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* A parliamente member, a justice of peace,
“ He thinks himself greate
" Yet an affe in his state ;
" Then sing lowrie Locy whatever befall ic.” Contemptible (says our Editor) as this performance must now appear, at the time when it was written it might have had sufficient power to irritate a vain, weak, and vindiêtive imagistrate ; especially as it was affixed to some of his park gates, and consequently published among his neighbours.-It may be remarked likewise, that the jingle on which it turns oca curs in the first scene of the Merry Wives of Windsor.
'I may add, that the veracity of the late Mr. Oldys hath never yet been impeached; and it is not very probable that a ballad should be forged, from which an undiscovered wag could derive no triumph over antiquarian credulity.'
Mr. Steevens thinks it not improbable that Shakspeare, in the character of Falstaff, might have aimed somé strokes at the corpulence and intemperance of Ben Jonson. Mr. Oldys, in his MS. additions to Langbaine's Account of English dramatie poets, introduces the following story of Ben, which was found in a memorandum-book, written in the time of the civil wars by Mr. Oldisworth, who was Secretary to Philip Earl of Pembroke.
“ Mr. Camden recommended him to Sir Walter Raleigh, who trusted him with the care and education of his eldest son, Walter, a gay spark, who could not brook Ben's rigorous treatment: but perceiving one foible in his disposition, made use of that to throw off the yoke of his government. This was an unlucky habit that Ben had contracted, through his love of jovial company, of being overtaken with liquor, which Sir Walter of all vices did most abominate, and hath most exclaimed against. One day when Ben had taken a plentiful dose, and was fallen into a sound sleep, young Raleigh got a great basket and a couple of men, who laid Ben in it, and then with a pole carried him to Sir Walter, telling him that their young master had sent home his tutor."
The expression, delighted (pirit,' in the speech of Claudio, in Measure for Measure, hath been a subject of much conjecture amongit the critics. Sir Thomas Hanmer altered the word to dilated, “ as if because the spirit in the body is said to be imprisoned, it was crouded together likewise, and so by death not only set free but expanded, which if true (fays Dr. Warburton) would make it less sensible of pain.” Dr. Johnson ac
knowledges that “ the most plausible alteration is that which Substitutes
the benighted fpirit,' alluding to the darkness always supposed in the place of future punishment.” But however plausible this correction inight appear, the learned Critic is not disposed to adopt it. He rather approves of an amendment proposed by Mr. Thirlby, who would substitute delinquent for delighted. Mr. Steevens, in the present edition, adopts Dr. Warburton's reading, and remarks that, 'by delighted spirit, is meant the soul once accustomed to delight, which of course must render the sufferings, afterwards described, lefs tolerable. Thus our Author calls youth, blessed, in a former scene, before he proceeds to shew its wants and its inconveniences.' If Dr. Johnson's ingenious conjecture, that Shakspeare writ blasted and not blessed youth,' be well grounded, Mr. Steevens must look elsewhere for an illustration : and we think he hath not far to go for it. The sensible warm motion (mentioned in the preceding line) is as much in contrast with the kneaded clod, as the delighted spirit with fiery floods. In this connection the meaning is perfectly obvious. The body, now warm with life, and active in its motions, will be reduced to a cold unanimated mass; and the spirit now delighted or pleased with its fituation and enjoyments in the body, will exchange it for the regions of unknown and unutterable horror.
We have heard of some ingenious conjectures relating to the passage in question, that are not mentioned by any of the Editors of Shakspeare, and which we think carry more plausibility in them than the dilated of Sir Thomas Hanmer, or even the delinquent of a greater critic. A gentleman of great ingenuity hath proposed the following alteration :
• Aye, but to die and go we know not where ;
To bathe in fiery foods,' &c. Delated is a law-term for arraigned or accused. We think this correction a very elegant one. It gives a grandeur to the expression, and we should be very ready to adopt it, if we were not convinced that delighted was the original word, and that it admits of a very just and natural interpretation.
Another curious and ingenious gentleman, who thinks himself at liberty with the rest of the readers of Shakspeare, to spe. culate on a disputed paffage, offers a modeft query in the following manner : “ May not delighted bear the same meaning as the word alighted. If so, the sense is obvious, and signifies a spirit discharged from the body.”.
It is curious to trace the progress of conjecture about the meaning of a passage, that in itself merits no attention, and would gain none, if it were found in any other author bus Shakspeare. The critics have been much divided about the fignification of an aukward, ill-founding line in the speech of Leonato, in Much Ado about Nothing (Ad V. Sc. I.). Speaking of a parent whose diftreffes might be supposed as “ overwhelming" as his own, he says
“ If such a one will smile and stroke his beard ;
bring him yet to me
“ And hallow, wag, cry hem,” &c. Mr. Theobald, on consulting the old quarto, the first and second folios, found that the line originally stood thus
And forrow, wagge, &c. Hence he hit on an emendation ; without any great breach on the letter indeed; but we think to the total annihilation of the fenfe. He would substitute wage for wag; and by a licence of speech that no grammar will admit of he proposes to read the line
And forrow wage, cry hem, &c. “ i. e. (says he) if such a one will combat with, frive agains forrow, &c.”
Sir Thomas Hanmer, and after him Dr. Warburton, read waive instead of wag :-by which term they mean--put aside or shift off
Dr. Johnson is much dissatisfied with all the conjectures and emendations of preceding critics, and therefore reads the line as if it begun interjectionally :
" Sorrow, wag !" i.e. begone, or as one might say, wag off! Mr. Tyrwhite chuseth to read
. And sorrow gagge.' i.e. stop the mouth of it. But Mr. Warton dilikes wage, and waive, and wag, and gag; and therefore (as he says) with the least departure from the old copies, and in entire conformity. to the acknowledged and obvious sense of the passage, he ventures to correct it thus :
“ If such a one will smile
“And forrowing, cry hem, &c. Mr. Steevens is willing to let wag stand; not indeed in the humble state of a verb; but in the more important character of a noun substantive. But to effect this change, he must reduce the consequence of a neighbouring word, and forrow must be converted into a forry adjective.
sorry adjective. To be as serious as we can on this subject--though we think Mr. Steevens not quite serious
himself--we shall only propose the ingenious Editor's correetion, and leave it to our Readers to make what use they pleale of it:
“ If such a one will smile.
And, sorry wag ! cry hem! &c.” The following beautiful passage in the Merchant of Venice is, we think, judiciously explained by Mr. Malone :
of There's not the smallest orb which chou behold'it,
“ Doth grolly close it in, we cannot hear it." • Part of the difficulty of this passage was occasioned by a wrong punctuation. The whole runs thus : There is not one of the heavenly orbs, but sings as it moves, still quiring to the cherubims. Similar to the barmony they make is that of immortal fouls. Or in other words--- Each of us have as perfect harmony in our fouls as the barmony of the spheres, inasmuch as we have the qua, lity of being moved by sweet sounds : but our gross, terrestrial part, which environs us, deadens the found, and prevents our hearing it.'
This faves all the confusion which Dr. Warburton has intro. duced, who refers fouls to orbs ; and not being able to reconcile them, changes the word to founds.“ Doth close it in.”—This Dr. Johnson conjectures to have been the original reading, in oppofịtion to the folios, which read, “ Doth grossly clofe in it.”
Mr. Malone supports his interpretation of the passage by a fimilar expression in Marston's Antonio and Melido, 1602.
" As your accordance sweet my brealt withal. In a note on the word fellow, in Act IV. Sc. I. of Taming of the Shrew, we have the following anecdote :
. In the old play called the Return from Parnasus, we have a curious passage, which shews the opinion of contemporaries concerning the learning of Shakspeare. The use of the word fellow brings it to my remembrance. Burbage and Kempe are introduced to teach the university-men the art of acting, and are reprefented (especially Kempe) as leaden spouts-very illiterate, « Few of the university, says Kempe, pen plays well : they smell too much of that writer, Ovid, and that writer, Metamorphosis :- Why here's our fellow Shakspeare puts them all down."
On that obscure expression in All's well that ends well [AA I,
“ whose judgments are
“ Expire before their fathions.”. We have the following ingenious conjecture, from Mr. Tyrwhytt. I have a suspicion that Shak[peare wrote—“ mere feathers of their garments :" i. e. whose judgments are merely parts (and insignificant parts) of their dress, worn and laid alide as feathers are, from the mere love of novelty and change.' The whole passage confirms this emendation.
In the same comedy we meet with the following very crabbed and almost unintelligible pasluge :
King. “ What dar'it thou venture ?
“ A itrum pei's boldness, a divulged shame,
“ Wich vileft torture let my life be ended.” Dr. Johnson obferves, that this paffage is apparently corrups, and he entertained (mall hopes of rectifying it. The ingenious Mr. Malone hath remarked that the old copy readsnot fear'd but fcar'd'. The impression (fays he) in my book, is very faint, but I think that is the word. In the same line it reads, not no, but ne-probably an error for the. I would with to read and point the passage thus :
a divulged lame-
“ With vileit torture, let my life be ended." j.e. Let my maiden reputation become the subject of ballads-let it be otherwise mangled; and (what is the worst of worst-the confummation of misery) my body extended on the rack by the inoft cruel torture, let my life pay the forfeit of my presumption.'
Dr. Jobnfon observed, in a former Edition of our Author, that a clown, in his dramas, is commonly taken for a licensed jester or domestic fool. This circumstance is confirmed by Mr. Steevens in a note on the 3d Scene, Act I. of the forementioned comedy, where the persons introduced are the Countess, Steward, and Clown.
This dialogue (fays the Editor) or that in Twelfth Night, between Olivia and the Clown, seems to have been particularly çensured by Cartwright in one of the copies of verses prefixed o the works of Beaumont and Fletcher :
“ Shakespeare co thee was dull, whose belt jest lies