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In the MS. register of Lord Stanhope of Harrington, Treafurer of the chamber to King James I. from 1613 to 1616, are the following entries : “ Tom Derry, his Majesty's fool, at 2 s. per diem, 1615. Paid John Mawe for the diet and lodging of Thomas Derrie, her Majesty's jefter, for thirteen weeks, jol. 18 s. 6 d. 1616.
Malvolio in Twelfth Night, says -" the Lady of the Strachy married the yeoman of the wardrobe.”
Dr. Warburton, according to custom, alters the word, in order, if possible, to extract some meaning out of it. He proposes to read Trachy, i. e. Thrace. This alteration, in the opinion of Dr. Johnson, added little to the credit of the text, whatever honour might accrue from it to the fagacity of the critic. He honestly confessed his ignorance of the circumstance or story to which the expression alluded. Mr. Smith conjectures that the word Strachy is derived from the Italian word Straccio, and fignifies clouts or tatters. Mr. Steevens sports an hypothesis, for which he makes so ingenuous an apology, that we should be disposed to indulge him even if it were less probable than it is. He would alter, by a very easy transposition of a letter, Strachy to Starchy ; i. e. the room in which linen underwent the once most complicated operation of farching.
The alteration (says he) was suggested to me by a typographical error in The World toss'd at Tennis, 1620, by Middleton and Rowley, where straches is printed for starches. I cannot fairly be accused of having dealt much in conjectural emendation, and therefore feel the less reluctance to hazard a guess on this desperate passage! Mr. Steevens indeed bath a right with the first critics on Shakspeare to amuse himself with the play of conjecture. His abilities entitle him to this indulgence in common with other commentators. But it is very seldom that he hath availed himself of the privilege. He adheres to the simple text as long as he finds any thing in it to support him: and when he departs from it, it is always with diffidence and reluctance.
The true reading of a moft obscure passage in AIV.Sc. III. of Twelfth Night, is, we think, restored by Mr. Tyrwhytt, and its meaning, with much probability, conjectured by the help of Sir John Hawkins's explanation of a term which occurs in it.
Sir Toby (drunk himfelf) fays of Dick the surgeon (who, as the Clown informs him, had been “ drunk above an hour agone")
“ Then he's a rogue, and a pally-measure pavin:
“ I hate a drunken rogue.” Paly-measure is a corruption of the Italian word passamezzo : it was a favourite air in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. The pavan, from pavo, a peacock, is a grave and majestic dance. The method of dancing it was anciently by gentlemen dressed with a cap and sword by those of the long robe in their gowns by princes in their mantles—and by ladies in gowns with long trains, the motion whereof in the dance resembled that of a peacock's tail.
By the assistance of the above explanation, given by Sir John Hawkins, • I think (says Mr. Tyrwhytt) I now see the meaning of this passage. The second folio reads
after a pasty measure pavin So that I should imagine the following regulation of the whole speech would not be far from the truth :
“ Then he's a rogue :- after a pally-measure or a pavin
“ I hate a drunken rogue." i. e. next to a paffy-measure or a pavin I hate a drunkard. It is in character that Sir Toby Belch should express a strong difike of serious dances, &c. such as the passamezzo and the pavan are described to be."
Mr. Steevens hath restored the true reading of a corrupted paffage in Act I, Sc. II. of the tragedy of Macbeth :
“ Till he disbursed at St. Colmes' kill ife." This is very erroneous, though adopted by all the modern editors. The folio reads
at Saint Colmes' yach. j.e. Colmes Inch, or as it is now called Inchcomb, a small island lying in the Firth of Edinburgh, with an abbey upon it, dedicated to St. Columb, called by Cambden Inch Colum, or the Isle of Columba. Colum kill is quite a different island. This latter was the very celebrated Iona, that was anciently the residence of an abbot, and afterwards an episcopal fee. It was noted for being the burial-place of the kings of Ireland, Scotland, and Norway. It was the seat of learning to the inhabitants of the northern countries : and the illustrious school from whence ifsued some of the greatest ornaments of the church in the middle ages. This famous island is fituated among the Hebrides, in the western seas, at a small distance from the isle of Mull. It was visited a few years since by Dr. Johnson; whose reflections on its ancient and present state are equally pious and rational, and every way worthy of the philosopher and the Christian.
With respect to the island situated in the Firth of Forth, near Edinburgh, called Colmes' Inch, Mr. Steevens produces the following passage from Hollinshed, to illustrate the circumstance which this tragedy refers to in the line quoted above." The Danes that escaped and got once to their ships obtained of Macbeth for a great sum of gold, that such of their friends as were Naine might be buried in Saint Colmes' Inch. In memory whereof many old sepultures are yet in the said Inch graven with the arms of the Danes.” Inch or Inshe, in the Irish and Erfe languages, signifies an island *. Vid. Lhynd's Arch.
In the concluding Scene of the first Act of this inimitable drama, Macbeth is represented as saying in a soliloquy
if the affallinacion
“ With his surcease, success :" Dr. Johnson pleads for a transposition, and would give success the precedence of furcease, and, moreover, would substitute its for his. With this alteration he understands the passage thus<if its success would ensure its surcease--if being once done fuccessfully, without detection, it could fix a period to all vengeance and enquiry- I would then venture on the deed, &c.
Mr. Steevens appears to be fatisfied with this explanation of the passage, and gives his sanction to the alteration of bis into its, by informing his readers that they are convertible terms. For our part, we see no difficulty in the passage as it stands at present, and are utterly averse to ali transpositions and alterations, unless absolutely neceffary to clear up fome obscurity, otherwise inscrutable or warranted by good authority, or very clear analogy: “ With his surceale”-appears to us to mean fimply and literally the death of Duncan - which event Macbeth was at that moment meditating. He and his are used in the same foli. loquy, without any mention of the royal name: and in the abruptness with which it begins, and the manner in which Macbeth speaks of his guest, the poet discovers his vast knowledge of the most secret workings of the human heart, when it is full of some great but mischievous conceptions to which it wishes, and yet hesitates to give expression even in secret.
In a note on the word Wassel, made use of by Lady Macbeth in this last scene, Mr. Steevens observes, that it was an. ciently called was- haile, and was an annual custom, according to Selden, observed in the country on the vigil of the new year, and had its beginning, as some say, from the words which Ronix, daughter of Hengift, used, when she drank to Vortigernloverd king, was-haile. He answered her by direction of an in. terpreter - Drinc-heile.'—Waffel is a note of health-wishing, and is fuppofed to be a corruption of wish-heil.
On this word we beg leave to remark, that in the western counties, the custom of wafel is still preserved amongst the coun. try people, with some particular ceremonies : not indeed on the
* 1-Colme-kill (called by Bcde Hy, and by other writers lona) is mentioned also in this tragedy. Vid. Aa II. Sc. ult. The body of Duncan is reported to be
carried to Colmes' kill, “ The sacred florehouse of his predecessors, “ And guardian of their bones."
eve of the new year, but on the eve of Twelfth-day. The waffel-bowl, as it is still called, is filled with ale or cyder, into which is thrown a toast with spice and sugar, and the first libation is made to the apple-trees. They are sprinkled with the Jiquor while a song is sung by the superstitious rustics, expreffive of their wishes and hopes of a plentiful season. In towns the boys parade the streets on the eve of Twelfth day, and fing the wafel-fong. It may be observed that they make use of the old Saxon word, was-heil, without any alteration, either of its original meaning or manner of pronunciation. It begins,
“ Was heil, was-heil all o'er the town," &c. i.e. we wish health to all the inhabitants.
In the Archaeologia there is a particular account of an ancient chimney-piece, on which the waffel-bowl is carved, ornamented with leaves of the apple-tree. The gentleman who communicated his remarks on this remain of antiquity, conjectures that the leaves were emblematical of the good cyder which generally filled the bowl. We rather think they referred to the custom of carrying the bowl into the orchards to sprinkle the trees with the liquor it contained, whether it were cyder or ale. Macbeth says to the Ghost
“ If trembling I inbabit, then protest me
“ The baby of a girl. Mr. Pope alters the word to inhibit, and Dr. Warburton adopts the alteration. Dr. Johnson disapproves of this correction, and proposes to read
“ I evade it." Mr. Steevens prefers Mr. Pope's emendation, and reads the line thus :
“ If trembling I inhibit thu, proteft me.” To inhibit is to forbid. It is more than once made use of by Shakspeare.
Perhaps there is, after all, no necessity for any alteration. We know the licence of our Author with respect to his use of words. Scarcely a page but affords some instance or other of his giving a turn to words very different from that to which they had been accustomed by writers more attentive to the rules of grammatical phraseology. May not inhabit mean the same as harbour or give habitation to? If so, the sense is obvious at first fight, and trembling is not to be understood as a participle, but as a substantive.
“ Augurs, and underflood relations, have
" The fecret'lt man of blood.” By relation Dr. Johnson understands the connection of effects with causes. The old copy has the passage thus : “ Augures, and underttood relations,” &c.
• Perhaps • Perhaps (says Mr. Steevens) we should read auguries, i. c. prognostications by means of omens. These, together with the connection of effects with causes, being understood, have been inftrumental in divulging the most secret murders. This undoubtedly is the general sense of the passage. But we doubt whether Shakspeare by relations meant the connection between caufe and effect, which our learned Editors suppose : or that by the expression he (hewed such' profound knowledge of antiquity,' as Dr. Warburton imagines be sees in it. Understood relations may mean no more than accounts of things discovered by magot pies, &c. and so well understood and interpreted as to be the means of bringing the moit secret and disguised murderer to public infamy and punilhment. To effect this sense, there inuft be a flight, but no unnatural transposition of the words, • Auguries and relations by magot-pies, &c. understood, have brought forth the secret'st man of blood.'
The complaisance of our poet to King James hath been often noticed. In this tragedy the power of curing the King's Evil is spoken of as hereditary in the house of Banquo, from whence that monarch traced his descent. On the passage which immediately refers to this power, Mr. Steevens hath the following note: The ingenious Editor of the Household Book of the Fifth E. of Northumb. very acutely observes, “ that the mira: culous gift of curing the evil was left to be claimed by the Stuarts. Our ancient Plantagenets were humbly content to cure the cramp."
At the end of the first part of Henry IV. we have fome curious observations, by Mr. Tollet, on the ancient Morris Dancers. These observations are accompanied with a plate (of which they are in a great measure explanatory) representing an antient window at Mr. Tollet's house, in which the figures, attitudes, and dresses, of the several dancers are delineated with great accuracy and elegance.
In a note on the celebrated exclamation of Richard, in the tragedy which goes by his name.
“ A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!". Dr. Farmer observes,' that Burbage, the alter Roscius of Camden, was the original Richard, as we may learn from a paffage in the poems of Bp. Corbet, who introduces his host at Bosworth describing the battle:
“But when he would have said King Richard died,
“ And call's a horse! a borse! he Burbage cried." In the prologue to Henry VIII. there is a passage which lays much stress on the truth of the ensuing representation. This circumstance hath led Mr. Tyrrwhitt to conjecture (and we think with great appearance of probability) that this play of Henry VIII. is the very play mentioned by Sir Henry Wotton