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Capell and Malone put a period after couch. This is making the verb little more than a repetition of the preceding verb lie. The original has no stop whatever after couch, and it has only a comma after cry. Theobald changed the word summer into sunset.
Warburton supports the old reading very ingeniously : The roughness of winter is represented by Shakspeare as disagreeable to fairies, and such-like delicate spirits, who, on this account, constantly follow summer. Was not this, then, the most agreeable circumstance of Ariel's new-recovered liberty, that he could now avoid winter, and follow summer quite round the globe ?' But here a new difficulty arises. Bats do not migrate, as swallows do, in search of summer. Steevens, with his own real ignorance, says that Shakspeare might, through his ignorance of natural history, have supposed the bat to be a bird of passage. He inclines, however, to the opinion, not that Ariel pursues summer on a bat’s wing, but that after summer is past he rides upon the warm down of a bat’s back. Excellent naturalist! Why, the bat is torpid after summer. If this exquisite song, then, is to be subjected to this strict analysis, it is difficult to reduce all its images to the measure of fitness and propriety. We are unwilling to introduce into the text any conjectural emendation ; for the best interpretation must seem forced when it disturbs a long-established and familiar idea. We therefore follow the original exactly, leaving to our readers to form their own interpretation. Claiming the same liberty for ourselves, we believe the words of the song to be the same as the poet wrote them, but that the punctuation (to express his idea according to our modern notions of punctuation) ought to be as fol. lows :
Where the bee sucks, there suck I;
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough.' We have here all the conditions of Ariel's existence expressed in the most condensed form. In the day the fine spirit feeds with the bee, or reposes in a cowslip's bell. In the night, when owls do cry, he couches on the bat's back. The seuson here expressed is that of the latter spring, or summer, when the bee is busy, and the field-flowers are spreading their gay colours to the sun ;-—when the owl hoots, as in the May-time of the · Midsummer-Night's Dream,' and the bat is
abroad. But there are other seasons. After summer Ariel still flies merrily. The spirit has here described his habitual enjoyments and occupations; and then, bursting forth into a rapturous anticipation of the happiness of his freedom, he sees only one long spring of future pleasures,
• Under the blossom that hangs on the bough.' When Mr. Knight observed that “ in the night, when owls do cry, Ariel couches on the bat's back,” he must have entirely. overlooked the word “ There” (“ There I couch"), which evidently refers to “cowslip's bell," just as in the first line "there" (“there I suck") refers to the preceding “ Where the bee sucks:" besides, according to Johnson's Dictionary, “ To couch” is “ to lie down on a place of repose,' " -a definition which certainly does not apply to Ariel's location on the back of a bat, while that animal is (as Mr. Knight terms it)
abroad,” i. e. ranging about at full speed. In spite of any objections that may be brought from "natural history," I believe that Shakespeare intended to describe Ariel as flying on the bat's back in pursuit of summer, like the swallow.
It is now my turn to offer what I consider as the proper punctuation of this celebrated song;
“ Where the bee sucks, there suck I;
In a cowslip's bell I lie;
TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA.
[Vol. i. COLLIER ; vol. i. KNIGHT.]
Scene 4.-C. p. 115 ; K. p. 48. “ Val. Yourself, sweet lady; for you gave the fire. Sir Thurio borrows his wit from your ladyship's looks, and spends what he borrows kindly in your company.
Val. I know it well, sir : you have an exchequer of words, and, I think, no other treasure to give your followers; for it appears by their bare liveries, that they live by your bare words.”
Mr. Knight gives these speeches according to what he calls “ the metrical arrangement in the original ;"
“ Val. Yourself, sweet lady; for you gave the fire : Sir Thurio borrows his wit from your ladyship’s looks, And spends what he borrows, kindly in your company.
Val. I know it well, sir : you have an exchequer of words,
SCENE 5.-C. p. 123 ; K. p. 55.
Launce. Why, I tell thee, I care not though he burn himself in love, if thou wilt go with me to the ale-house : if not, thou art an Hebrew, a Jew, and not worth the name of a Christian."
“ This passage has been misunderstood from defective pointing : instead of a period after love' as in the old copies, we ought to place a comma, the meaning being that Launce does not care whether Valentine burn himself in love or not, if Speed will but go to the ale-house with him. This reading renders the word so, inserted in the second folio, and subsequently adopted by all the commentators, unnecessary.” COLLIER.
Mr. Knight gives (what Malone had proposed in a note);
“ Laun. Why, I tell thee, I care not though he burn himself in love. If thou wilt, go with me to the ale-house ; if not, thou art an Hebrew,” &c.
Mr. Collier dislocates and jumbles the text; Mr. Knight leaves it imperfect. That the word, which the second folio supplies, had been omitted by mistake in the first, is evident from the context :- “ If thou wilt go with me to the alehouse, so; if not, thou art an Hebrew," &c. In the first scene of this act we have had,
And, if it please you, so; if not, why, so." And see my remarks under the following passage of First Part of Henry IV., act v. sc. 3, “ Well, if Percy be alive, I'll pierce him. If he do come in my way, so: if he do not, if I come in his willingly, let him make a carbonado of me.”
SCENE 4.-C. p. 166; K. p. 103.
Then, I am paid ;
Jul. O me unhappy!" "Pope thought it 'very odd for Valentine to give up his mistress at once, without any reason alleged;' but it may in some degree account for that sudden relinquishment, if we suppose him not to have overheard all that passed between Silvia and Proteus, and to draw a conclusion against her from finding her in the forest with him. There are few stage-directions in the folio, but the word aside has been placed by modern editors after the speech of Valentine, ending,
Love, lend me patience to forbear awhile.' It is very easy to imagine him to withdraw, in order to get out of the view of Silvia and Proteus, and to return to the scene, when he hears the exclamations of Silvia on the violence offered by Proteus. If he had overheard all that was said by them, he would have reentered before, and no such attempt could have been made by Proteus. To read withdraws instead of aside, and to mark the reentrance of Valentine, is all that in this case is required.” COLLIER.
The stage-directions added by Mr. Collier to the part of Valentine in this scene (pp. 165, 166) are quite at variance with what was manifestly the author's intention.
Valentine, perceiving strangers approach, retires to the back of the stage. Proteus, Silvia, and Julia enter; and the first words of Proteus declare his love to Silvia. Valentine, in astonishment, exclaims aside,
“ How like a dream is this I see and hear !
Love, lend me patience to forbear awhile," (i. e. not to discover myself till I have overheard more); and he accordingly keeps in the background, till Proteus proceeds to assault Silvia. It is evident that, after he has spoken the line last cited, Valentine, instead of quitting the stage so as to be out of ear-shot, listens with intense interest to the dialogue between Proteus and Silvia.
A correspondent supplied Mr. Knight with the following explanation of this passage; • The way
in which I would read these three lines is as follows : * By penitence the Eternal's wrath's appeas'd; And that my love (i. e. for Proteus) may appear plain and free, All (i. e. the wrath) that was mine in (i. e. on account of) Silvia,
I give thee (i. e. give thee up-forego).' In other words, Valentine, having pardoned Proteus for his treachery to himself, in order to convince him how sincere was his reconci. liation (justifying, however, to himself what he was about to do by the consideration than even
* By penitence the Eternal's wrath's appeas'd),' also forgives him the insult he had offered to Silvia. The use above suggested of the preposition 'in' appears to me to be highly poetical. It distinguishes between Valentine's wrath on his own account, for Proteus' treachery to himself, and that of Silvia for the indignity offered her by Proteus, which latter Valentine adopts and makes his own, and so calls his wrath in Silvia. The use of the word