Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Among the new matter, besides additional observations by the former Annotators, we find here the notes of Sir William Blackstone, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Messrs. Henley, Henderfon, Monck Mason, those of the author of Remarks on the laft (1778) edition of Shakspeare, and most of the criticisms which were published in Mr. Malone's Supplement to Shakspeare: whence the Editor has also extracted Mr. Tyrwhitt's ingenious observations on romances of chivalry; Warburton's very curious Letter to Concanen, of which some notice was taken in our Review, vol, lxiii. p. 255; and also several of the stories from old and scarce books, which have served Shakspeare as the ground-work of many of his dramas; particularly the story of The two lovers of Pifa, from which Falstaff's adventures in the Merry Wives of Windsor seem to have been borrowed : a declamation from an old book called, The Orator, printed at London 1596, which probably furnished the original of the incident of the bond in the Merchant of Venice : a story from Wefward for Smelts,' to which Shakspeare seems to have been indebted for part of the fable of Cymbeline : and the long, but curious, poem of The tragicall bystory of Romeus and Juliet.'

The prolegomena to this edition fill nearly half of a very thick volume : but, as this part of the work does not materially differ from the edition of 1778; and was largely described in the 62d volume of our Review, page 12, &c, we shall take no further notice of it here, than just to express our wish, that, as Mr. Reed has judiciously borrowed many things from Mr. Malone's Supplement, he had also, in this part of his publication, in. serted that gentleman's ingenious account of our ancient theatres. We shall therefore proceed to extract, for the entertainment and information of our Readers, fome illustrations of difficult para sages, subjoining, as we go along, our own remarks; in hope that, by a successful interpretation of some places, which have been hitherto misunderstood, we may encourage future critics to try their strength upon our great Bard's remaining obscurities.

To Prospero's inquiry, in the first Act of the Tempeft, . Are they safe?' Ariel replies, • Not a hair perishd; on their juftain. ing garments not a blemish :' that is (says Mr. Steevens). Their garments that bore them up and supported them. So in King Lear, “ In our fuftaining corn.” Mr. Edwards, in his MSS. recommends us to read, fea-fain'd, with which Dr. Johnson supposes no reader will be satisfied.' We own ourselves noc satisfied with either the emendation, or the explanation. We do not think that sustaining has the sense of bearing up eieither here, or in Lear. May it not mean, their garments which sustained the violence of the tempest-their suffering garments? even that which was most exposed to the storm, and suffered its greatest fury, has not now, a blemish. So Pofthu

G 2

pored with eithat sustainiMay the tempored.com. So Pofthus

mus, assuring Jachimo that he would meet with a repulse in
his attempt upon Imogen, says: “I doubt not you fustain (i. Cat
fuffer) what you're worthy of:' Cymbel. A& I. Sc. 5.
In the same play, Act II. Anthonio says :

• Although this Lord of weak remembrance, this,
Who shall be of as little memory
When he is earth'd, hath here almost persuaded,
(For he's a spirit of persuasion, only
Professes to persuade) the King, his son's alive;

'Tis as impossible that he's undrown'd, • As he, that sleeps here, swims.' From the present reading of this entangled sentence,' Dr. Johnfon says, that he can draw no sense; and therefore proposes to read:

For be a spirit of persuasion, only

Profeffes to persuade. Which may mean (adds the Doctor) that he alone, who is a spirit of persuasion, professes to persuade the King; or that, He only pro.. fesses to persuade, that is, without being som persuaded himself, he makes a show of persuading the King. In the present edition the lines are judiciously put into a parenthesis, and we have the following note from Mr. Steevens: "The meaning may be-He is a mere rhetorician, one who professes the art of persuasion, and nothing else; i. e. he profefles to persuade another to believe that of which he himself is not convinced: he is content to be plausible, that has no farther aim.' The sense of the passage is this: He has almost persuaded the King, his son's alive; and no wonder he should be thus successful, for he is a very spirit of persuasion; the art of persuasion is his sole profession, his only: calling. It is not quite clear whether Mr. Steevens thus understands the words. The expression mere rhetorician,' and the latter part of his note, lead one to suppose he does not. : For the parenthesis contains no declaration, as he seems to intimate, that this Lord of weak remembrance was not himself con- . vinced of what he endeavoured to persuade the King; but only alligns a reason for the success of his endeavours. Similar ex. preflions in our Poet's ocher plays will illustrate this place. In the first Part of Henry IV. AA I. Sc: 2d. Falftaff says to Poins; • Well, may'st thou have the spirit of persuasion.' And towards the end of the 3d Act of Troilus and Crellida, Therfites says of Ajax : Why, he'll answer nobody; he profeljes not answere ing.'

, . The following note upon the words, master of fence, in the Merry Wives of Windsor, will give our Readers an idea of the high estimation in which the Duello and its laws were held in the days of Shakspeare ; and will serve to shew the justice and necesficy of that ridicule upon it, which is so frequent in our old comedies ;

minced of whard of weakdeclaration, pole he does

ingis he following Windsor, will give and its lawehe jufti

- a master of fence.) Master of defence, on this occasion, does not fimply mean a professor of the art of fencing, but a person who had taken his master's degree in it. I learn from one of the Sioanian MSS. (now in the British Museum, No. 2530, xxvi. D.), which seems to be the fragment of a register formerly belonging to some of our schools where the “ Noble Science of Defence” was taught from the year 1568 to 1583, that in this art there were three degrees, viz. a master's, a provost's, and a scholar's. For each of these a prize was played, as exercises are kept in universities for fimilar purposes. The weapons they used were the axe, the pike, rapier, and target, sapier and cloke, two swords, the two-hand sword, the bastard sword, the da: ger and staff, the sword and buckler, the rapier and dagger, &c. The places where they exercised were commonly theatres, halls, or other enclosures fufficient to contain a number of spectators, as Ely-Piace, in Holborn; the Bell Savage, Ludgate-Hill; the Curtain in Hollywell; the Gray Friars, within Newgate ; Hampton Court; the Ball in Bishopīgate-Street; the Clink, Duke's Place, Salisbury Court; Bridewell; the Artillery Garden, &c. &c. &c. Among those who distinguished themselves in this science, I find Tarlton the Comedian, who “ was allowed a master” che 23d of October 1587 [I suppose, either as grand compounder, or by mandamus], he being “ ordinary grome of her Majesties chamber," and Robert Greene, who“ plaide his maister's prize at Leadenhall with three weapons, &c." The book from which these extracts are made is a fingular curiosity, as it contains the oaths, customs, regulations, prizes, fummonses, &c. of this once fashionable society. King Hen VIII. K. Edward VI. Philip and Mary, and Queen Elizabeth, were frequent fpectators of their skill and activity. Steevens.'

Mr. Tyrwhite has well illustrated this passage in Measure for Measure, A& III. Sc. 2. Elbow, ' Bless you, good father friare' Duke. And you, good brother father.'

father :) This word should be expunged. JOHNSON, If father be retained, we may read:

Duke. And you, good brother,
Elb. Father -

Duke. What offence, &c. STEEVENS. I am neither for expunging the word father, nor for separating it from its present connexions. In return to Elbow's blundering ad. dress of good father friar, i. e. good father brother, the Duke humo. sously calls him, in his own style, good brother father. This would appear ftill clearer in French. Dieu vous benifle, mon pere frere. Et vous aufi, mon frere pere. There is no doubt that our friar is a corruption of the French frere. TYRWHITT'

In the Provost's description of the hardened, unfeeling state of Barnardine, previous to his execution, the words, insensible of mortality, and desperately mortal,' says Dr. Johnson, are obscure. He objects to Hanmer's reading, 'mortally desperate,' and

is inclined to believe that desperately mortal means desperately mischievous. Or,' adds the Doctor, desperately mortal may mean a man likely to die in a desperate state, without reflection or repentance.' 'We think the Provost means to say: "He has no G3

{ense

sense of his approaching fate, and yet that fate is so certain as to
be beyond all hope of pardon; he has no chance or expectation
of a reprieve ; he is desperately mortal.'
In the same play Angelo says of Isabella :

But that her tender shame
Will not proclaim against her maiden loss,
How might she tongue me? Yet reason dares her No:

For my authority,' &c. Warburton explains this; • dares her to reply No to me, whatever I say.' Theobald corrects the passage, and reads: • dares her note.' Hanmer alters the pointing : dares her: No. So does Upton : "dares her-No.' Which he explains thus : Were it not for her modesly, how might the proclaim my guilt? Yet (you'll say) me has reason on her fide, and that will dare her to do it. I think not ; for my authority, &c. Johnson says, he has nothing to offer worth insertion. Mr. Steevens would read : ' yet reason dares her not :' which he expounds, 'reason does not challenge or incite her to appear against me. Mr. Henley says, the expression is a provincial one, and means, reason dares her (by which we suppose he understands, defies her] to do it, as by this means

fhe would not only publish her “maiden lors," but also as the would suffer from the impofing credit of his station and power.' We think Mr. Henley rightly understands the passage, but has not sufficiently explained himself. Reason, or reflection, is, we conceive, personified by Shakspeare, and represented as daring or over-awing Isabella, and crying No, to her, whenever the finds herself prompted to tongue' Angelo. Dare is often met with, in this sense, in Sbakspeare. Beaumont and Fletcher have ured the word No in a similar way in the Chances, Act III. Sc. 4, vol. v. page 53, edit. 1778.

- ' that she, or he,
Or any of that family are tainted,
Suffer disgrace, or ruin, by my pleasures,

I wear a sword to satisfy the world no.'
Again, in ' A Wife for a Month,' AC IV. vol. v. page 331.

• I'm sure he did not, for I charg'd him no.' Upon the word characts in A& V. Sc. I. of this play, we meet with the following philological remark of the late Judge Black, stone: 1

Charači signifies an inscription. The stat. 1 Edw. VI. c. 2. di. rected the seals of office of every Bishop to have “ certain characts under the King's arms, for the knowledge of the diocese." Characters are the letters in which the inscription is writien. Charactery is the materials of which characters are composed. “ Faries use Aowers for their charallery.

Merry Wives of Windsor. BLACKSTOne.' In Much ado about Nothing, A&. II. Sc. 1. Benedick says of Beatrice, le hudgled jest upon jest, with such impossible con- '

veyancay

Gegance, upon me, that I stood like a man at a mark, with a whole army shooting at me.' The principal conjectures upon this place are thus summed up by Mr. Reed :

fuch impossible conveyance.) Dr, Warburton reads impassable : Sir Tho. Hanmer impetuous, and Dr. Johnson importable, which, says he, is used by Spenser, in a sense very congruous to this pallage for in/upportable, or not to be juftained. Also by the last transators of the Apocrypha, and therefore such a word as Shakspeare may be fup. posed to have written. Editor.'

Mr. Steevens observes, that importable is often used by Lidgate, and by Holinshed; but adds, that imposible may be licentiously put for unaccountable ; and quotes a passage, where it is so ured, from Beaumont and Fletcher, and another from Marfinger. Mr. Malone believes the meaning to be with a ra. pidity equal to that of jugglers who appear to perform imposibilities.' The old reading, imposible conveyance,' is right, and means only excedive dexterity. This hyperbolical expression is somewhat analogous to what the grammarians call double suo perlatives, such as most highesi, chiefest, most universal, &c. which warm and animated writers, who abound more in fancy than in judgment, are apt to fall into, especially if they chance to compole in an age, a nation, or at a time of life when correctness is not much sought after. And indeed similar modes of expression are not wanting in the best writers. When Demofthenes fuys,

I have performed all, even with an industry beyond my power,' what is the industry he speaks of, but an impossible induftry? Do the example quoted by Mr. Steevens from Beaumont and Plet. cher, may be added this other from the same authors:

• Design me labours most impossible,
l'll do them.'

Love's Cure, A& III. Sc. 2. vol. vii. p. 440. edit. 1778. • This language seems upcouih to an English ear, because we

rober islanders, who are contented with tame common sense, have long since discarded it; but our more sublime and less accurate neighbours on the continent, who love a little rant as well as seaton, have retained it to the present day. The President Henauli, speaking of the offer, made to the Elector Palatine, of the crown of Bohemia, says: • La fage Louise Julianne sa mere avoit prevue tous les malheurs, er avoit fait l'impossible pour le diffuader d'accepter cette couronne.' Abregé de l'Hitt. de France, l'ann. 1620. And the phrase is common to most of his countrymen.

In a note upon the expresion human mortals,' in the Midsummer Night's Dream, Act II. Sc. 2. Mr. Steevens had asserted, that the epithet human, was employed to mark the difference ber tween men and fairies: the latter, though not human, being yet subject to mortality. This assertion, that these imaginary beings Were believed to be mortal, has been controverted, especially by

G4

this

« AnteriorContinuar »