Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

“Othello" being in existence in 1602, we might wonder that it did not sooner find its

way
to the
press,

did we not know that eighteen other dramas, nearly all equally popular, by some means escaped printing, until the publication of the folio of 1623. We may thus judge of the extent of our obligations to Shakespeare's “pious fellows,” Heminge and Condell, without whose instrumentality we should probably have lost the larger, if not the better half of what was written by our great dramatist.

I am not aware that it is necessary to say more about the quarto editions of Shakespeare's plays: I only hope that it will not be thought that I have said too much. The fact is, that nobody has before treated of the subject at all systematically; and, although the literal wording of the old title-pages is contained (and for the first time) in my edition of “Shakespeare's Works," 8 vols., 8vo., 1842-4, it was impossible there to give the form and appearance of the “fore-fronts” of the old copies. This has now been accomplished, as nearly as modern typography would allow. For a future volume of “The Shakespeare Society's Papers,” I propose to send some account of the progressive and comparative value of the quartos during the last fifty or sixty years, with a statement of the depositories, public or private, where any of them are preserved. I shall append some new facts connected with the folio editions in 1623, 1632, 1664, and 1685, with the prices for which they have from time to time been sold, and the number of copies in the hands of collectors, or in our public libraries.

J. PAYNE COLLIER.

Kensington, 10th March, 1847.

Art. XI. - Notes on Old Plays by Bale, Marston, and

Shakespeare.

In the hope that a few observations on our ancient dramatists, not particularly Shakespeare, may not be unacceptable, I beg leave to forward these remarks. Should they be thought worthy of admission among the Papers of the Shakespeare Society, I shall feel much gratified; and if it should be discovered that the first two are “conveyed” from the “European Magazine, I must, in self-defence, reply that I communicated them to that work in 1812 and 1813. Having found them lie in ignoble obscurity for upwards of thirty years, I wish to give them a chance of enviable notoriety by embalming them in the miscellaneous Papers of the Shakespeare Society.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Dodsley's Old Plays, vol. i., p. 40, “God's Promises.”— “O perfyght keye of David, and hygh scepture of the kyndred of Jacob, whych openest and no man speareth, thu speakest (r. spearest) and no man openeth.”

I allow that “to spere” is frequently used, especially by the Scots, in the sense of to ask or to inquire (See Jamieson's Dict. and Chalmers' Gloss. to Sir D. Lyndsay); but in the present passage the word comes from the old verb “to sperre,” i.e., to shut, or fasten. (See Tyrwhitt's Glos. to Chaucer.) This is not only proved by the antithesis in the above extract, but from the Antiphona itself, which Bishop Bale quotes, viz.: “O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israël: qui aperis, et nemo claudit : et claudis, et nemo aperit,” (Brev. Rom. Pars Hiem., p. 203) and from the passage in the Revelations, from

“i.e., asketh, inquireth.” Quotations are adduced from Chaucer and Gawin Douglas to confirm the explanation. It is strange that Nares, under “ To spere,” should bring forward this passage alone to show that it here means “To ask,” which it certainly does not.

1

whence part of the above Antiphona is taken—“He that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth: and shutteth, and no man openeth.Rev., iii., 7.

לל

Marston and Webster's “ The Malcontent," Dodsley's 0.P., vol. iv., p. 15, Webster's Works by Dyce, vol. iv., p. 16, “ The Induction."

Sinklou. I durst lay four of mine ears the play is not so well acted as it hath been.

Henry Condell. 0! no, sir, nothing, Ad Parmenonis suem."

To this, “ Puck,” (G. Steevens) who cared not what literary forgery he committed, so he could but “beguile” another, subjoins the following note, falsifying the passage to make it suit his purpose:

e: “Summum suem Parmenonem impertit Gnatho.” -Terent. Eunuch. Mr. Dyce is too honest to let the falsification pass, but merely asks, “Did the author intend a misquotation here ?"

Nihil ad Parmenonis suem” is a proverb directed against those who, from prejudice or prepossession, pass a hasty judgment, without having any good grounds on which to found their decision. Phædrus, without mentioning the name of Parmeno, has turned the incident which gave rise to the proverb into a fable; “ Fab., 1. v., f. v.

The following extract from Plutarch, “in the very words of Creech," would have suited the annotator's purpose somewhat better than the fabricated quotation from Terence : “ For upon what other account should men be moved to admire Parmeno's sou so much as to pass it into a proverb ? Yet 'tis reported, that Parmeno being very famous for imitating the grunting of a pig, some endeavoured to rival and ontdo him. And when the hearers, being prejudiced, cried out, “Very well, indeed, but nothing comparable to Parmeno's sou,' one took a pig under his arm, and came upon the stage ; and when, tho’ they heard the very pig, they still continued, This is nothing comparable to Parmeno's sou,' he threw his pig amongst them, to

shew that they judged according to opinion and not truth."Plutarch. Sympos, lib. v., prob. i.

“ As You Like It,” act ii., Jaques's song.—“Ducdame, ducdame, ducdame.”

I do not attempt to explain this controverted passage, (Turpe est difficiles habere nugas, Et stultus labor est ineptiarum !) which I believe to be merely an unmeaning burden like “trolly lolly,” “ down-a-down,” “skerry merry," and such stuff. But I would fain suggest, whether there be not some connexion (though I cannot distinctly trace it) between these words and that which I am going to adduce. In Stanyhurst's Dedication to the Lord Baron of Dunsanie, of his Translation of the First Fovre Bookes of Virgil's Æneis, there occurs, sub finem, this passage : “ The readiest way therefore to flap these droanes from the sweete senting hiues of Poetrye, is for the learned to applie them selues wholly (if they bee delighted with that veine) to the true making of verses in suche wise as the Greekes and Latines, the fathers of knowledge, haue done ; and to leaue to these doltishe coistrels their rude rythming and balducketome ballads."

I am confident that balducketome, in an opprobrious sense, q. d., trashy, ribald, occurs in Holinshed; but I have unfortunately mislaid my quotation and reference. Having in vain skimmed over one volume, in hope of retrieving the passage, “I give it up :" to take the other five in hand would not be tanti.

L. s. April 26th, 1847.

יל

Art. XII.--Accounts of Performances and Revels at Court in

the reign of Henry VIII.

Concluding that any early details of court masques, disguisings, and revels, will fall within the objects of the Shakespeare Society, and be adapted for publication in its “ Papers," in connection with the history of the stage, I send you a few memoranda made by me, some years ago, from the original documents, then in the Chapter House, Westminster, but now, I apprehend, removed from that depository. Whether Mr. Collier ever saw them, I know not; but perhaps I may presume a negative, because I find no notice of them in his

History of English Dramatic Poetry and the Stage.” He has mentioned and made extracts from other documents of the same kind, but not from these, and possibly their existence had not been ascertained when he collected the materials for his volumes.

The first relates to the very beginning of the reign of Henry VIII., about nine months after he came to the throne, and it appears to be a fair copy made out from the rough draft of Richard Gibson, who held the office of yeoman-tailor, and was immediately concerned in the preparation of all the dresses, both for the ladies and gentlemen who performed: it ends with these words, “Thus endeth all the besenes done by me, Rychard Gybson, the furst yeere of the Kynges Reyne.”

It applies in part to the 18th January, 1509-10, when “in the Quenys chamber at Westminster were exhibited some revels, as the account expresses it, “for a gladnes to the Quenys grace, there were xij parsons (not, of course, meaning clergymen, but persons] dysgysed, that is to weete, (wit] xj in mens apparell, and oon yn womans.” The nature of the show

לל

« PreviousContinue »