« PreviousContinue »
Long withering out a young man's revenue.
Four nights will quickly dream away the time;
Of our solemnities.
Enter EGEUS, HERMIA, LYSANDER, and DEMETRIU S.
EGE. Happy be Theseus, our renowned duke!
Against my child, my daughter Hermia.
· New bent. The two quartos of 1600, and the folio of 1623, read “ now bent." New was supplied by Rowe. We believe that now was the original word, but used in the sense of new, both the words having an etymological affinity. In the same manner, we have, in 'All 's Well that Ends Well,' Act II., Scene 3—
whose ceremony Shall seem expedient on the now-born brief." This, in many editions, has been changed to "new-born brief;" certainly without necessity. In the present case the corrected reading must, we apprehend, be received; for now could not be restored without producing an ambiguity. Now, we believe, cannot refer to the state of the moon when Theseus is speaking. The new moon will be bent like the “silver bow;" the “old moon is surely not of the form to which the new moon gives the name-crescent.
See • Two Gentlemen of Verona,' Illustrations of Act V. • Our renowned duke. In a note upon the first chapter of the first book of Chronicles, where we find a list of “ the dukes of Edom,” the editor of the ‘Pictorial Bible' says, “ Duke is rather an awkward title to assign to the chiefs of Edom. The original word is aluph, which would perhaps be best rendered by the general and indefinite title "prince."" At the time of the translation of the Bible, duke was used in this general and indefinite sense. The word, as pointed out by Gibbon, was a corruption of the Latin dux, which was indiscriminately applied to any military chief. Chaucer has duke Theseus,-Gower, duke Spartacus, -Stanyhurst, duke Æneas. The " awkward title was a word in general use; and therefore Steevens is not justified in calling it “a misapplication of a modern title.”
This man. So the old copies. In modern editions man is omitted; and the emphatic repetition of Egeus is in consequence destroyed.
Thou, thou, Lysander, thou hast given her rhymes,
Immediately provided in that case.
To you your father should be as a god;
Demetrius is a worthy gentleman.
In himself he is :
The other must be held the worthier.
I know not by what power I am made bold,
If I refuse to wed Demetrius.
For ever the society of men.
To live a barren sister all your life,
Grows, lives, and dies, in single blessedness.
Ere I will yield my virgin patent up
My soul consents not to give sovereignty
(The sealing-day betwixt my love and me,
For aye, austerity and single life.
Thy crazed title to my certain right.
Let me have Hermia's: do you marry him.
And what is mine my love shall render him ;
I do estate unto Demetrius.
As well possess'd; my love is more than his;
Earthly happier—more happy in an earthly sense. The reading of all the old copies is earthlier happy, and this has been generally followed, although Pope and Johnson proposed earlier happy, and Steevens earthly happy. We have no doubt that Capell's reading, which we have adopted, is the true one; and that the old reading arose out of one of the commonest of typographical errors. The orthography of the folio is earthlier happie ;—if the comparative had not been used, it would have been earthlie happie; and it is easy to see, therefore, that the r has been transposed.
Lordship-authority. The word dominion in our present translation of the Bible (Romans, ch. vi.) is lordship in Wickliffe's translation.
• This is one of those elliptical expressions which frequently occur in our poet. The editor of the second folio, who was not scrupulous in adapting Shakspere's language to the changes of a quarter of a century, printed the lines
“ Unto his lordship, to whose unwish'd yoke," &c. The to must be understood after sovereignty. In the same manner, the particle on must be understood in a passage in 'Cymbeline:'
“ Whom heavens, in justice, (both on her and hers)
Have laid most heavy hand.” (on.)
“What conjurations and what mighty magic
I won his daughter." (with.)
My fortunes every way as fairly rank’d,
Upon this spotted a and inconstant man.
And with Demetrius thought to have spoke thereof;
Of something nearly that concerns yourselves.
(Exeunt Thes., HiP., EGE., Dem., and train. Lys. How now, my love? Why is your cheek so pale?
How chance the roses there do fade so fast? HER. Belike for want of rain; which I could well
Beteem them from the tempest of mine eyes.
Could ever hear by tale or history,
But, either it was different in blood ;-
Spotted-stained, impure; the opposite of spotless.
Ever I, in the folio. I could ever, in the quartos.
“ O cross! too high to be enthrall'd to love." Theobald altered love to low; and the antithesis, which is kept up through the subsequent lines, ustifies the change:-high-low; old-young.
Her. O spite! too old to be engag'd to young!
War, death, or sickness did lay siege to it;
So quick bright things come to confusion.
It stands as an edict in destiny:
Wishes, and tears, poor fancy'se followers.
I have a widow aunt, a dowager
Friends. So the quartos. In the folio we find
“ Or else it stood upon the choice of merit.” The alteration in the folio was certainly not an accidental one; but we hesitate to adopt the reading, the meaning of which is more recondite than that of friends. The “choice of merit” is opposed to the "sympathy in choice;"—the merit of the suitor recommends itself to another's eye,” but not to the person beloved.
• Momentary. So the folio of 1623; the quartos read momentany, which Johnson says is the old and proper word. Momentany has certainly a more antique sound than momentary ; but they were each indifferently used by the writers of Shakspere's time. We prefer the reading of the folio, because momentary occurs in four other passages in our poet's dramas; and this is a solitary example of the use of momentany, and that only in the quartos. The reading of the folio is invariably momentary.
Collied-black, smutted. This is a word still in use in the Staffordshire collieries. Shakspere found it there, and transplanted it into the region of poetry.
In a spleen-in a sudden fit of passion or caprice.
Fancy's followers—the followers of Love. Fancy is here used in the same sense as in the es. quisite song in “ The Merchant of Venice:'
" Tell me where is fancy bred.” The word is repeated with the same meaning three times in this play: in Act II., Scene 2–
“ In maiden meditation, fancy-free;" — in Act III., Scene 2–
“ All fancy-sick she is, and pale of cheer;"– and in Act IV., Scene 1
“ Fair Helena in fancy following me.” Remov'd—the reading of the folio. In the quartos we find remote. The reading of the folio is supported by several parallel passages; as in Hamlet,
“ It wafts you to a more removed ground;"