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THE LOVER'S MELANCHOLY.
Gifford, p. 7. Weber, 117.
he doth not owe
To others' fancies; “We have here a very indubitable allusion to Ben Jonson. His high conceit of his abilities, and his stolen inventions from the antients,' were used as excellent weapons of retaliation by his ofponents.”
Mr. Weber is “ very indubitably,” an admirable judge of what belongs to the ancients, and a no less admirable critic on the originality of his author! It happens, unfortunately for his sagacity, on the present occasion, however, that this drama abounds in “stolen inventions" above all the rest. But let not the poet suffer for the ignorance of his editor. Omit the false pointing after fancies, and read with the old copy
Our writer, for himself, would have you know
A scholar claims, may warrant for delight.. Here, instead of insulting any one, the poet offers a judicious apology for his own borrowings; and asserts the freedom which every scholar may lawfully take with the works of his predecessors. G. 9. W. 119. And thumps a louder bounce.
Read : And thumps a thunder bounce. Why was this idle alteration made? The original word is far more characteristic; and contains, besides, an allusion to the rant of old Stannyhurst, the sport of all the writers
of that age.
G. 13. W. 122.—They alter as men's forms; but now, none know. Read:
They alter as men's forms, but how none know.
G. 15. IV. 124.
for every several strain The well-shap'd youth could touch, she sung her down. This her, the reader sees, is a young man; but this is not the poet's fault. Read, “she” (the nightingale) " sung her own,” i. e. her own strain.
G. 15. W. 124.--He could not rum division with more art.
Here Mr. Weber bursts into an extasy of delight—not at the skill of the youth, but-at the musical science of Mr. Steevens, who, it is well ascertained, did not know a crotchet from a quaver. “The very valuable notes," he says, “ to the variorum edition of Shakspeare, however they may be abused by ignorant and superficial critics, form perhaps the most valuable”-how they rise in price!_“ glossary of the vulgar tongue of Shakspeare's age, in the English language. In this place, I quote” (favete animis)“ the following note of Mr. Steevens. Division seems to have been the technical phrase for the parts of a musical composition !'” Of all this recondite knowledge, Mr. Weber
“the editors of the golden age of Queen Anne were most grossly ignorant.” O, why did this gentleman come so late!
At the conclusion of this precious note, we are carefully informed, (still from Mr. Steevens,) that “ to run a division is also a musical term."
G. 17. W. 126.
But is the miracle
G. 19. W. 128.-Without fear or wit.
On this familiar expression for boldly, desperately, without cure of consequences, Mr. Weber thus profoundly as well as eloquently dilates.
“ It is difficult to conceive the precise meaning of wit. It cannot bave the common ancient signification of knowledge, for we cannot conceive the propriety of Rhetia's purposely intending, without knowledge of the circumstance, to become his own antick." G. 19. W. 128.—Ambition, wealth, ease! I renounce the devil
That damns ye here on earth.
Ambition, wealth, ease, I renounce; the devil
G. 19. W. 128.–Cuculus, that gull, is coming this way.
A gull, as Mr. Steevens remarks, is a bird remarkable for the poverty of its feathers."
This is well thought on; especially as the gull here meant is represented, by the poet himself, as “ fantastically dressed;" and is, in fact, loaded with superfluous finery.
G.19. W. 131.—My nurse's busband was a maker of shittlecocks.
Every one is acquainted with this instrument; but the precise allusion which is concealed here I bave not been able to discover."
Our sagacious editor is always too wise for his author. Here is nothing but a simple affirmation. Again: "My nurse was a woman-surgeon.” Probably," he says, a midwife;" or, “ possibly,” (it is added, on second thought,) “ a practitioner of physic:" in conclusion, however, he delivers over the reader to flat despair, and declares that he cannot possibly “ explain it." All this while Mr. Weber does not see that he has corrupted the original both in the text and the note on it. He reads, “ A she-surgeon, which is, in fact, a mere matter of colour,” whereas the poet's
“ A she-surgeon; which is, in effect, a mere matcher of colours:" that is, as the context shows, a dealer in paints and cosmetics.
G. 22. W. 132.—Thy brains are stuck with cork and feather Cuculus, this learned courtier, &c. &c.
Read: Thy brains are stuck with cork and feather, Cuculus. This learned courtier, too, &c.
The person meant is Pelias.
G. 23. 1. 132.—Bring forth moon-calves! do!
Read: Bring forth moon-calves, fop, do.
G. 28. W.137.
to set you forth.
to set me
G. 29. W.138.—You speak ingeniously.
“ Ingenious was anciently used for ingenuous."
Never was a more idle observation: the speaker means as she says, i. e. wittily.
G.31. W. 139.—Truth and honour.
Read: Truth or honour.
G. 32. W. 140. a headpiece of woodcock without brains in.
“ It was a vulgar idea (Mr. Weber says) that the woodcock possessed no brains. So in Webster's Duchess of Malfy, “ You do give for a crest a woodcock's head, with the brains picked out.'"
How did it escape Mr. Weber that he himself could possess no brains, on this condition? It seems quite extraordinary, that he should never, by any accident, see the purport of one of the numerous quotations which he conveys, page after page, from the Variorum Shakspeare.
G.32. W. 141.—Hucksters set thee on their gingerbread.
Read: Hucksters set thee out, in gingerbread.
G.33. W. 142.-" To toss the pike and to toss the bar are the
Certainly not. The former was a military exercise; the latter was merely a trial of strength.
G. 38. W.146.-You charm me. “ So in Cynthia's Revels,
" How now! charm your tongue.' Excellent! in Ford, the expression means, you constrain
me to speak; and in Jonson, it is an injunction to be silent ! But this is Mr. Weber's usual luck.
G.38. W. 146.—Confined to the castle, where he now lies.
Read: Confined to the castle, where he yet lives. Why was this simple passage corrupted?
G. 39. W. 147.–At Athens she lived in the habit of a young man.
Till within these three months, or less, her sweet hearty father dying some year before, or more, she had notice of it, and with much joy* returned home, and as report voiced it, at Athens en. joyed ber happiness. She was long an exile. For now, noble sir, if you, &c.
Simple folly seems unequal to the production of such nonsense.
Read: At Athens she lived in the habit of a young man; till within these three months or less (ber sweetheart's father dying some year before or more) she had notice of it, and with much joy returned home; and, as report voiced it at Athens, enjoyed the happiness she was long an exile for. Now, noble sir, if, &c.
Alas, for Ford! what can the modern reader hitherto have seen of him?
G. 40. W. 147.–And learn to read me well, i.e. to counsel, to
This “ ancient sense of the verb,” as Mr. Weber phrases it, has nothing to do here: to “ read me well,” is, to undera stand, to comprehend me.
G.40. W. 148.-Who is.
Nonsense. Read: Whose?
G.42. W. 149.-What new Ouzle's this?
It is scarcely possible to find more contradictory trash,
The death of“ a sweet hearty father” may seem an odd motive for "much joy;" not fu add, that hearty people, whether sweet or not, are commonly supposed to be alive.