Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors]

She's young and blessed, “ Sweet as the spring, and as his blossoms tender; “ And I a nipping north-wind, my head hung “ With hail and frosty icicles. Are the souls so too, When they depart hence, lame, and old, and loveless ? “ No, sure 'tis ever youth there; time and death “ Follow our flesh no more; and that forced opinion “ That spirits have no sexes, I believe not ; “ There must be love, there is love."

Mad Lover, Act IV. Sc. I. So Ben Jonson, in his character of Germanicus :

“ Sabinus and myself
“ Had means to know him within; and can report him.
“ We were his followers, he would call us friends;
“ He was a man most like to virtue in all

every action nearer to the gods,
« Than man in nature; of a body as fair
“ As was his mind; and no less reverend
“ In face than fame."

Sejanus, Act I. Sc. I. So Massinger :

There's no drop
“ Of melting nectar I taste from her lip
“ But yields a touch of immortality
“ To the blest receiver ; every grace and feature
“ Prized to the worth, bought at an easy rate
“ If purchased for a consulship. Her discourse
“ So ravishing, and her action so attractive,
“ That I would part with all my other senses,
Provided I might ever see and hear her.”

Roman Actor, Act II. Sc. I. The poetry of that age was not only occasionally redundant, it was as often defective. Even Mr. Steevens acknowledges that an accidental hemistich sometimes occurs in our author's plays, without ascribing it to the blunders of Heminge and Condell : nor were Shakspeare and his dramatick contemporaries alone subject to this accident; for the same measure is found in the satires of Marston and Hall:

Say, curteous sir, speakes he not movingly
“ From out some new pathetique tragedie?
“ He writes, he railes, he jests, he courts, what not,
“ And all from out his huge long scraped stock
Of well penn'd plays."

Marston, sat. 10.

“ Time was, and that was term’d the time of gold,
• When world and time were young, that now are old.

(When quiet Saturne swaid the mace of lead,
“ And Pride was yet unborne, and yet unbred.)
« Time was that whiles the Autumne fall did last
“Our hungrie sires gapte for the falling mast

Of the Dodonian oakes."

Hall, lib. iii. sat. 1. As I have shown that a syllable was sometimes added to the beginning of a line, so one was sometimes withdrawn from it. Massinger is justly praised by Mr. Gifford for the general harmony of his versification ; I will therefore produce two instances from his plays:

Only hold me
Your vigilant Hermes with aërial wings

(My Caduceus my strong zeal to serve you)
« Prest to bring in all rarities may delight you

“ And I am made immortal.”

City Madam, Act III. Sc. II.

Novall slain !
And Beaumelle my daughter in the place,
“ Of one to be arraigned !”.

The Fatal Dowry, Act IV. Sc. IV. Shakspeare, as well as his contemporaries, has sometimes indulged in this licence; but upon two occasions may, perhaps, have done it on purpose, that the sound might correspond to the sense.

In the first scene of Macbeth, the witch says:

« Fair is foul and foul is fair,

Hover through the fog and filthy air.The third scene thus commences :

“1 Witch. Where hast thou been, sister?
2 Witch.

Killing swine." I may be thought fanciful, but I own, that to my ear, there seems to be something characteristick in the swinging cadence of these two lines, which would be lost if we were to make them regular, which might be easily done:

Let's hover through the fog and filthy air

Say where hast thou been, sister ? Killing swine.”

[ocr errors]

Some passages, which are apparently defective, Mr. Malone has proposed to supply, by supposing that many words which are now considered as monosyllables, were pronounced as dissyllables, and vice versa, in Shakspeare's time; and this, to a certain degree, is admitted by Mr. Steevens. With regard to a large class of words, namely, those in which I or r is subjoined to another consonant, the reader will find Mr. Tyrwhitt's opinion, as to the mode in which they may be pronounced, in vol. iv. p. 31, and more largely stated at p. 137, of the same volume. Mr. Malone has followed up this principle, and by its help has endeavoured to show that a line, such as the following:

“ Prove it, Henry, and thou shalt be king," is not deficient in its proper quantity of syllables, if we read Henery. It has been objected to this, that still the line would not be correct measure, as we cannot lay the emphasis on the second syllable of the name Henéry. Mr. Malone never contended that the measure would be correct; but only that it would be such as frequently passed current in our old English poetry. How far this was well founded, will be seen when we come to the discussion of the halting versification, that is found in our ancient writers. But as many deficient lines are found in Shakspeare, it might be a simpler explanation of such passages, to refer them to that class. Mr. Steevens allows that such words as year, hear, may be resolved into dissyllables, because they consist of two vowels; but he denies that the same process is applicable to those which have only one, such as here. This, I apprehend, is totally overthrowing Mr. Tyrwhitt's principle, which teaches us that the letters l or r are susceptible, in themselves, of an additional vowel in pronunciation The licences which were resorted to by the writers of that time in lengthening or shortening words, are fully pointed out in Three Proper, and Wittie, Familiar Letters, by Gabriel Harvey, in the following passage:

“ Nowe for your Heauen, Seauen, Eleauen, or the like, I am likewise of the same opinion: as generally in all words else : we are not to goe a little farther, either for the Prosody, or the Orthography (and therefore your Imaginarie Diastole nothing worthe) then we are licenced and authorized by the ordinarie vse, & custome, and proprietie, and Idiome, and, as it were, Maiestie of our speach : whiche I accounte the only infallible, and soueraigne Rule of all Rules. And therefore hauing respecte therevnto, and reputing it Petty Treason to reuolt therefro: dare hardly eyther in the Prosodie, or in the Orthography either, allowe them two sillables in steade of one, but woulde as well in Writing, as in Speaking, haue them vsed, as Monosyllaba, thus: heavn, seavn, a leavn, as Maister Ascham in his Toxophilus doth Yrne, commonly written Yron : · Vp to the pap his string did he pull, his shafte to the harde

yrne.' Especially the difference so manifestly appearing by the Pronunciation, betwéene these two, a leavn a clocke and a leaven of Dowe, whyche lea-ren admitteth the Diastole, you speake of. But see, what absurdities thys yl fauoured Orthographye, or rather Pseudography, hathe ingendred: and howe one errour still bréedeth and begetteth an other. Haue wée not, Mooneth, for Moonthe : sithence, for since : whilest, for whilste : phantasie, for phansie : euen, for evn: Diuel, for Divl: God hys wrath, for Goddes wrath : and a thousande of the same stampe : wherein the corrupte Orthography in the moste, hathe béene the sole, or principall cause of corrupte Prosodye in ouer

[ocr errors]



Marry, I confesse some wordes we haue indeede, as for example, fayer, either for beautifull, or for a

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


Marte: ayer, both pro aere, and pro hærede, for we say not Heire, but plaine Aire for him to (or else Scoggins Aier were a poore iest) whiche are commonly, and maye indifferently be vsed eyther wayes. For you shal as well, and as ordinarily heare fayer, as faire, and Aier, as Aire, and bothe alike : not onely of diuers and sundrye persons, but often of the very same : otherwhiles vsing the one, otherwhiles the other: and so died, or dyde; spied, or spide : tryed, or tride : fyer, or fyre : myer, or myre: wyth an infinite companye of the same sorte: sometime Monasyllaba, some time Polysyllaba.

Many words in Shakspeare's time were occasionally written with a vowel, which they have now lost, which, according to Wallis, might be considered as a remnant of the e feminine in our ancient language. He has specified commandment, which, even when he wrote, was considered as a word of four syllables. We certainly find it so used by Jonson : “ But when to good men thou art sent

supreme commandement."

Love Restored, folio 1616, vol. i. p. 994.
Cavallery is used for cavalry, by Massinger :

I in mine own person
“ With part of the cavallery, will bid
“ These hunters welcome to a bloody breakfast.”

The Maid of Honour, Act II. Sc. III.
Nor was this confined to poetry. Thus, in Grimes-
ton's translation of Polybius, 1634, p. 80: “ At first
the Gaules had the better, for that the Roman horse-
men were surprized by theirs. But being afterwards
environed by the Roman Cavallery, they were broken
and defeated.”
Spenser makes safety a word of three syllables :

“ ) goodly golden chayne wherewith y fere
“ The vertues linked are in lovely wise
“ And noble minds of you allyed were
“ In brave poursuitt of chivalrous emprize
“ That none did others safety despize.”

Fairy Queen, b. i. canto ix. st. 1.

By Joves

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »