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A parliamente member, a juftice of peace,
"We allow by his ears, but with affes to mate. "If Lucy is lowfie, as fome volke mifcalle it, "Then fing lowfie Lucy whatever befall it." Contemptible (lays our Editor) as this performance muft now appear, at the time when it was written it might have had fufficient power to irritate a vain, weak, and vindictive magiftrate; efpecially as it was affixed to fome of his park gates, and confequently publifhed among his neighbours.-It may be remarked likewife, that the jingle on which it turns occurs in the firft fcene of the Merry Wives of Windfor.
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 fhould be forged, from which an undifcovered wag could derive no triumph over antiquarian credulity.'
Mr. Steevens thinks it not improbable that Shakspeare, in the character of Falstaff, might have aimed fome ftrokes at the corpulence and intemperance of Ben Jonfon. Mr. Oldys, in his MS. additions to Langbaine's Account of English dramatie poets, introduces the following ftory of Ben, which was found in a memorandum-book, written in the time of the civil wars by Mr. Oldifworth, who was Secretary to Philip Earl of Pembroke.
"Mr. Camden recommended him to Sir Walter Raleigh, who trufted him with the care and education of his eldest fon, Walter, a gay fpark, who could not brook Ben's rigorous treatment: but perceiving one foible in his difpofition, made ufe 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 moft abominate, and hath most exclaimed againft. One day when Ben had taken a plentiful dose, and was fallen into a found fleep, 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 fent home his tutor.”
The expreffion, delighted spirit,' in the fpeech 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 fpirit in the body is faid to be imprisoned, it was crouded together likewife, and fo by death not only fet free but expanded, which if true (fays Dr. Warburton) would make it lefs fenfible of pain." Dr. Johnfon ac
knowledges that "the most plaufible alteration is that which fubftitutes
the benighted fpirit,'
alluding to the darkness always fuppofed in the place of future punishment." But however plaufible this correction might appear, the learned Critic is not difpofed to adopt it. He rather approves of an amendment propofed by Mr. Thirlby, who would fubftitute delinquent for delighted. Mr. Steevens, in the prefent edition, adopts Dr. Warburton's reading, and remarks that, by delighted fpirit, is meant the foul once accuflomed to delight, which of courfe muft render the fufferings, afterwards defcribed, lefs tolerable. Thus our Author calls youth, blessed, in a former scene, before he proceeds to fhew its wants and its inconveniences.' If Dr. Johnfon's ingenious conjecture, that Shakspeare writ blafted and not blessed youth,' be well grounded, Mr. Steevens must look elfewhere for an illuftration: and we think he hath not far to go for it. The fenfible warm motien (mentioned in the preceding line) is as much in contraft 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 mafs; 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 fome ingenious conjectures relating to the paffage in question, that are not mentioned by any of the Editors of Shakspeare, and which we think carry more plaufibility in them than the dilated of Sir Thomas Hanmer, or even the delinquent of a greater critic. A gentleman of great ingenuity hath propofed the following alteration:
Aye, but to die and go we know not where ;
Delated is a law-term for arraigned or accufed. We think this correction a very elegant one. It gives a grandeur to the expreffion, and we fhould be very ready to adopt it, if we were not convinced that delighted was the original word, and that it admits of a very juft and natural interpretation.
Another curious and ingenious gentleman, who thinks himfelf at liberty with the reft of the readers of Shakspeare, to fpeculate on a difputed paffage, offers a modeft query in the following manner: "May not delighted bear the fame meaning as the word alighted. If fo, the fenfe is obvious, and fignifies a spirit discharged from the body."
It is curious to trace the progrefs of conjecture about the meaning of a paffage, that in itself merits no attention, and would gain none, if it were found in any other author but 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 (Act V. Sc. I.). Speaking of a parent whofe diftreffes might be fuppofed as "overwhelming" as his own, he says
"If fuch a one will smile and stroke his beard;
"And I of him will gather patience,"
Mr. Row, without any authority, altered the line to "And hallow, wag, cry hem," &c. Mr. Theobald, on confulting the old quarto, the first and fecond folios, found that the line originally ftood thusAnd 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 fubftitute wage for wag; and by a licence of fpeech that no grammar will admit of he proposes to read the line
And forrow wage, cry hem, &c.
❝i. e. (fays he) if fuch a one will combat with, ftrive against forrow, &c."
Sir Thomas Hanmer, and after him Dr. Warburton, read waive instead of wag:-by which term they mean-put afide or Shift off.
Dr. Johnson is much diffatisfied with all the conjectures and emendations of preceding critics, and therefore reads the line as if it begun interjectionally :
"Sorrow, wag 199
i. e. begone, or as one might fay, wag off! Mr. Tyrwhitt chufeth to read. And forrow gagge.". i. e. ftop the mouth of it. But Mr. Warton dislikes wage, and waive, and wag, and gag; and therefore (as he fays) with the leaft departure from the old copies, and in entire conformity to the acknowledged and obvious fenfe of the paffage, he ventures to correct it thus:
"If fuch a one will smile
"And forrowing, cry hem, &c.
Mr. Steevens is willing to let wag ftand; not indeed in the humble state of a verb; but in the more important character of a noun fubftantive. But to effect this change, he muft reduce the confequence of a neighbouring word, and forrow must be converted into a forry adjective. To be as ferious as we can on this fubject-though we think Mr. Steevens not quite ferious
himself-we shall only propofe the ingenious Editor's correetion, and leave it to our Readers to make what use they please
"If fuch a one will fmile
"And, forry wag! cry hem! &c."
The following beautiful paffage in the Merchant of Venice is, we think, judiciously explained by Mr. Malone:
"There's not the fmalleft orb which thou behold'st,
Still quiring to the young-ey'd cherubims. "Such harmony is in immortal fouls; "But whilft this muddy vefture of decay "Doth grofly clofe it in, we cannot hear it." Part of the difficulty of this paffage was occafioned by a wrong punctuation. The whole runs thus: There is not one of the heavenly orbs, but fings as it moves, ftill 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 fweet founds: but our gross, terreftrial part, which environs us, deadens the found, and prevents our hearing it.'
This faves all the confufion which Dr. Warburton has introduced, who refers fouls to orbs; and not being able to reconcile them, changes the word to founds." Doth clofe it in."-This Dr. Johnfon conjectures to have been the original reading, in oppofition to the folios, which read, "Doth grofsly close in it.'
Mr. Malone fupports his interpretation of the paffage by a fimilar expreffion in Marston's Antonio and Melido, 1602.
"Strike not fuch harmony to immortal fouls,
In a note on the word fellow, in A& IV. Sc. I. of Taming of the Shrew, we have the following anecdote;
In the old play called the Return from Parnaffus, we have a curious paffage, which fhews 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 univerfity-men the art of acting, and are reprefented (especially Kempe) as leaden Spouts-very illiterate, "Few of the univerfity, fays Kempe, pen plays well: they fmell too much of that writer, Ovid, and that writer, Metamorphofis-Why here's our fellow Shakspeare puts them all down."
On that obfcure expreffion in All's well that ends well [A&I, Sc. II.]
"whofe judgments are
"Mere fathers of their garments, whofe conftancies
We have the following ingenious conjecture, from Mr. Tyrwhytt. I have a fufpicion that Shakspeare wrote-" mere feathers of their garments:" i. e. whofe judgments are merely parts (and infignificant parts) of their dress, worn and laid afide as feathers are, from the mere love of novelty and change.' The whole paffage confirms this emendation.
In the fame comedy we meet with the following very crabbed and almost unintelligible paffage :
King. "What dar't thou venture?
"A ftrumpet's boldness, a divulged shame,
Dr. Johnson obferves, that this paffage is apparently corrupt, and he entertained fmall hopes of rectifying it. The ingenious Mr. Malone hath remarked that the old copy readsnot fear'd but fear'd' The impreffion (fays he) in my book, is very faint, but I think that is the word. In the fame line it reads, not no, but ne-probably an error for the. I would with to read and point the paffage thus:
a divulged fhame
"Traduc'd, by odious ballads, my maiden's name;-
i. 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 mifery) my body extended on the rack by the moft cruel torture, let my life pay the forfeit of my prefump
Dr. Johnson obferved, in a former Edition of our Author, that a clown, in his dramas, is commonly taken for a licensed jefter or domeftic fool. This circumftance is confirmed by Mr. Steevens in a note on the 3d Scene, Act I. of the forementioned comedy, where the perfons introduced are the Counters, Stews ard, and Clown.
This dialogue (fays the Editor) or that in Twelfth Night, between Olivia and the Clown, feems to have been particularly cenfured by Cartwright in one of the copies of verfes prefixed to the works of Beaumont and Fletcher:
Shakespeare to thee was dull, whofe belt jeft lies
• In tronk hofe, which our father's call'd the Clown."