Page images
PDF
EPUB

In King Henry VIII. Act III. Sc. the laft. “ Say, Wolsey, that once trod the ways of glory, « And founded all the depths and shoals of honour, “ Found thee a way, &c. Mr. W.-" Rode the waves of glory.". In Julius Cæsar, Act II.

" But do not fain • The even virtue of our enterprize, “ Nor th' insuppressive mettle of our spirits " To think that or our cause, or our performance,

« Did need an oath. Mr. W. to preserve the integerity of the metaphor, reads, “ do not sTRAIN.”

In Antony and Cleopatra, Aa I.
“ Take but good note, and you shall see in him
The triple pillar of the world transformid

“ Into a strumpet's fool. “ The metaphor is here miserably mangled ; we should « read.

Into a strumpet's STOOL,” Mr. W. There is much more of this kind of uncritical stuff in the late edition ; but I am already weary with transcribing.

[ocr errors]

Page 216. SHAKESPEARE was a great reader of the scriptures, and from the bold figures and metaphors be found there cariched his own elfewhere unmatched ideas.

I could with some of our modern poets would follow the example of the three best Makers, that our nation, or

perhaps,

perhaps any nation, ever saw; and like them search the feriptures, at least for furnishing their minds with interesting images and expressions. SPENCER is full of beauties of this kind : and I could easily fhew in many places of Milton, how finely he has enriched his verses with scriptural thoughts, even where he seems moft closely to have copied Virgil or Homer. For example, B. I, 84.

If thou beeft he-But o how fallen ! how changed
From him, who in the happy realms of light
Cloth'd quith transcendent brightness, didft outshine
Myriads tho' bright!

Tho' this seems closely followed from Virgil, Aen. II. 274.

Hei mihi qualis erat, quantum mutatus ab illo
Hectore, qui, &c.

Yet what additional beauty does it receive from Isaiah xiv, 12. How art thou fallen from heaven, o Lucifer, son of the morning! &c.

Neither the mythological account of Pallas being born from the brain of Jupiter, nor the poetical description of Error by Spencer in his Fairy Queen, would have been fufficient authority for our divine poet's episode in his second book of sin and DEATH : had not scripture told us, James i, 14. Then when Lust bath conceived, it bringeth forth SIN ;; and sin when it is finished, bringeth forth DEATH.

In B. IV, 996, &c. Tho' it is plain the poet had strongly in his mind the golden scales of Jupiter, mentioned both by Homer and Virgil ; yet he is entirely governed by scripture ; for Satan only is weighed, viz. his parting and his fight, Dan.v, 27. TEKEL, THOU art weigh'd in the balances, and art found wanting. And before, $. 998. His

Dd

ftature

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

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

In B. V, 254

The gate self open'd wide
On golden binges turning.
So again, B. VII, 205. This has its fanction more from
Pl. xxiv, 7. than from Hom. N. é. 749. Avrópoland
σύλαι μύκον έρανε. .
In B. XII, 370.

He pali afcend
The throne hereditary, and bound his reign
With earth's wide bounds, bis 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. Pfal. 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 pallages. For example. B. III,

383.
“ Thee next they fung of all creation first,

Begotten Son,"?
First of all creation, i.e. before all worlds, begotten not
made, according to the Greek idiom : as in John I, 15.
mgūtós fast 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 first, Begotten fon."

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

In allusion to St. Paul's words. Coloff. i, 15. IIçulótonos acons xlicews And let this hint at present fuffice. Page 243.

" SHAKESPEARE wrote, Young “ ADAM Cupid, &c. The printer, or tran

fcriber, gave us this ABRAM, mistaking the d for br: and thus made a paffage direct nonSense, which was understood in SHAKESPEARE's 66 time. by all bis audience."]

A letter blotted, or a stroke of the pen, might easily occasion the corruption. The reader will not be dilpleased, perhaps, to see some passages cleared up, 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 fe « More than the boundis of

myn

honeftes Why lykid me thy youth and thy fairneffe,

“ And of thy tongue the’infonite graciousnesse?" These verses are translated from Ovid ; Cur mihi plus aequo flavi placuere capilli?

« Et decor, et linguae gratia Ficta tuae ? Can it be-doubted them but that Chaucer wrote gfained or ifained, 4. e. feigned, diffembled ;' th? Ifained gràciousness, GRATIA DICTA ? And that the safnpite belongs to fome ignorant, or wrong guefling tranfcriber There is another blunder which has exercised the critics ; and is thus printed in the late edition. p. 4. in the Prologues 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, carte and galingale."
Dd 2

I would

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

I would read,

“ And purveigh manchet, &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 them for in the fol-
lowing,

“ 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, store. . See c. 8. ft. 34.

In the Two Noble Kinsmen of Beaumont and Fletcher we have this blunder, Daught. By my troth, I think Fame but stammers them,

they " Stand A GRIEF above the reach of report.” Which should thus be corrected,

They ftandiA 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. I, 452.

Aerea cui gradibus furgebant limina." The brazen grees afore the dares did mount. Hence, we are led to its etymology, from Gradus. Again, In the Night of the Burning Pestle, A& II. " 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. 5. The second hight Tapftro,”'

[ocr errors]

The

« PreviousContinue »