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not to detain the reader, I have been silent, and instead of aspiring to the fame of a licentious commentator, sought only for the quiet approbation with which the father or the husband may reward the faithful editor.'
Having selected these preliminary observations from Mr. Gifford's Introduction, which abounds not less with acuteness of remark than with asperity of censure, we shall proceed to inquire concerning the success which has attended his own ens deavours to illustrate his autlior; and here our attention is na. turally directed to such of his notes as tend, at the same time, to throw light on similar passages in our inimitable bard Shakspeare. In the Virgin-Martyr, Act. 3. Sc. 3. we have this note :
before that peevish lady Had to do with you,] Peevish is foolish ; thus, in the Merry (Vives of Windsor, Mrs. Quickly says of her fellow servant, “ His worst fault is, that he is given to prayer; he is something peevish that way." Mr. Malone thinks this to be one of damy Quickly's blunders, and that she means to say precise : but I believeert is mistaken. In Hycke Scorner, the word is used in the very sense here given :
“ For an I sholde do after your scole
To learn to pater to make me pevysse.”' Again in God's Revenge against Adu'tery; “ Albemare kept a man. fool of some forty years old in his house, who indeed was so naturally perib, as not Milan, hardly Italy, could match him for simplicity.
After this, we were rather surprised to find the following observation on a passage in which the word seems to be used in the same sence. Sir Giles Over-reach is reproving his daughter for wiching to delay her marriage :
" He tells you true! 'tis the fashion, on my knowlege:
Yet the good lord, to please your peevishness,
New ll'ay to pay old Debts. Act 4. 3, • Yil the good lord, to please your peevishness,] i. c. you, his daughter, to whom he gives the title. I have sometimes thought that this mode of expression, which is more common than cursory read, ers, perhaps, imagine, is not sufficiently attended to by the commen. tators. Many difficulties would vanish if these appellations were duly notic-d, and applied.'
In Ite Unnatural Combat, Act 2. Sc. i. we read
safely commended to his future researches, as not unlikely to reward his pains. He will find in it, among many other things equally valuable that, " The knowledge of wickedness is not wisdom, neither at any time, the couns i of sinners prudence." Eccles. xix. 22.'
• It adds to my calamity, that I have
• Discourse and reason.] It is very difficult to determine the precise meaning which our ancestors gave to discourse; or to distinguish the line which separated it from reason. Perhaps, it indicated a more rapid deduction of consequences from premises, than was supposed to be effected by reason :---but I speak with hesitation. The acute Glanville says, “ the act of the mind which connects propositions, and deduceth conclusions from them, the schools call discourse, and we sball not miscal it, if we name it reason." Whatever be the sense, it frequently appears in our old writers, by whom it is usually coupled with reason or judgment, which last should seem to be the more proper word. Thus in the City Modam :
6. Such as want Discourse and judgment, and through weakness fall,
May merit men's compassion." Again, in the Coxcomb :
“ Why should a man that has discourse and reason,
And knows how near he loses in all these things,
Covet to have his wishes satisfied?"
“ Oh heaven! a beast that wants discourse of reason,” &c. This,” says Warburton, who contrived to blunder with core ingenuity than usually falls to the lot of a commentator, “ is finely expressed, and with a philosophical exactness ! Beasts want not reason, (this is a new discovery) “but the discourse of reason : i.e. the regu. lar inferring one thing from another by the assistance of universals”! Discourse of reason is so poor and perplexed a phrase, that, without regard for the 's philosophical exactness" of Shakspeare, I should dismiss it at once, for what I believe to be his gennine language:
4 O heaven! a beast that wants discourse and reason, Perhaps discourse is thus commonly connected with reason, as forming together the barrier by which man is separated from all other animals.
In The Boudsman, Act 1. Sc. 3.
• While you a
-cry aim !
• Like idle lockers on,] Coxeter, who seems not to have understood the expression, gave the incorrect reading of the second quarto, ary, ty me ! which, after all, was nothing more than an accidental disjunction of the last word (ayine) at the press. Mr. M. Mason follows him in the text, but observes, in a note, that we should read cry aim. There is no doubt of it; and so it is distinctly given in the first and best copy. The e pression is so common in the writers of Massinger's time, and, indeed, in Massinger himself, that it is difficult to say how it could ever be misunderstood. The phrase, as Warburton ob. serves, Merry Wives of Windsor, Act II. sc. il. was taken from archery : “ When any one had challenged another to shoot at the butts, the standers by used to say one to the other, Cry airn, i. e. accept the challenge.” Steevens rejects this explanation, which, ia fact, has neither truth vor probability to recommend it; and adds : " It seems to have been the office of the aim-cryer, to give notice to B 4
the archer when he was within a proper distance of his mark," &ca Here this acute critick has fallen with the rest of the commentators, into an errour. Aim! for so it should be printed and not cry aim, was always addressed to the person about to shoot : it was an hortatory exclamation of the bystanders, or as Massinger has it, of the idle lookers on, intended for his encouragement. But the mistake of Steevens arises from his confounding cry aim! with give aim. To cry aim! as I have already observed, was to ENCOURAGE ; to give aim, was to DIRECT, and in these distinct and appropriate senses the words perpetually occur.
There was no such office as aim cryer, as asserted above; the business of encouragement being abandoned to such of the spectators as chose to interfere : to that of direction, indeed, there was a special person appointed. Those who cried aim ! stood by the archers ; he who gave it, was stationed near the butts, and pointed out after every discharge, how wide, or how short the arrow fell of the mark. An example or two will make all this clear :
" It ill becomes this presence to cry aim !
King Fohren i. e, to encourage.
“ Before his face plotting his own abuse,
To which himself gives aim:
Misses his brows but narrowly." A Mad World my Masters. i. e. directs.
“ Now to be patient were to play the pander
To the viceroy's base embraces, and cry aim !
The Renegade. i. e. encourage them.
“ This way I toil in vain, and give but aim
To infamy and ruin ; he will fall,
The Roaring Girl, i. e, direct them.
" --Standyng rather in his window to cry aime ! than help-yng any waye to part the fraye.” Featon's Tragical Discourses, ie. to encourage.
“ I myself gave aim thus,-Wide, four bows ! short, three and a half” Middleton's Spanish Gypsie. i. e. directed
• I should apologize for the length of this note, were it not that I fatter myself the distinct and appropriate meaning of these two phrases is ascertained in it, and finally established.' Again, in the sanie scene
Let me wear
Tbal look no further than your outward form,
I am &c ] This is evidently copied from that much contested speech of Oihello, Aet l. sc. iii:“ Iiherefore beg it not,” &c. as is the following passage, in the Fair Maid of the Inn :
se Shall we take our fortune ? and while our cold fathers,
In whom long since their youthful heats were dead,
And seek a mistress ?" And as this shows how Shakspeare's contemporariez understood the lines, it should, I think, with us, be decisive of their meaning. The old reading, with the alteration of one letter by Johnson, standa
I therefore beg it not
affects In me defunct, and proper satisfaction,” &c. • The admirers of Shakspeare cannot but recollect with dismay, the prodigious mass of conjectural criticism which Steevens has accu. mulated on this passage, as well as the melancholy presage with which it terminates ; that, after all, “ it will probably prove a lasting source of doubt and controversy.” I confess I see little occasion for either; nor can I well conceive why, after the rational and unforced explanation of Johnson, the worthless reveries of Theobald, Tollet, &c. were admitted.- Affects occur incessantly in the sense of passions, affections: young affects are therefore perfectly synonymous with youthful beats. Othello, like Timoleon, was not an old man, though he bad lost the fire of youth ; the criticks might therefore have dismissed that concern for the lady, which they have so delicately communicated for the edification of the rising generation.
• I have said thus much on the subject, because I observe, that the numerous editions of Shakspeare now preparing, lay claim to patronage on the score of religiously following the text of Stee. vens. I am not prepared to deny that this is the best which lias hitherto appeared; though I have no difficulty in affirming that those will deserve well of the publick, who shall bring back some readings which he has discarded, and reject others which he has adopted. In the present instance, for example, his text, besides being unwar. ranted, and totally foreign from the meaning of his author, can scarcely be reconciled either to grammar or sense.
• I would wish the future editors of Shakspeare to consider, whether he might not have given affect in the singular, (this also is used for passion,) to correspond with heat; and then the lines may be thus regulated :
“Nor to comply with heat, (the young affect's
In me defunct,) and proper satisfaction.”
• Giovanni, ! A prince in expectation, when he lived here,
Stole courtesy from heaven, &c.] This is from Shakspeare, and the plain meaning of the phrase is, that the affability and sweetness of Giovanni were of a heavenly kind, i. e. more perfect than was usually found among men ; resembling that divine condescension which ex. cludes none from its regard, and therefore immediately derived or stolen from heaven, from
whence all good proceede. In this there is
no impropriety: common usage warrants the application of the term to a variety of actions which imply nothing of turpitude, but rather the contrary : affections are stolen--in a word, to siral, here, and in many other places, means little else than to win by importunity, by imperceptible progression, by gentle violence, &c.
: I mention this, because it appears to me that the commentators on our great poet have altogether mistaken him :
“ And then I stole all courtesy from heaven,
And dress’d myself in such humility,
Hen. IV. Part I. Act III. sc. ij. This," says Warburton, who is always too refined for his subject, “is an allusion to the story of Prometheus, who stole fire from thence; and as with this he made a man, so with thai Bolingbroke made a king:" If there be any allusion to the story, (which I will not deny.) it is of the most remote and obscure kind; plication of it, however, is surely too absurd for serious notice. Steevens supposes the meaning to be, "I was so affable, that I engross. ed the devotion and reverence of all men to myself, and thus de franded benven of its worshippers.” Is heaven worshipped with "afs fability ?” or have politeness and elegance of manners such irresiste ible charms, that, when found below, they must of necessity "engross all devotion,” and exclude the Deity from our thoughts? This is not the language, nor are these the ideas of Shaksptare : and it would well become the criticks to pause before they seriously disgrace him with such impious absurdities.'
We shall confine ourselves to one more specimen of successsul elucidation of Shakspeare and Massinger conjointly, in the following passage from A very Woman, Act 4. Sc. 2.
• Ir way of youth I did enjoy one friend, ] There is no passage in Shakspeare on which more bias been written than the following one in Macbetb :
“ I have lived long enough, my way of life
Is fallen into the sere, the yellow leaf, &c. For way of lie Johnson would rear May of life ; in which he is fol lowed by Colman, Langton, Steevens, and others: and Mr. Henley, a very confident gentleman, declares that he “has now no doubt that Shakspeare wrote illay of life,” which is also the settled opinion” of Mr. Davies! At a subsequent period Steevens appears to have changed his opinion, and acquiesced in the old reading, way of life, which he interprets, with Mr. M. Mason, course or progress, prea çisely as Warburton, whom every mousing owl bawks at, led done long before them. Mr. Malose follows the same track, and if the words bad signified what he supposed them to do, nothing more would be necessary on the subject. The fact, however, is that these ingenious writers have mistaken the phrase, which is neither more nor less than a simple periphrasis for life, as cray of youth, in the text, is for youth. A few examples will make this clear: