavy, yet it seldom sleeps;
Which all this time hath overslipp'd her thought,
It easeth some, though none it ever cured,
But now the mindful messenger, come back,
These water-galls in her dim element
Which when her sad-beholding husband saw,