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Ib. sc. 2. Cupid's speech: Warburton's correction of
There taste, touch, all pleas'd from thy table rise into
Th' ear, taste, touch, smell, &c.
This is indeed an excellent emendation.
nor then silenc'd with
Plays in the right hand, thus:Either, methinks, 'plays' should be 'play'd,' or • and' should be changed to "while.' I can certainly understand it as a parenthesis, an interadditive of scorn; but it does not sound to my ear as in Shakspeare's manner. Ib. sc. 2. Timon's speech: (Theobald.)
And that unaptness made you minister,
Thus to excuse yourself. Read your ;—at least I cannot otherwise understand the line. You made my chance indisposition and occasional unaptness your minister-that is, the ground on which you now excuse yourself. Or, perhaps, no correction is necessary, if we construe 'made you' as did you make;' and that unaptness
you make help you thus to excuse yourself.' But the former seems more in Shakspeare's manner, and is less liable to be misunderstood. *
• • Your' is the received reading now.
Act iii. sc. 3: Servant's speech :How fairly this lord strives to appear foul!-takes vir tuous copies to be wicked; like those that under hot, urdent, real would set whole realms on fire. Of such a nature is his politic love.
This latter clause I grievously suspect to have been an addition of the players, which had hit, and, being constantly applauded, procured a settled occupancy in the prompter's copy. Not that Shakspeare does not elsewhere sneer at the Puritans; but here it is introduced so nolenter volenter (excuse the phrase) by the head and shoulders ! and is besides so much more likely to have been conceived in the age of Charles I.
Act iv. sc. 2. Tinion's speech :
Raise me this beggar, and clony't that lord.
Warburton reads : denude.'
I cannot see the necessity of this alteration. The editors and commentators are, all of them, ready enough to cry out against Shakspeare's laxities and licenses of style, forgetting that he is not merely a poet, but a dramatic poet; that, when the head and the heart are swelling with fulness, a man does not ask himself whether he has grammatically arranged, but only whether (the context taken in) he has conveyed, his meaning. 'Deny” is here clearly equal to 'withhold;' and the it,' quite in the genius of vehement conversation, which a syntaxist explains by ellipses and subauditurs in a Greek or Latin classic, yet triumphs over as
ignorances in a contemporary, refers to accidental and artificial rank or elevation, implied in the verb
raise.' Besides, does the word “denude' occur in any writer before, or of, Shakspeare's age?
ROMEO AND JULIET.
HAVE previously had occasion to speak at
large on the subject of the three unities of time, place, and action, as applied to the drama in the abstract, and to the particular stage for which Shakspeare wrote, as far as he can be said to have written for any stage but that of the universal mind. I hope I have in some mcasure succeeded in demonstrating that the former two, instead of being rules, were mere inconveniences attached to the local peculiarities of the Athenian drama; that the last alone deserved the name of a principle, and that in the preservation of this unity Shakspeare stood pre-eminent. Yet, instead of unity of action, I should greatly prefer the more appropriate, though scholastic and uncouth, words homogeneity, proportionateness, and totality of interest, -expressions, which involve the distinction, or rather the essential difference, betwixt the shaping skill of mechanical talent, and the creative, productive, life-power of inspired genius. In the former each part is separately conceived, and then by a succeeding act put together ;-not as watches are made for wholesale,-(for there each part supposes a pre-conception of the whole in some mind)—but more like pictures on a motley screen. Whence arises the harmony that strikes us in the wildest natural landscapes, - in the relative shapes of rocks, the harmony of colours in the heaths, ferns, and lichens, the leaves of the beech and the oak, the stems and rich brown branches of the birch and other mountain trees, varying from verging autuinn to returning spring, --compared with the visual effect from the greater number of artificial plantations ?- From this, that the natural land. scape is effected, as it were, by a single energy modified ab intra in each component part. And as this is the particular excellence of the Shakspearian drama generally, so is it especially characteristic of the Romeo and Juliet.
The groundwork of the tale is altogether in family life, and the events of the play have their first origin in family feuds. Filmy as are the eyes of party-spirit, at once dim and truculent, still there is commonly some real or supposed object in view, or principle to be maintained; and though but the twisted wires on the plate of rosin in the preparation for electrical pictures, it is still a guide in some degree, an assimilation to an outline. But in family quarrels, which have proved scarcely less injurious to states, wilfulness, and precipitancy, and passion from mere habit and custom, can alone be expected. With his accustomed judgment, Shak
speare has begun by placing before us a lively picture of all the impulses of the play; and, as nature ever presents two sides, one for Heraclitus, and one for Democritus, he has, by way of prelude, shown the laughable absurdity of the evil by the contagion of it reaching the servants, who have so little to do with it, but who are under the necessity of letting the superfluity of sensoreal power fly off through the escape-valve of wit-combats, and of quarrelling with weapons of sharper edge, all in humble imitation of their masters. Yet there is a sort of unhired fidelity, an ourishness about all this that makes it rest pleasant on one's feelings. All the first scene, down to the conclusion of the Prince's speech, is a motley dance of all ranks and ages to one tune, as if the horn of Huon had been playing behind the scenes. Benvolio's speech
Madam, an hour before the worshipp'd sun
Peer'd forth the golden window of the eastand, far more strikingly, the following speech of old Montague
Many a morning hath he there been seen
With tears augmenting the fresh morning dewprove that Shakspeare meant the Romeo and Juliet to approach to a poem, which, and indeed its early date, may be also inferred from the multitude of rhyming couplets throughout. And if we are right, from the internal evidence, in pronouncing this one