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In Troy, there lies the scene. From isles of Greece The princes orgulous,2 their high blood chaf'd, Have to the port of Athens sent their ships, Fraught with the ministers and instruments Of cruel war: Sixty and nine, that wore Their crownets regal, from the Athenian bay Put forth toward Phrygia : and their vow is made, To ransack Troy; within whose strong immures The ravish'd Helen, Menelaus' queen, With wanton Paris sleeps; And that's the quarrel. To Tenedos they come; And the deep-drawing barks do there disgorge Their warlike fraughtage: Now on Dardan plains The fresh and yet unbruised Greeks do pitch Their brave pavilions: Priam's six-gated city, 8 Dardan, and Tymbria, Ilias, Chetas, Trojan, And Antenorides, with massy staples, And corresponsive and fulfilling bolts, %
1 I cannot regard this Prologue (which indeed is wanting in the quarto editions) as the work of Shakspeare; and perhaps the drama before us was not entirely of his construction. It appears to bave been unknown to his associates, Hemings and Condell, till after the first folio was almost printed off. On this subject, indeed, (as I learn from Mr. Malone's Emendations and Additions) there seems to have been a play anterior to the present
“Aprel 7, 1599. Lent unto Thomas Downton to lende unto Mr. Deckers, & harey cheattel, in earnest of ther boocke called Troyeles and Creassedaye, the some of iii lb.”
“ Lent unto harey cheattell, & Mr. Dickers, (Henry Chettle and master Deckar) in pte of payment of their booke called. Troyelles & Cresseda, the 16 of Aprell, 1599, xxs.”
“Lent unto Mr. Deckers and Mr. Chettel the 26 of maye, 1599, in earnest of a booke called Troylles and Creseda, the some of xxs." Steevens.
2. The princes orgulous,] Orgulous, i. e. proud, disdainful. Or. gueilleux, Fr. This word is used in the ancient romance of Rich. ard Gueur de Lyon :
“ His atyre was orgulous.” Steevens.
Priam's six-gated city, &c.] The names of the gates are here exhibited as in the old copy, for the reason assigned by Dr. Farmer; except in the instance of Antenorides, instead of which the old copy has Antenonydus. The quotation from Lydgate shows that was an error of the printer. Malone.
Sperr up the sons of Troy.5
-fulfilling bolts,] To fulfll, in this place, means to fill till there be no room for more. In this sense it is now obsolete. So, in Gower, De Confessione Amantis, Lib. V, fol. 114:
“A lustie maide, a sobre, a meke,
"Fulfilled of all curtosie.” Again:
“ Fulfilled of all unkindship.". Steevens. To be “fulfilled with grace and benediction” is still the language of our liturgy. Blackstone.
5 Sperr up the sons of Troy.] [Old copy-Stirre.) This has been a most miserably mangled passage throughout all the editions; corrupted at once into false concord and false reasoning. Priam's six-gated city stirre up the sons of Troy?--Here 's a verb plural governed of a nominative singular. Búi that is easily remeslied The next question to be asked is, In what sense a city, having six strong gates, and those well barred and bolte, can be said 10 stir up its inhabitants ? unless they may be supposed to derive some spirit from the strength of their fortifications. But this could not be the poet's thought. He must mean, I take it, that the Greeks had pitched their tents upon the plains before Troy: and that the Trojans were securely barricaded within the walls and gates of their city. This sense my correction restores. To sperre, or spar, from the old Teutonic word Speren, signifies to shut up, defend by bars, &c. Theobald. So, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, Book V, c. 10:
“ The other that was entred, labour'd fast
“ To sperre the gate" &c. Again, in the romance of The Squhr of Low Degre:
“ Sperde with manie a dyvers pynne.”. And in The Vision of P Plowman, it is said that a blind man "unsparryd his eine.” Ste ens.
Mr. Theobald informs us that the very names of the gates of Troy have been barbarously demolished by the editors; and a deal of learned dust he makes in setting them right again; much however to Mr. Heath's satisfaction. Indeed the learning is modestly withdrawn from the later editions, and we are quietly instructed to read
“Dardan, and Thymbria, Ilia Scea, Trojan,
“ And Antenorides." But had he looked into the Troy Boke of Lydgate, instead of puzzling himself with Dares Phrygius, he would have found the horrid demolition to have been neither the work of Shakspeare, nor his editors:
“ Thereto his cyte | compassed enuyrowne
Now expectation, tickling skittish spirits,
“ And in storye | lyke as it is founde,
Lond. Empr. by R. Pynson, 1513, fol. B. II, ch. 11. The Troye Boke was somewhat modernized, and reduced into regular stanzas, about the beginning of the last century, under the name of, The Life and Death of Hector-who fought a Hundred mayne Batlailes in open Field against the Grecians; wherein there were slaine on both sides Fourteene Hundred and Sixe Thousand, Fourscore and Sixe Men.-Fol. no date. This work Dr. Fuller, and several other criticks, have erroneously quoted as the original; and observe, in consequence, that “if Chaucer's coin were of greater weight for deeper learning, Lydgate's were of a more refined standard for purer language: so that one might mistake him for a modern writer." Farmer.
6 A prologue arm'd,] I come here to speak the prologue, and come in armour; not defying the audience, in confidence of ei. ther the author's or actor's abilities, but merely in a character suited to the subject, in a dress of war, before a warlike play.
Fohnson. Motteux seems to have borrowed this idea in his Prologue to Farquhar's Twin Rivals:
“ With drums and trumpets in this warring age,
the vaunt -] i.e. the avant, what went before. So, in King Lear :
“ Vaunt-couriers to oak cleaving thunderbolts." Steevens. The vaunt is the vanguard, called, in our author's, time the vaunt-guard. Percy.
- firstlings-) A scriptural phrase, signifying the first produce or offspring. So, in Genesis, iv, 4: " And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock.” Steevens.
Priam, king of Troy:
Helen, wife to Menelaus.
Trojan and Greek soldiers, and attendants.
TROILUS AND CRESSIDA.
ACT I.....SCENE I.
Troy. Before Priam's Palace.
Enter TROILUS armed, and PANDARUS
Pan. Will this geer ne'er be mended?!
my varlet,] This word anciently signified a servant or footman to a knight or warrior. So, Holinshed, speaking of the battle of Agincourt: “. - diverse were releeved by their varlets, and conveied out of the field.” Again, in an ancient epitaph in the church-yard of Saint Nicas at Arras :
“Cy gist Hakin et son varlet,
“ Avec son espé et salloche,” &c. Steevens. Concerning the word varlet, see Recherches historiques sur les cartes à jouer. Lyon, 1757, p. 61. M. C Tutet.
I Will this geer ne'er be mended?] There is somewhat proverbiad in this question, which I likewise meet with in the interlude of King Darius, 1565:
“ Wyll not yet this geere be amended,
skilful to their strength, &c.) i. e. in addition to their strength. The same phraseology occurs in Macbeth. See Vol. VII, p. 15, n. 4. Steevens.
-fonder ] i. e. more weak, or foolish. See Vol. IV, po 382, n. 8. Malono. VOL. XII.