Page images
PDF
EPUB

sionally in the former, but which is a marked characteristic of the latter. I, of course, do not maintain that all his emendations are right; my notes, I think, will show that I am not a blind approver of all his opinions; but I may be allowed, I hope, to say how warmly I admire his quickness of observation, his eminent critical sagacity, the extent and accuracy of his knowledge; and, above all, his candour, fairness, and perfect impartiality. I certainly cannot, nor do I desire to, claim for him the merit of that exaggerated caution, which, in fact, is only a duller kind of rashness, the caution that bewitches its victim into shutting his eyes, and opening his mouth, and swallowing anything that an old printer may send him. Walker's caution was of a different kind; it examined both sides of a doubtful question, and was on the watch to detect error in all its shifting disguises. It was this enlarged and enlightened caution that enabled him to wield with full effect the powerful weapon of conjecture, and at the same time restrained him from a rash and wanton resort to it. Every friend of literature must deeply lament that one so eminently gifted with every critical qualification was not spared to complete and publish this important work, that he was not allowed to develope his principles in their ultimate results, and finally to take his place, not merely among the elucidators, but the editors of Shakespeare.

In conclusion, I have to acknowledge the kindness of Mr. Dyce in advising me on several points on which I had occasion to consult him. I should not be doing justice to my own feelings if I did not offer my warmest acknowledgments to Mr. George Crawshay. The considerable expense incurred in publishing this work and the Versification has been entirely borne by this gentleman. In the most handsome and liberal manner he has fulfilled his promise to his dying friend, and at the same time conferred a lasting benefit on the literature of his country.

WILLIAM NANSON LETTSOM.

P.S.-At vol. iii. p. 80 of this work, I ought to have stated that Mr. Grant White (Shakespeare's Scholar, p. 274) has erroneously attributed Walker's conjecture (infinite cunning for insuite coming) to Mr. Thomas Walker, the aụthor of the Original,

In editing these volumes, I have occasionally added some references, and altered a few others, so that here and there an edition may be referred to that has been published since the 15th of October, 1846, the date of Walker's death.

W. N. L.

SHAKESPEARE.

In the subsequent quotations, the act and scene of the play are indicated respectively by Roman letters and numerals; e.g. Macbeth, i. 4; Hamlet, iii. 2. The abbreviation fol. signifies the first folio edition of the plays, published in 1623; but the extracts are made from a reprint of that edition, given to the public by Messrs. Vernor and Hood in 1808. S. P. refers to a treatise of mine entitled “Shakespeare's Versification and its Apparent Irregularities Explained, &c.”

Var. is Boswell's Variorum edition of Shakespeare, in 21 volumes, 1821, except when any other Variorum edition is specified.

I. Passages of Shakespeare in which verse has been mistaken

for prose, and vice versa. As You Like It, iii. 2 ; so arrange, 1“ Jacques. I thank you for your company; but, good faith,

I had as lief have been myself alone.
Orlando. And so had I; but yet, for fashion sake,

I thank you too for your society.
Jacques. God b'wi' you ; let's meet as little as we can.

Orlando. I do desire we may be better strangers."
For God b'wi' you, see S. V. art. xliv.
This

passage is printed as verse in the first folio.-Ed. VOL. I.

1

1

2 K. H: IV. iv.

“My lord, 'beseech [for I beseech) you, give me leave to go :cThrough Giostershire : ayd, when you come to court,

Siand my good lord, 'pray, in your good report.” A late writer has anticipated me in remarking, that the list of invitations in Romeo and Juliet, i. 2, is in verse; in 1. 7, he has properly supplied the deficient syllable, –

“My fair niece Rosaline, and Livia.” The writer in question, if I recollect right, is Mr. Courtenay. In l. 2, I suspect that for Anselme we ought to read Anselmo ; as in T. N. ii. 4, Feste the jester ought perhaps to be Festo. Much Ado, &c. i. 1,

"I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love." The expression seems poetical; I suspect that we have here a line of verse, and that we ought to read 'Shall or perhaps I'll; see S. V. art. xlvii. Ib. 3,

“Yea, but you must not make full show of this,

Till you may do 't without controlement :
You have, of late, stood out against your brother,
And he hath ta’en you newly into 's grace;
Where 'tis impossible you should take root,
But by th' fair weather that you make yourself:
[ ]’tis needful that you frame the season

For your own harvest.” In l. 1, I have expunged the before full show as injurious even to the sense. Controlment is also written controlement, K. John, i. 1, fol. Histories, p. 1, col. 1,

“ Controlement for controlement : so answer France." It is also used as a quadrisyllable. Copy of alexandrines in Hazlewood's collection of “Critical Essays,” vol. ii. p. 277,

“Oh, that I had mine olde wittes at commandement;

I knowe, what I coude say without controlement.” See S. V. art. xiv. In l. 5, the common editions have “take true root,” which perhaps is right; true

may

have been absorbed by take. The fol. omits true ; [the quarto inserts it.-Ed.] This metrical use of impossible, terrible, and the like, is (as is well known) very common in the Elizabethan poets. It occurs even in Chapman's Iliad, where it is very remarkable; xiii. Taylor, vol. ii. p. 23, 1. 17,

had not Polydamas Thus spake to Hector : Hector still, impossible ’tis

to pass (point: Hector, still impossible, &c.]

Good counsel upon you.” Penult. perhaps " Therefore 'tis needful, &c.” (As regards the metaphor—a proverbial expression, as I conjecturecompare 2 K. H. VI. v. 1,

“Scarce can I speak, my choler is so great.

But I must make fair weather yet awhile,

Till Henry be more weak, and I more strong."
Vassinger, A Very Woman, iv. ad fin.;
Cuculo is speaking of Almira's displeasure, -
“Here's a new trick of state; this shews foul weather;

But let her make it when she please, I'll gain by it [by’t].” Spenser, F. Q., B. iv. C. ii. St. xxix. where Sir Paridell and Sir Blandamour are reconciled to each other,

of all old dislikes they made faire weather.”)

« PreviousContinue »