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Varying in subjects, as the eye doth roll
To every varied object in his glance."
"All the old copies read-Full of straying shapes.' Coleridge (Lit. Rem. ii. 110) recommends the substitution of stray for straying;' Malone and others have strange; but it is easy to read straying,' if necessary, in the time of one syllable." COLLIER.
Mr. Knight adopts Coleridge's "stray."
Now, it is very certain, though neither Mr. Collier nor Mr. Knight seem to be aware of the fact, that our early printers frequently blundered, as they have done here, in the word "strange." The old eds. of Beaumont and Fletcher's Honest Man's Fortune (act iii. sc. 3) have, "Well, these are standing creatures," &c., where (even if the old мs. copy of that play in my possession did not correct the error) there could be no doubt from the context that "standing" was a misprint for "strange."
SCENE 2.-C. p. 379.
"Then, at the expiration of the year,
Come challenge me, challenge me by these deserts,
I will be thine; and, till that instance, shut
My woful self up in a mourning house," &c.
"Instance' is elsewhere used by Shakespeare for solicitation, and that is the sense here: the folio substitutes instant. The Princess refers to the claim the king is to make of her hand at the end of the year." COLLIER.
The "instance" of the 4to is nothing more than a misprint for "instante." No editor, except Mr. Collier, has ever supposed for a moment that "instance" could be right; nor will future editor suppose so.
[Vol. ii. COLLIER; vol. ii. KNIGHT.]
SCENE 1.-C. p. 391.
"Four days will quickly steep themselves in nights;
Now bent in heaven, shall behold the night
Of our solemnities."
"The old copies, 4to and folio, are uniform in this reading: Rowe changed 'now' to new, but surely without necessity. The meaning of Hippolyta is, that 'then the moon, which is now bent in heaven like a silver bow, shall behold the night of our solemnities.' Astronomically the alteration does not seem called for; because, elsewhere in this act, we find that the nights were moonlight at the time when Hippolyta is speaking. In this restoration I am glad to fortify myself by the opinion of Mr. Amyot." COLLIER.
"Now" for "new" is one of the commonest misprints; and that it has taken place here I have not the smallest doubt. Hazlitt well observes, that our great dramatist "has a magic power over words: they come winged at his bidding; and seem to know their places" (Lectures on Eng. Poets, p. 103, ed. 1841). If Shakespeare had written "Now," intending the passage to have the meaning which Mr. Collier gives it, I feel convinced that he would have adopted a different collocation of the words.
Which reading may be right "astronomically," I do not presume to determine: I leave the discussion of that point to Mr. Collier and Sir John Herschel.
SCENE 1.-C. p. 398; K. p. 18.
O then, what graces in my love do dwell,
'Fisher's 4to has 'unto a hell,' instead of into hell.'
The context, "a heaven," is quite enough to determine
that the reading of Fisher's 4to, "unto a hell" (which Mr. Knight gives), is the right one, excepting that "unto" should be "into." Compare a well-known passage of Milton;
The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven."
Par. Lost, b. i. 254.
SCENE 1.-C. p. 403.
"Enter a Fairy and Puck from opposite sides."
"The old stage-direction partakes of the simplicity of our early theatres. The scene is obviously laid in a wood, but the representatives of the Fairy and Puck are said to enter at different doors,' the wood being, probably, supposed." COLLIER.
Again, on the stage-direction in The Third Part of K. Henry VI., act ii. sc. 4, vol. v. 266,
"Excursions. Enter RICHARD and CLIFFORD,"—
Mr. Collier remarks,
"Although the scene was supposed to represent a field of battle, the old stage-direction in The True Tragedy' is, 'Alarums, and then enter Richard at one door, and Clifford at another.'"
These are indeed strange notes. The doors refer to the actual stage-locality, not to the scene supposed to be represented.
"Or Player-like, come forth to acte their parts;
Speake bigge and strut, and stride Colossus like,
Belchier's Hans Beer-pot, His Invisible
In the First Part of Mrs. Behn's Rover, or the Banished Cavaliers, which was acted when the theatre was fully supplied with scenery, we find,
"Act ii. Scene 1. THE LONG STREET;"
and presently after, during that scene,
"Enter at one Door Don Pedro, Stephano, Don Antonio and Diego at the other Door with People following him in Masquerade,' &c.
So, too, in many other comparatively modern plays.
More than one editor of early dramas has mistaken the meaning of door in the stage-directions. According to the old copies of Beaumont and Fletcher's Wit without Money, act iii. sc. 4, Luce enters, and "lays a suit and letter at the door [i. e. at the stage-door, at the side of the stage]; according to Weber's ed., she "lays a suit and letter at a house door"!!
SCENE 1.-C. p. 407.
"And make him with fair Æglé break his faith.”
"All the old copies read Eagles for Eglé." COLLIER.
Mr. Collier ought to have added the reason why the old copies read so; viz., because in Shakespeare's time it was not uncommon to use the genitive of proper names for the nominative. At an earlier period, this practice prevailed almost universally. Even in a modern book, and the work of a scholar, we find," a natural grotto, more beautiful than Ælian's description of Atalanta's, or that in Homer, where Calypsos lived." Amory's Life of John Buncle, vol. i. 214, ed. 1756.
SCENE 1.-C. p. 408; K. p. 32.
Fall in the fresh lap of the crimson rose;
An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
Is, as in mockery, set.”
On this passage,-where of course "Hyem's" ought to be printed "Hyems',"- Mr. Collier has no note; neither, to my surprise, has Mr. Knight.
It was the opinion of Stephen Weston that Shakespeare must have derived "this peculiar image of Hyems' chin" from a translation of
"tum flumina mento
"Præcipitant senis, et glacie riget horrida barba."
Malone, on the other hand, supposed that "this singular
image" was suggested to the poet by the following lines of Golding's Ovid;
"And lastly, quaking for the colde, stood Winter all forlorne,
With rugged head as white as doue, and garments all to torne, Forladen with the isycles, that dangling [dangled] vp and downe Vpon his gray and hoarie beard and snowie frozen crowne."
Metam. b. ii. p. 15, ed. 1567.
Now, in good truth, there is not the slightest resemblance between these two quotations and the absurdity which they are adduced to illustrate and defend. When Virgil describes Atlas with rivers streaming from his chin, and when Ovid paints Winter with icicles dangling on his beard and crown, we have such pictures presented to us as the imagination not unwillingly receives; but Hyems with a chaplet of summer buds on his CHIN is a grotesque which must surely startle even the dullest reader.
"What child," says Gifford, "does not see that the line in Midsummer-Night's Dream should be,
Note on Shirley's Works, iii. 515.
This correction, requiring only the change of a single letter, had been long ago proposed by Tyrwhitt.
SCENE 2.-C. p. 427.
"Their sense thus weak, lost with their fears thus strong,
Made senseless, things begin to do them wrong,
For briers and thorns at their apparel snatch," &c.
Why has Mr. Collier put a comma after "senseless?" which is evidently an epithet belonging to "things.”
SCENE 2.-C. p. 431.
"O, let me kiss
This princess of pure white, this seal of bliss!"
"It may be doubted from the context whether impress were not Shakespeare's word." COLLIER.