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I dreamt, my lady came and found me dead; (Strange dream! that gives a dead man leave to think,)
to me in the perusal of this play; yet it may not be improper to remark, that in the first folio, and I suppose the foregoing editions are in the same state, there is no division of the Acts, and therefore some future editor may try, whether any improvement can be made, by reducing them to a length more equal, or interrupting the action at more proper intervals. JOHNSON.
8 If I may trust the flattering EYE of sleep,] Thus the earliest copy; meaning, perhaps, if I may trust to what I saw in my sleep. The folio reads:
"If I may trust the flattering truth of sleep; " which is explained, as follows, by Dr. Johnson. STEEVENS. The sense is-If I may trust the honesty of sleep, which I know however not to be so nice as not often to practise flattery.
The sense seems rather to be-If I may repose any confidence in the flattering visions of the night.
Whether the former word ought to supersede the more modern one, let the reader determine: it appears to me, however, the most easily intelligible of the two. STEEVENS.
I once thought that the flattering eye of sleep meant the visual power which a man asleep is enabled, by the aid of imagination, to exercise; but I now conceive, that the god of sleep was in the contemplation of the speaker, and the meaning appears to be this-If I may trust the favourable aspect of sleep, which too often, like the words of the flatterer, is delusive and untrue. This interpretation, and the reading of the old copy, may be supported by a passage in Richard III.:
My friend, I spy some pity in thy looks;
O, if thy eye be not a flatterer,
"Come thou on my side, and entreat for me."
The reading in the text is that of the original copy in 1597, which, in my opinion is preferable in this and various other places, to the subsequent copies. That of 1599, and the folio, read:
"If I may trust the flattering truth of sleep," which by a very forced interpretation may mean,-If I may confide in the pleasing visions of sleep, and believe them to be true.
Otway, to obtain a clearer sense than that furnished by the words which Dr. Johnson has interpreted, reads, less poetically than the original copy, which he had probably never seen, but with nearly the same meaning:
"If I may trust the flattery of sleep,
"My dreams presage some joyful news at hand:'
and Mr. Pope has followed him. MALONE.
And breath'd such life with kisses in my lips,
9 My BOSOM'S LORD-] So, in King Arthur, a Poem, by R. Chester, 1601:
"That neither Uter nor his councell knew
"How his deepe bosome's lord the dutchess thwarted." The author, in a marginal note, declares, that by bosom's lord, he means-Cupid. STEEVENS.
So also, in the Preface to Caltha Poetarum, or the Bumblebee, 1599: "whilst he [Cupid,] continues honoured in the world, we must once a yeare bring him upon the stage, either dancing, kissing, laughing, or angry, or dallying with his darlings, seating himself in their breasts," &c.
Thus too Shakspeare, in Twelfth Night:
"It gives a very echo to the seat
Again, in Othello:
"Yield up, O Love, thy crown and hearted throne." Though the passage quoted above from Othello proves decisively that Shakspeare considered the heart as the throne of love, it has been maintained, since this note was written, strange as it may seem, that by my bosom's lord, we ought to understand, not the god of love, but the heart. The words-love sits lightly on his throne, says Mr. Mason, can only import "that Romeo loved less intensely than usual." Nothing less. Love, the lord of my bosom, (says the speaker,) who has been much disquieted by the unfortunate events that have happened since my marriage, is now, in consequence of my last night's dream, gay and cheerful. The reading of the original copy-" sits cheerful in his throne," ascertains the author's meaning beyond a doubt.
When the poet described the god of love as sitting lightly on the heart, he was thinking, without doubt, of the common phrase, a light heart, which signified in his time, as it does at present, a heart undisturbed by care.
Whenever Shakspeare wishes to represent a being that he has personified, eminently happy, he almost always crowns him, or places him on a throne.
So, in King Henry IV. P. I. :
"And on your eyelids crown the god of sleep."
Again, in the play before us:
Upon his brow shame is asham'd to sit :
"For 'tis a throne where honour may be crown'd,
Again, more appositely, in King Henry V.:
"As if allegiance in their bosoms sat,
"Crowned with faith and constant loyalty." MALONE. My bosom's lord-" These three lines are very gay and
(I) Ah me! how sweet is love itself possess'd, When but love's shadows are so rich in joy? () Enter BALTHASAR.
News from Verona!-How now, Balthasar?
BAL. Then she is well, and nothing can be ill * ;
* Quarto, Then nothing can be ill, for she is well.
pleasing. But why does Shakspeare give Romeo this involuntary cheerfulness just before the extremity of unhappiness? Perhaps to show the vanity of trusting to those uncertain and casual exaltations or depressions, which many consider as certain fore-tokens of good and evil. JOHNSON.
The poet has explained this passage himself a little further on: "How oft, when men are at the point of death, "Have they been merry? which their keepers call "A lightning before death."
Again, in G. Whetstone's Castle of Delight, 1576:
"a lightning delight against his souden destruction."
■ I dreamt, my lady came and found me dead ;
And BREATH'D Such LIFE WITH KISSES IN MY LIPS,
That I reviv'd,] Shakspeare seems here to have remembered Marlowe's Hero and Leander, a poem that he has quoted in As You Like It ;
By this sad Hero
Viewing Leander's face, fell down and fainted;
"He kiss'd her, and breath'd life into her lips," &c. 2 I DREAMT, my lady———
That I reviv'd, and was an EMPEROR.] So, in Shakspeare's 87th Sonnet:
"Thus have I had thee, as a dream doth flatter,
In sleep a king." STEEVENS.
Instead of the six lines preceding, quarto 1597 has the following:
"And I am comforted with pleasing dreams.
"Methought I was this night already dead:
(Strange dreams that give a dead man leave to think,) "And that my lady Juliet came to me,
"And breath'd such life," &c. BOSWELL.
3 How fares my Juliet ?] So the first quarto. That of 1599,
and the folio, read:
"How doth my lady Juliet?" MALONE.
Her body sleeps in Capels' monument*,
ROM. Is it even so? then I defy you, stars!(1) Thou know'st my lodging: () get me ink and paper,
And hire post horses; I will hence to-night.
Tush, thou art deceiv'd;
* Quarto A, Pardon me, sir, that am the messenger of such bad tidings.
† Quarto A, Goe get me inke and paper; hyre post-horse; I will not stay in Mantua to-night.j
-in CAPELS' monument,] Thus the old copies; and thus Gascoigne, in his Flowers, p. 51:
"Thys token whych the Mountacutes did beare alwaies, so that
They covet to be knowne from Capels, where they passe, "For ancient grutch whych long ago 'tweene these two houses was." STEEVENS.
Shakspeare found Capel and Capulet used indiscriminately in the poem which was the groundwork of this tragedy. For Capels' monument the modern editors have substituted Capulet's monument. MALONE.
Not all of them.
not, on this occasion, differ from his. Reed.
The edition preceding Mr. Malone's does
5 I DEFY you, stars!] The first quarto-I defy my stars. The folio reads-deny you, stars. The present and more animated reading is picked out of both copies. STEEVENS.
The quarto of 1599, and the folio, read-I deny you, stars.
MALONE. 6 Pardon me, sir, I will not leave you thus:] This line is taken from the quarto 1597. The quarto 1609, and the folio, read : "I do beseech you, sir, have patience." STEEVENS. So also the quarto 1599. MALONE.
BAL. No, my good lord. ROM. No matter: get thee gone, And hire those horses: I'll be with thee straight 7. [Exit BALTHASAR. Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee to-night. Let's see for means:-O, mischief! thou art swift
7 I'll be with thee straight.] For the seven preceding verses quarto 1597 has these five:
"Balt. Pardon me, sir, I will not leave you thus ;
"Rom. Do as I bid thee; get me ink and paper, "And hire those horses: stay not, I say." 8 Let's see for means:-] From hence to the end of the scene, it is thus in quarto 1597 :
66 As I do remember,
"Here dwells a 'pothecary whom oft I noted
"Apo. Who calls? what would you, sir?
"Give me a dram of some such speeding geer
"Apo. Such drugs I have I must of force confess,
"The law is not thy friend, nor the law's friend,
"Apo. My poverty, but not my will, consents.