Page images

Dr. Bentley's misrepresentation : for the. Dr. knew well enough, if he had given you the poet's verses, (as in his trials to correct them he must himself have turn'd, and varied the pointing several ways) in the following manner,

Haud aliter, terras inter coelumque, volabat
Litus arenofum Libyae, ventofque fecabat

Materno veniens ab avo Gyllenia proles. i. e. fled to the coast of Libya ; he could not have made way

for his own correction : or if he had told you, that nothing was more common than for the best authors, to ap. ply the verb properly to one substantive, and improperly often to the other.

As in Sophocles Elect. y. 437.
'Αλλ' ή σνυαίσι», η βαθυσκαφεί κάνει
At vel ventis trade, vel profundo in pulvere

The editor here would alter the context, tho' the ancient Scholiaft exprefsly vindicates the paffage. Προς μεν το Βαθυσκαφεί κάνει αρμοδίως λέΓΕΊαι το ΚΡΥΨΟΝ· σρός δε το στοαίς και δύναlαι αρμόσαι. δεί εν συνυπακέειν έξωθεν δημα καλα αναλογίαν, ή το ρίψον, ή το δος, ή τι των τοιέτων, και εν ετέροις τύτο γίνεθαι πολλούς. ως παρΟμήρω, [Ι1. γ. 326.]

*Ηχι εκάσω Ιπποι αερσίποδες και ποικίλα τεύχε' έχειλο. Our Shakespeare, who imitated all the bold figures of antiquity, is not without like instances : as in King Lear, A&t III.

“ Since I was man, 6. Such sheets of fire, such bursts of horrid thunder,

or Such

« Sach groans of roaring wind and rain, I never " Remember to have HEARD.”

Had he told you this, I say, he could not have abus'd that phrase, littus et ventos fecabat, which he misrepresenting cites, littus fecabat ventosque. So that whether you keep the old pointing, or change it, the Dr. cannot get one jot forward towards an emendation : not tho

you allowed him, which I somewhat question, the propriety of legebat littus, apply'd to Mercury flying directly from mount Atlas to the coast of Libya. This whole passage of Virgil, Milton has finely imitated in his 5th book. *. 265. &c. where the Dr. is at his old work, hacking and hewing. Were I to give an instance of Bentley’s critical kill, I should not forget that place in the Plutus of Ariftophanes, 4. 1010. which puzzled the Grecian critics, being an old inveterate evil, just gloffed over, 'till Bentley probed it to the bottom, and recovered it's priftine beauty. No one did better than the Dr. when he met with a corrupt place; but the mischief was, he would be medling with sound places. The emendation is printed in a letter to Kufter, inserted at the end of his edition of Aristophanes : to which I rather refer the reader, than lengthen this note, too long already.

Page 3. Like the old Vice.]

cap with a

The allusion here is to the Vice, a droll character in our old plays, accoutred with a long coat, pair of afs's ears, and a dagger of lath. Shakespeare alludes to his buffoon appearance in Twelftb-Night, A& IV.

In a trice, like to the old Vice;
Who with dagger of lath, in bis rage, and his wrath
Cries, ah, ha! to the Devil.

[ocr errors]

In the second part of K. Henry IV. A& III. Falstaff compares Shallow to Vice's dagger of lath. In Hamlet, A& III. Hamlet calls his uncle, A Vice of Kings : i. e. a ridiculous representation of majesty. These paffages the editors have very rightly expounded. I will now mention some others, which seem to have escaped their notice, the allusions being not quite so obvious.

THE INIQUITY was often the Vice in our old Morali.
ties ; and is introduced in B. Johnson's play callid the
Devil's an ass : and likewise mention'd in his Epigr.

Being no vitious person, but the Vice
About the town.
Aas old Iniquity, and in the fit

Of miming, gets th' opinion of a wit.
But a paffage cited from his play will make the follow-
ing observations more plain. A& I. Pug asks the Devil
“ to lend him a Vice.

6. Satan. What Vice ? * What kind wouldAt thou have it of?

Pug. Why, any Fraud, « Or Covetoufness, or Lady Vanity, “ Or old Iniquity : I'll call him hither." Thus the passage should be ordered, Pug. Why any : Fraud, so Or Covetoufness, or Lady Vanity • Or old INIQUITY. “ Satan, I'll call him hither.

Enter Iniquity, the Vice. “ Ini. What is he calls upon me, and would seem to lacis

a Vice?

“ Ere his words be half spoken, I am with him in a trice."

And in his Staple of News, A& II.“ Mirth. How like “ you the Vice i' the play? Expe&tation. Which is he? “ Mirth. Three or four, old Covetoufness, the fordid Pee “ niboy, the Money-bawd, who is a flelh-bawd too they say, “ Tattle. But here is never a Fiend to carry him

away. “ Befides, he has never a wooden-dagger! I'd not give a “ ruch for a Vice, that bas not a wooden-dagger to snap “ at every body he meets, Mirth. That was the old

way, Gollip, when Iniquity came in like hokos pokos, “ in a juglers jerkin, &c.” He alludes to the Vice in the Alchymift, AA I. Sc. III, Subt. And, on your stall, a puppet, with a Vice." Some places of Shakespeare will from hence appear more easy: as in the ift part of Henry IV. A& II. where Hal, humourously characterizing Falstaff, calls him, That reverend Vice, that grey INIQUITY, that father RUFFIAN, that Vanity in years, in allusion to this buffoon character. In K. Richard III. Act III.

Thus like the formal Vice, Iniquity,

I moralize tvso meanings in one word. INIQUITY is the formal Vice. Some corret the passage,

Thus, like the formal wife Antiquity,

I moralize two meanings in one word. Which correction is out of all rule of criticism. În Hamlet, A& I. there is an allusion, ftill more diftant, to the Vice ; which will not be obvious at first, and therefore is to be introduced with a short explanation. This buffoon cha. racter was used to make fun with the Devil ; and he had several trite expressions, as, I'll be with you in a trice : dh, ba, boy, are you there, &c. And this was great entertainment to the audience, to see their old enemy so bela. bour'd in effigy. In K. Henry V. AX IV. a boy characterizing Piftol, says, Bardolph and Nim bad ten times more valour, than this roaring Devil i' th old play ; every one may pare bis nails with a wooden dagger. Now Hamlet, having been instructed by his father's ghoft, is resolved to break the subject of the discourse to none but Horatio ; and to all others his intention is to appear as a sort of madman: when therefore the oath of secrefy is given to the centinels, and the Ghost unseen calls out swear ; Hamlet speaks to it as the Vice does to the Devil. Ah, ha boy, sayft thou so ? Art thou there, trupenny ? Hamlet had a mind that the centinels should imagine this was a shape that the Devil had put on ; and in A& III, he is somewhat of this opinion himself,


The Spirit that I bave seen
May be the Devil.

This manner of speech therefore to the Devil was what all the audience were well acquainted with ; and it takes off in some measure from the horror of the scene. Perhaps too the poet was willing to inculcate, that good humour is the best weapon to deal with the Devil. True penny is either by way of irony, or literally from the Greek ogúnavov, veterator. Which word the Scholiaft on Aristo. phanes' Clouds *. 447. explains, spójn, ó megélel pozapéros ir τοις πράγμασιν, δν ημείς TPYΠANON καλώμεν. Several have tried to find a derivation of the Vice ; if I should not hit on the right, I should only err with others. The Vice is either a quality personalized as BIH and KAPTOE in Hesiod and Aeschylus. Sin and Death in Milton ; and indeed Vice itself is a person. B. XI, 517.

And took uis image whom they feru'd, a brutis Vice.

« PreviousContinue »