Page images

ftature reach'd the sky. Our poet has better authorities to follow than Homer's description of Discord, Il. IV, 440. and Virgil's of Fame, IV, 177. For so the destroying angel is described in the Wisdom of Solomon. xviii, 16. It touched the heaven, but it stood upon the earth.

In B. V, 254

The gate self open'd wide
Or golden bixges turning.
So again, B. VII, 205. This has its sanction more from
Pl. xxiv, 7. than from Hom. II. é. 749. Autój6]xo de
φύλαι μύκον έραν8. .
In B. XII, 370.

He fall afcend
The throne hereditary, and bound his reign
With earth's wide bounds, his glory with the heav'ns !

Virgil says Aen. I, 291. Imperium oceano famam qui terminat aftris. But the prophets ought rather here to be cited. Psal. ii, 8. Ifai. ix, 7. Zech, ix, 9. And this account I have here given of Milton will serve to determine the meaning of some seeming doubtful palages. For example. B. III, . 383 “ Thee next they sang of all creation forst,

Begotten Son." First of all creation, i. e. before all worlds, begotten not made, according to the Greek idiom : as in John I, 15. ngūros pas is forft of me, i.e. before me. If we follow this pointing the meaning must be as here explained. But I would alter the pointing, and read,

“ Thee next they sung of all creation firfiBegotten son."

In allufion to St. Paul's words. Coloff. i, 15. Iqwlótoros waons xlicews —And let this hint at present fuffice.

Page 243. “ SHAKESPEARE wrote, “ Young “ Adam Cupid, &c. The printer, or tran

scriber, gave us this ABRAM, mistaking the d for br : and thus made a passage direct non

sense, which was understood in SHAKESPEARE's time by all bis audience.]

A letter blotted, or a stroke of the pen, might easily occafion the corruption. The reader will not be dirpleased, perhaps, to see some passages' cleared op, which from this cause have been corrupted. Let us begin with our old poet Chaucer, whose transcribers have blundered in the Legende of Hypsipyle and Medæa.

Why lykid me thy yelowe here to se « More than the boundis of


honefte ? Why lykid me thy youth and thy fairneffe, “ And of thy tongue the’ infpnite graciousneffe ?" These verses are translated from Ovid ; “ Cur mihi plus aequo flavi placuere capilli ?

« Et decor, et linguae gratia Fict A tuae ? Can it be doubted then but that Chaucer wrote pfained or ifained, i. e. feigned, dissembled ; th' ifained gracis ousness, GRATIA FICTA? And that the infpnite belongs to some ignorant, or wrong. gueffing transcriber-?--There is another blunder which has exercised the critics ; and is thus printed in the late edition. p. 4. in the Pralogues of the Canterbury Tales.

6. A coke thei hadde with them for the nones
To boyle the chikens and the marie-bones,
“ And pouder Marchant, tarte and galingale.”

I would

I would read,

“ And purveigh anchet, &c." i. e. They had a cook with them whose business 'twas to boil, &c, and to provide Manchet, &c. In Spencer they have given us the m for A in the following,

“ Full fiercely laid the Amazon about,
“ And dealt her blows, &c.
" Which Britomart withstood with courage stout,
“ And them repaid again with double more."

B. 5. c. 7. ft. 31. Read, ftore. See c. 8. ft. 34.

In the Two Noble Kinfinen of Beaumont and Fletcher we have this blunder,

Daught. By my troth, I think Fame but stammers them,

o they

[ocr errors]

• Stand A GRIEF above the reach of report."
Which should thus be corrected,
“ They stand A GRISE above the reach of report."
This word is used by Shakespeare in Othello, A& I.
" Which as A GRISE or step may help these lovers,
“ Into your favours.”
And by Phaer in his version of Virgil, Æn. J, 452.

Aerea cui gradibus furgebant limina.The brazen grees afore the dores did mount. Hence we are led to its etymology, from Gradus. Again, In the Night of the Burning Pestle, Act II. 6. He hath three squires, that welcome all his guests ; “ The first, High (r. Hight,] Chamberlain, who will see Our beds prepar'd, and bring us snowy sheets, " Where never footman stretch'd his butter'd hams. “ The second hight Tapstro."


The alteration of hign into hight, the reader will admit at first fight, I make no doubt of. In Ben Johnson's Volpone, A& V. Sc. VIII.

Volp. Methinks, " Yet you, that are so traded in the world, “ A witty Merchant, the fine bird, Corvino, " That have such MORTAL emblems on your name, “ Should not have sung your shame ; and dropt your cheese “ To let the Foxe laugh at your emptiness." The true reading is MORAL emblemes.- -both the Fable, and the Moral are too well known, to want here any explanation.

Again, In Catiline, Act III. " When what the Gaul or Moor could not effect, “ Nor emulous Carthage, with their length of spight, 6 Shall bee the work of one, and THAT MY NIGHT." Catiline says he'll effect that, which Rome's most formidable enemies never could ; viz. destroy it: this shall be the work of one ; and THAT'S MY RIGHT : that I claim as my right and due : o Shall bee the work of one ; and that's MY RIGHT." This seems to be the true reading. But here is another miftake, which must be laid to the author's charge, who plainly had his eye on Horace, Epod. 16.

Quem neque finitimi valuerunt perdere MARSI

Aemula nec virtus Capua. Nec fera Caeruleâ domuit Germania pube,

Parentibusque abominatus Hannibal ; Impia perdemus devoti fanguinis aetas..

[blocks in formation]

Here is no mention of the Moors, who were by no means a dreaded enemy. But perhaps in mentioning the MOORS he had in his thoughts the following passage, Acer et Mauri peditis cruentum

Vultus in hoftem.L. I. Od. 2. But here the critics have judiciously red MARSI. So that Johnson is very unlucky, in overlooking the MARSIANS, and in their room fubftituting the Moors.

In Shakespeare's K. Henry V. A& IV. Henry thus apostrophizes ceremony,

And what art thou, thou idol, Ceremony ;
" What kind of God art thou, that suffer'st more
“ Of mortal gricfs, than do thy worshippers ?
“ What are thy rents ? what are thy comings in ?
O ceremony, shew me but thy worth?
" What is thy (s. tbe] soul of adoration ?
“ Art thou ought else but place, degree and form,

Creating awe and fear in other men ?”

What is the foul of adoration, i. e. what real worth, what substantial good is there in it? The printer miftook some ftroke of the pen at the end of the ; or thy in the preceding line caught his eye, and occasioned the error in the following verse.— A very ridiculous correction is proposed in a late edition, “ What is thy toll, o adoration?” Shakespeare uses foul for what is real, fubftantial, &c. in the same play,

“ There is some foul of goodness in things evil,

Would inen observingly diftil it out.” @ome foul of goodness, i. e. some real good. In a Midsum. mer Night's Dream, A& III.


« PreviousContinue »