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it not,” says he, “ that the puritans, hating playhouses, approved of the uproar of those who fight for bitten apples, because it disturbed those that came to hear ?" (Illustrations of Act v.)
I cannot resist noticing one portion of the immense mass of rubbish which the commentators (see the Varior. Shakespeare) have piled up here. “ Dr. Johnson's conjecture," observes Steevens,“ may be countenanced by the following passage in ‘ Magnificence, a goodly Interlude and a mery, devised and made by Mayster Skelton, Poete Laureate, lately deceasyd.' Printed by John Rastell, fol. no date : • Some fall to foly them selfe for to spyll,
And some fall prechynge on toure hyll (read, at the toure hyll]."" Here, as he sometimes did elsewhere, Steevens quoted what he did not understand: he evidently supposed that “some fall prechynge at the toure hyll” meant that 'some set up for preachers on Tower-hill,' while it really means that ‘some finish their course by being executed on Tower-hill, where, in their last moments, they make an exhortation to the reprobate.'
In this fling at the affected meekness of the Puritans, Shakespeare, I apprehend, merely intended to say, that ‘no audience, unless it consisted of downright saints, could possibly tolerate the noisy youths in question.'
“ The Tribulation of Tower-hill" evidently means some particular set or meeting of Puritans,—(one of the characters in Jonson's Alchemist is named “ Tribulation-Wholesome, a pastor of Amsterdam"), — and “the Limbs of Limehouse, their dear brothers," another
SCENE 3.-C. p. 605 ; K. p. 247.
• I'll peck you o'er the pales else.” “Malone understands ' peck' as pick or pitch; but the word has a very intelligible meaning without alteration.” COLLIER.
Mr. Knight prints "pick.”
The following passage of an almost unreadable poem may be cited here;
“ Can such finde patrones, such course to protect ?
Scene 4.-C. p. 606.
The Troop pass once about the stage, and Garter speaks.
Princess of England, Elizabeth !" So the speech of Garter (which is borrowed almost verbatim from Hall's Chronicle) is divided in the folios, and, no doubt, when it first meets the eye, may be mistaken for verse; but that any one, after having read it, should fail to discover that it is pure prose, appears next to incredible.
SCENE 4.-C. p. 607 ; K. p. 249.
Sheba was never
Than this pure soul shall be.” Here Mr. Collier and the other modern editors, with the exception of Mr. Knight, alter the “Saba” of the old eds. to “ Sheba,"— and most improperly, for the former name is that which our early writers usually give to the guest of Solomon. Compare Marlowe;
Were she as chaste as was Penelope,
Doctor Faustus, act ii. sc. 1. and Peele;
“ Diana for her dainty life, Susanna being sad,
iii. 129, ed. Dyce.
and William Gager in a copy of Latin verses addressed to Queen Elizabeth (hitherto, I believe, unprinted);
“En Juno sceptrum tibi præbet, et ægida Pallas ;
Arcum submittit casta Diana suum ;
Quod Paris huic dederat dat tibi pulchra Venus ;
Officium præstat virgo Atalanta suum;
Felices quarum munera, diva, probas.”
SCENE 4.-C. p. 608 ; K. p. 250.
To the ground, and all the world shall mourn her.” The above punctuation makes Cranmer regret his supernatural foreknowledge of Elizabeth's being destined to pay the common debt of humanity. The passage should be pointed
“ Would I had known no more! but she must die
(She must, the saints must have her) yet a virgin ;
TROILUS AND CRESSIDA.
(Vol. vi. Collier; vol. ix. Knight.]
Scene 2.-C. p. 17.
And to the field goes he.” “Some corruption may be suspected here; for first the connection and meaning are not very intelligible, and next the word · light in the folio and quartos is spelt lyte; an unusual orthography, ' light being then generally printed as at present. Lite or lyte formerly meant little, and it is so used by Chaucer and our elder poets. The common explanation of the passage has been, that Hector was lightly armed.” COLLIER.
I see no necessity for quarrelling with the reading, light:” it is evidently used adverbially for lightly; and perhaps it may be employed here in a sense which the adverb frequently bears in the works of our earliest writers, viz. 'quickly, soon: “ Lightly or sone." Prompt. Parv. ed. 1499. If "lyte" be an error of the press, qy. is it a misprint for tyte- tight, i. e. tightly? In Antony and Cleopatra, while Cleopatra and Eros are helping Antony to put on his armour, he exclaims,
Thou fumblest, Eros; and my queen's a squire
Act iv. sc. 4.
SCENE 2.-C. p. 24; K. p. 301.
Paris passes over.
So, indeed, the entrance of Paris is marked in the old eds.,
but merely for the sake of warning the actor to be in readiness to enter : he was certainly not intended to walk over the stage before Pandarus had spoken of him.
In other plays of Shakespeare the modern editors, including Mr. Collier, retain the absurdly-premature “Enter” of the prompter's book. For instance, in Romeo and Juliet;
“ Gre. 'Tis well, thou art not fish; if thou hadst, thou hadst been
poor John. Draw thy tool ; here comes two of the house of the Montagues.
Enter ABRAM and BaLTHASAR. Sam. My naked weapon is out : quarrel, I will back thee. Gre. How ! turn thy back, and run ? Sam. Fear me not. Gre. No, marry : I fear thee! Sam. Let us take the law of our sides ; let them begin. Gre. I will frown as I pass by, and let them take it as they list.
Sam. Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them; which is a disgrace to them, if they bear it.
Act i. sc. 1, vol. vi. 375. (Abram and Balthasar should enter after the last speech of Sampson.)
In a note on a later passage of the play just cited, Mr. Collier observes, “ The entrance of Romeo is marked in the old copies eight lines before he speaks : perhaps he was intended to stand back for a time, in order not to interrupt the friar's reflections,” p. 415. The fact is, Romeo's entrance was marked "eight lines before he speaks” merely to shew that, towards the end of the Friar's soliloquy, the actor who played Romeo was to prepare himself (or be summoned) to enter, not, that he was to come on the stage before the conclusion of the Friar's speech. Again, in Macbeth;
« Enter Rosse.
See, who comes here?
Act iv. sc. 3, vol. vii. 167. (The speech of Malcom, " My countryman ; but yet I know