« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
congregation of vapours. What a piece of worke is a inan! how Noble in Reason? how infinite in faculty ? in forme and mouing how expresse and admirable ? in Action, how like an Angel ? in apprehension, how like a God ? the beauty of the world, the Parragon of Animals; and yet to me, what is this Quintessence of Dust? Man delights not me; no, nor Woman neither; though by your smiling you seeme to say so.
THE GLOBE OF 1865. Guil. My lord, we were sent for.
Ham. I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the king and queen moult no feather. I have of late-but wherefore I know not-lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises ; and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory, this most excellent canopy the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel ! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? man delights not me ; no, nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.
Before proceeding to throw out some hints for the rectification of certain passages in the dramas, we must have a word or two with the editors of “ The Globe” regarding their arrangement of the works. What principle they have followed in the matter is not apparent-we rather suspect they have been guided by no principle at all, or any mode different from the ancient stereotyped arrangement which has generally prevailed for a century and a half. Malone made a laudable attempt to discover the order in which the productions were written, and to arrange them accordingly; but his effort was not followed up. Accordingly, in placing the works, Warburton followed Pope, and Johnson followed Warburton, and so on, with slight variations, down to our own times, the task of systematising the works having been apparently given up in despair by most of the editors. How this should have happened it would be hard to say. It will be granted at once that a great difficulty lies in the way of arranging the works in the order, or in anything like the order, in which they were written; but the difficulty does not seem to be so insuperable as to excuse all attempts by good scholars to overcome it. 'Twere melancholy indeed to believe that the science of criticism is to stand still for ever —and yet, in so far as we are aware, the fact remains that after more than a century of study of the works of Shakspere by some of the most eminent literary men the country has produced, we are almost exactly where we were, without any intelligent attempt being made to educe order out of the existing chaos. What we mean the reader will better
since the play of a Theolobe," the oth the Poems correed on
understand by examples. In all the ordinary editions issued since that of Pope--that is, for the last hundred and forty years, the play of “ The Tempest” is placed first in the list, just as it is in “ The Globe," the others following in much the same order in all the editions, and the Poems coming at the end. Now, it so happens that if critics have agreed on any one point in Shaksperian literature, it is that this particular play was among the last, if not the very last, which 22222222222 /\§Â2Ò2/2/2ūti?2Ứ►ăm2?22/2/2ti2\ņģņēÂ time, complained of the position occupied by “The Tempest," remarking that it could never have been the first play written by Shakspere. And we all know that it was not. Yet here it is—here is the anachronism in all its original freshness. Another example occurs in the case of “Othello." This tragedy, as we learn from the “ accounts of the revels at court," was played at the Banquetting House at Whitehall in November 1604, after which period, as we also know, several of the very greatest of Shakspere's works were produced; but, notwithstanding, all the common editionsthose in which, as in “ The Globe,” the tragedies are not printed separately—6 Othello" is thrown to the very end. Pope and Johnson place it last; “ The Globe” editors fourth from the last. Such critical carelessness is certainly not complimentary to the inquiring spirit of the age. We might remark similarly as to the treatment of the poems of 66 Venus and Adonis" and 66 The Rape of Lucrece,” which are uniformly printed at the end of the plays, although in the case of the first-named there exists the statement under Shakspere's own hand that it was the first heir of his invention,” and in relation to both productions we have the advantage of knowing the exact date of publication. Then, there still remain unsettled the vexed questions regarding the genuineness of “ Pericles," “ Titus Andronicus,” and some of the historical plays, the two first-mentioned of which are tossed about in the ordinary editions at the caprice of the editors. Is there no way of amending this discreditable state of matters, and of giving us a Shakspere as Shakspere wrote? We are not blind to the difficulties to be encountered in the task, because opinions even amongst good judges would differ regarding the merits of particular works as indicating a youthful and immature or a practised and perfect style. Still, there are good grounds for believing that a combination of critics of acumen and insight, intimately acquainted with the style and manner of Shakspere -a style and manner emphatically his own—and whose
which of the histori - Pericles ho vexed questication. Thehe
minds had, so to speak, become saturated with the essentials of his genius, might accomplish something towards clearing up the existing confusion, and showing us the gradual development of his faculties through the medium of his works. The only edition we happen to have seen in which ti2ūti2t2ti2ģētiņūtiņ2 ?2?Â§2ņēmēņ2ģēti\/2\/2ū22?Â§2§Â2Ò2ÂòÂffi mâm2/2ņēmò2/2 whose arrangement is so highly paiseworthy and successful as to warrant other efforts being made by scholars towards the same result. Mr Staunton begins his first volume with “ The Two Gentlemen of Verona," ending the last volume with “ Cymbeline” and the poems. In his first volume the plays run in the following order :
The Two Gentlemen of Verona.
Much Ado About Nothing. This is so far good, the arrangement representing with some faint show of probability the dawning of Shakspere's genius, but Mr Staunton relies too exclusively on chronology, and will venture on no suggestion without the aid of dates, Thus, “ Pericles” does not appear until the middle of the second volume, nor does “ Titus Andronicus” till well on in the third, he along with every student of the poet being well aware all the while that the last-named pieces should have a place towards the very beginning of the works, if they are entitled to admission at all.
In the last age two men existed whose varied accomplishments eminently fitted them for the task of editing Shakspere — we mean Coleridge and Professor Wilson. Unfortunately, however, the first-named could do nothing unless by fits and starts, and, incapable of continuous labour, he allowed his wide Shaksperian knowledge and high enthusiasm to evaporate in fitful outbursts of fantastic eulogy. A great misfortune to literature-almost as great as the neglect shown by Wilson, whose grand sympathetic soul was in many respects akin to that of Shakspere, and who, we cannot help thinking, had he devoted himself to this author in place of Homer, might have done more for
highesthe allowed starts, a first-named Pro eulog enthusiasmved his wicand, Timed could
the greatest of his literary compeers than all the other critics put together. Especially would his imaginative and keen critical intellect been serviceable towards the elucidation of the difficulties connected with the proper arrangement of Shakspere's works.
11.-SUGGESTED EMENDATIONS. One of the passages of " Hamlet” which has proved a puzzle to the commontators, is that involved in the conversation between Hamlet and his mother (act 3) after the accidental murder of Polonius. We ask the attention of those interested while we endeavour to clear up the apparent riddle. In the First Folio the passage reads (we quote literally)
Assume a Vertue, if you haue it not, refraine to-night,
To the next abstinence. Shakspere had expanded the expostulation of Hamlet to what follows, albeit the editors of the Folio seem to have been ignorant of the circumstance. « The Globe” edition reads
Assume a virtue if you have it not.
With wondrous potency. In this passage-how appropriately and beautifully it has been amplified and the sentiment enforced !- it will beobserved that two marks † (daggers they are called by printers) occur, here and elsewhere used by the editors to point out that the meaning of the lines in which they are used is imperfect or obscure. For this and other examples of conscientious care the editors are deserving of all esteem, since caution is better than dogmatism, yet as it happens that the wanting word is almost the sole lacuna of the kind in the volume, and as the sense appears to be tolerably obvious, one is inclined to think that a degree of unnecessary delicacy has been here displayed. It has to be admitted,
however, that the editors of 66 The Globe” have here failed in good company, including as that does a very numerous and accomplished body of Shaksperian scholars. The rectification of this line has proved a stumbling-block to them all, from Rowe to Messrs Clark and Wright, through more than a century of critical inquiry, the undoubted explanation lying all the while not very far from the surface." Malone conjectured the reading to be, 6 and either curb the devil,” and it is thus printed in the ordinary editions. Mr Staunton in his edition of 1860—following so far Pope and Warburton, who would read 6 and masters even the devil,” -gives the lection " and masters the devil,” in a note thus explaining :
The quartos 1604 and 1608 present this line “and either the devil,” &c. ; the after ones read as above, which, as it affords sense, though destructive to the metre, we retain, not, however, without acknowledging a preference for Malone's conjecture, “ and either curb the devil,” &c.
Mr Staunton's critical acumen, which shines in general most conspicuously in his textual comments and suggestions, is here entirely at fault. He has laboured, with great success, by the aid of extensive reading in the old writers, contemporaries of Shakspere and others, and by references to the great author himself, making expressions of Shakspere's different works to throw light on other expressions, to restore the missing sense of many passages, thus in several instances bringing order and beauty out of confusion. Neither he, however, nor any of his numerous brother commentators, in so far as we are aware, have hit upon the right explanation of the line under review. The stumbling-block of Mr Staunton and other critics is the word “ either,” which they would have changed to some other word as a misprint of the early printers, while a second class of critics, represented by the editors of “ The Globe” edition, think the word o either” should remain as it is, and that a verb following it has been accidentally omitted in the earlier editions. Hence the gap left by 66 The Globe” editors, and hence the guess of Malone, who would fill it up by the word “ curb.” But without doubt the critics, one and all, have missed the mark in this instance, as we hope satisfactorily to show. If the whole passage is carefully considered, we think it will be seen that the idea Shakspere puts into the mouth of Hamlet is not that of mastering, curbing, or controlling the evil one, but that, on the contrary, the context requires the idea of keeping, retaining, or housing him. Let the passage be read
omihe Globe up by the all, bayerily to sink it