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“ Expire before their fathions.”We have the following ingenious conjecture, from Mr. Tyre whytt. I have a suspicion that Shakspeare wrote—“ mere feathers of their garments :" i. e. whofe judgments are merely parts (and insignificant parts) of their dress, worn and laid aside as feathers are, from the mere love of novelty and change." The whole paffage confirms this emendation.
In the same comedy we meet with the following very crabbed and almost unintelligible paffage : King
“ What dar'it thou venture ? Hel. “ Tax of impudence
“ A ftrum pei's boldness, a divulged shame,
Traduc'd by odious ballads ; my maiden's name " Seard o herwise ; no worse of worst extended,
“ With vileft torture let my life be ended.” Dr. Johnson obferves, that this passage is apparently corsupt, and he entertained small hopes of rectifying it. The ingenious Mr. Malone hath remarked that the old copy readsnot fear'd but scar’d. The impression (says he) in my book, is very faint, but I think that is the word. In the same line it Teads, not no, but ne-probably an error for the. I would with to read and point the passage thus:
a divulged shame-
“ With vileit torture, let my life be ended.” i.e. Let my maiden reputation become the subject of ballads-let it be otherwise margled; and (what is the worft of worst--the consummation of mifery) my body extended on the rack by the moft cruel torture, let my life pay the forfeit of my presumpcion.'
Dr. Johnson observed, in a former Edition of our Author, that a clown, in his dramas, is commonly taken for a licensed jefter or domestic fool. This circumstance is confirmed by Mr. Steevens in a note on the 3d Scene, Act I. of the forementioned comedy, where che persons introduced are the Counters, Steward, and Clown.
This dialogue (fays the Editor) or that in Twelfth Night, between Olivia and the Clown, seems to have been particularly censured by Cartwright in one of the copies of vertes prefixed to the works of Beaumont and Fletcher :
“ Shakespeare to thee was dull, whose best jest lies
In the MS. register of Lord Stanhope of Harrington, Treafurer of the chamber to King James I. from 1613 to 1616, are the following entries : “ Tom Derry, his Majesty's fool, at 2 s. per diem, 1615. Paid John Mawe for the diet and lodging of Thomas Derrie, her Majesty's jesier, for thirteen weeks, jol. 18 s. 6 d. 1616.
Malvolio in Twelfth Night, says —" the Lady of the Strachy married the yeoman of the wardrobe.”
Dr. Warburton, according to custom, alters the word, in order, if possible, to extract some meaning out of it. He proposes to read Trachy, i. e. Thrace. This alteration, in the opi. nion of Dr. Johnson, added little to the credit of the text, whatever honour might accrue from it to the sagacity of the critic. He bonestly confessed his ignorance of the circumstance or story to which the expression alluded. Mr. Smith conjec, tures that the word Strachy is derived from the Italian word Straccio, and signifies clouts or tatters. Mr. Steevens sports an hypothesis, for which he makes fo ingenuous an apology, that we should be disposed to indulge him even if it were less probable than it is. He would alter, by a very easy transposition of a letter, Strachy to Starchy; i. e. the room in which linen underwent the once most complicated operation of farching. • The alteration (says he) was suggested to me by a typographical error in The World toss'd at Tennis, 1620, by Middleton and Rowley, where straches is printed for ftarches. I cannot fairly be accused of having dealt much in conjectural emendation, and therefore feel the less reluctance to hazard a guess on this desperate passage! Mr. Steevens indeed hath a right with the first critics on Shakspeare to amuse himself with the play of conjecture. His abilities entitle him to this indulgence in common with other commentators. But it is very seldom that he hath availed himself of the privilege. He adheres to the simple text as long as he finds any thing in it to support him: and when he departs from it, it is always with diffidence and reluctance.
The true reading of a moft obscure passage in Act IV. Sc. III. of Twelfth Night, is, we think, restored by Mr. Tyrwhytt, and its meaning, with much probability, conjectured by the help of Sir John Hawkins's explanation of a term which occurs in it.
Sir Toby (drunk himself) fays of Dick the surgeon (who, as the Clown informs him, had been “ drunk above an hous agone")
“ Then he's a rogue, and a pally measure pavir:
“ I hate a drunken rogue.” Pally-measure is a corruption of the Italian word passamezzo : it was a favourite air in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. The pavan, from pavo, a peacock, is a grave and majestic dance. The method of dancing it was anciently by gentlemen dressed with a cap and sword — by those of the long robe in their gowns—by princes in their mantles--and by ladies in gowns with long trains, the motion whereof in the dance resembled that of a peacock's tail.
By the asistance of the above explanation, given by Sir John Hawkins, I think (says Mr. Tyrwhytt) I now see the meaning of this passage. The second fólio reads.
after a paffy measure pavinSo that I should imagine the following regulation of the whole speech would not be far from the truth:
" Then he's a rogue :-after a passy-measure or a pavin
“ I hate a drunken rogue.” i. e. next to a paffy-measure or a pavin I hate a drunkard. It is in character that Sir Toby Belch Tould express a strong disike of serious dances, &c. such as the pasamezzo and the pavan are described to be.
Mr. Steevens hath restored the true reading of a corrupted passage in Act I. Sc. II. of the tragedy of Macbeth :
“ Till he disbursed at St. Colmes' kill ifte." This is very erroneous, though adopted by all the modern editors. The folio reads
at Saint Colmes' yncb. i.e. Colmes Inch, or as it is now called Inchcomb, a small island lying in the Firth of Edinburgh, with an abbey upon it, dedicated to St. Columb, called by Cambden Inch Colum, or the Te of Columba. Colum kill is quite a different island. This larter was the very celebrated Iona, that was anciently the residence of an abbot, and afterwards an episcopal fee. It was noted for being the burial-place of the kings of Ireland, Scotland, and Norway. It was the seat of learning to the inhabitants of the northern countries : and the illustrious school from whence ifsued some of the greatest ornaments of the church in the middle ages. This famous island is situated among the Hebrides, in the western seas, at a small distance from the isle of Mull. It was visited a few years since by Dr. Johnson ; whose refections on its ancient and present state are equally pious and rational, and every way worthy of the philosopher and the Christian.
With respect to the island situated in the Firth of Forth, near Edinburgh, called Colmes' Inch, Mr. Steevens produces the following passage from Hollinshed, to illustrate the circumstance which this tragedy refers to in the line quoted above. “The Danes that escaped and got once to their ships obtained of Macbeth for a great sum of gold, that such of their friends as were Naine might be buried in Saint Colmes' Inch. In memory whereof many old sepultures are yet in the said Inch graven with the arms of the Danes.” Inch or Infne, in the Irish and Erse languages, signifies an island *. Vid. Lhynd's Arch.
In the concluding Scene of the first Act of this inimitable drama, Macbeth is represented as saying in a soliloquy
if the assafinacion
" With his forceafe, roccess :" Dr. Johnson pleads for a transposition, and would give success the precedence of furcease, and, moreover, would substitute its for his. With this alteration he understands the passage thus
if its success would ensure its furcease-if being once done fuccessfully, without detection, it could fix a period to all vengeance and enquiry-I would then venture on the deed, &c.
Mr. Steevens appears to be satisfied with this explanation of the passage, and gives his fanction to the alteration of his into its, by informing his readers that they are convertible terms. For our part, we see no difficulty in the passage as it stands at present, and are utterly averse to all transpofitions and alterations, unless absolutely necessary to clear up fome obscurity, otherwise inscrutable or warranted by good authority, or very clear analogy. “ With his furceale”-appears to us to mean simply and literally the death of Duncan – which event Macbeth was at that moment meditating. He and his are used in the same foliloquy, without any mention of the royal name : and in the abruptness with which it begins, and the manner in which Macbeth speaks of his gueft, the poet discovers his vast knowledge of the most secret workings of the human heart, when it is full of some great but mischievous conceptions to which it wishes, and yet hesitates to give expression even in secret.
In a note on the word IVassel, made use of by Lady Macbeth in this last scene, Mr. Steevens observes, that it was anciently called was-haile, and was an annual custom, according to Selden, observed in the country on the vigil of the new year, and had its beginning, as some say, from the words which'Ronix, daughter of Hengist, used, when she drank to Vortigernloverd king, was- haile. He answered her by direction of an interpreter - Drinc-heile.'-Wallel is a note of health-wishing, and is supposed to be a corruption of wish-heil.
On this word we beg leave to remark, that in the western counties, the custom of wafel is still preferved amongst the country people, with some particular ceremonies: not indeed on the
• I-Colme-kill (called by Bede Hy, and by other writers lona) is mentioned also in this tragedy. Vid. A& II. Sc. ult. The body of Duncan is reported to be
carried to Colmes' kill, “ The sacred storehouse of his predecessors, “And guardian of their bones,"
eve of the new year, but on the eve of Twelfth-day. The waffel-bowl, as it is still called, is filled with ale or cyder, into which is thrown a toast with spice and sugar, and the first libation is made to the apple-trees. They are sprinkled with the liquor while a fong is sung by the superstitious ruftics, expresfive of their wishes and hopes of a plentiful season. In towns the boys parade the streets on the eve of Twelfth day, and fing the wafel-fong. It may be observed that they make use of the old Saxon word, was-heil, without any alteration, either of its original meaning or manner of pronunciation. It begins,
“ Was heil, was-heil all o'er the town,' &c. i. e. we will bealth to all the inhabitants.
In the Archaeologia there is a particular account of an ancient chimney-piece, on which the waffel-bowl is carved, ornamented with leaves of the apple-tree. The gentleman who communicated his remarks on this remain of antiquity, conjectures that the leaves were emblematical of the good cyder which generally filled the bowl. We rather think they referred to the custom of carrying the bowl into the orchards to sprinkle the trees with the liquor it contained, whether it were cyder or ale. Macbeth says to the Ghoft
“ If trembling I inbabit, then protest me
“ The baby of a girl." Mr. Pope alters the word to inhibit, and Dr. Warburton adopts the alteration. Dr. Johnson disapproves of this correction, and proposes to read
“ I evade it." Mr. Steevens prefers Mr. Pope's emendation, and reads the line thus :
" If trembling I inhibit thee, proteft me.” To inhibit is to forbid. It is more than once made use of by Shakspeare.
Perhaps there is, after all, no necesity for any alteration. We know the licence of our Author with respect to his use of words. Scarcely a page but affords fome inítance or other of his giving a turn to words very different from that to which they had been accustomed by writers more attentive to the rules of grammatical phraseology. May not inhabit mean the fame as barbour or give habitation to? If so, the fense is obvious at first fight, and trembling is not to be understood as a participle, but as a substantive.
Augurs, and understood relations, have “ By magot-pies, and choughs and rooks brought forth
“ The secret'lt man of blood.” By relation Dr. Johnson understands the connection of effects with causes. The old copy has the passage thus : “ Augures, and underitood relations,' &c.