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Quel che si fa
ben Dio non aggrava, Anzi ride el spergiuro de gli amanti.”
Bojardo,—Orlando Innam. lib. 1. c. xxii. st. 42.
Act iii. sc. 2.
Spread thy close curtain, love-performing night,
“ The line of Juliet's speech, as usually printed,
"That run-away's eyes may wink,' &c.
has always been a stumbling-block, and perhaps no emendation can be declared perfectly satisfactory. The change proposed by the corrector of the folio, 1632, at all events makes very clear sense out of the passage, although it may still remain question, whether that sense be the sense of the poet? another subsidiary question will be, how so elaborate a misprint could have been made out of so simple and common a word ? He gives
That enemies' eyes may wink,' . . . In the margin of the folio, 1632, enemies is spelt enimyes; but the letters are, perhaps, too few to have been mistaken for run-awaies. At the same time it seems extremely natural that Juliet should wish the eyes of enemies to be closed," &c. Collier's Notes and Emendations, &c. p. 381.
Both Mr. Collier and Mr. Knight, in their editions of Shakespeare, adopted the villanous conjecture of Zachary Jackson,—“That, unawares, eyes may wink:” and other conjectures have more recently been offered by myself and others, all perhaps bad enough, but certainly quite as good as the Manuscript-corrector's "enemies'."
The spelling of the first folio is "run-awayes," not, as Mr. Collier seems to suppose, "run-awaies."
I now venture to submit another conjecture to the reader ;
“ That roving eyes may wink," &c.
a conjecture founded on the supposition that the word “roving" having been written (and written rather illegibly) “ roauinge” (Fairfax, in his Tasso, B. iv. st. 87, has,
" At some her gazing glances roauing flew"),
the compositor metamorphosed it into "run-awayes. ”
Act iv. sc. 4.
“ Cap. Come stir, stir, stir! the second cock hath crow'd,
Go, go, you cot-quean, go.
you to bed: 'faith, you'll be sick tomorrow For this night's watching.
Cap. No, not a whit. What! I have watch'd ere now All night for lesser cause, and ne'er been sick.
La. Cap. Ay, you have been a mouse-hunt in your time," &c.
“A cot-quean," says Mr. Hunter, "is the wife of a faithless husband, and not, as Johnson, who knew little of the language of Shakespeare's time, explains it, a man who busies himself about kitchen affairs.' It occurs twice in Golding's translation of the story of Tereus. The Nurse is speaking to Lady Capulet, and the word calls forth all the conversation which follows about jealousy. Authori
ties for this being the true sense might be produced in abundance." New Illustr. of Shakespeare, ii. 138.
But Golding, in the passage to which Mr. Hunter refers, has cuc-queane, which is a distinct word from cotquean, though they are sometimes confounded by early writers,-a cuc-quean (cuck-quean, or cock-quean) meaning a she-cuckold; a cot-quean, a man who busies himself too much in women's affairs. In Fletcher's Love's Cure, act ii. sc. 2, Bobadilla says to Lucio (who has been brought up as a girl), “ Diablo! what should you do in the kitchen? cannot the cooks lick their fingers, without your overseeing ? nor the maids make pottage, except your dog's head be in the pot? Don Lucio ? Don Quot-quean, Don Spinster! wear a petticoat still, and put on your smock a' Monday; I will have a baby o'clouts made for it, like a great girl;"—where “ Quot-quean” is a corrupt form of “ Cot-quean.” Even in Addison's days the word cot-quean was still used to signify one who is too busy in meddling with women's affairs : see the letter of an imaginary lady in The Spectator, No. 482.—Mr. Hunter's notion, that " the Nurse is speaking to Lady Capulet,” is, I think, sufficiently disproved by the context.
Act v. sc. 1.
So Malone, following the valuable quarto of 1597. The meaning (about which he and some other commentators make such a pother) is, in vulgar prose, - If I may trust the visions with which my eye flattered me during sleep.
Both Mr. Collier and Mr. Knight give, with the quarto of 1599, the later quartos, and the folios, “ the flattering truth of sleep :" Mr. Collier, however, makes no attempt to explain that reading; neither does Mr. Knight, who merely observes, “ It is not difficult to see the growth of that philosophical spirit in Shakespeare which suggested the substitution of the word 'truth,' which opens to the mind a deep volume of metaphysical inquiry,"_intimating perhaps that it would require a whole volume to make plain to us what Shakespeare meant by the word "truth.”
The Notes and Emendations, &c. furnish us with a new reading. “Sleep,” says Mr. Collier, “is often resembled to death, and death to sleep; and when Romeo observes, as the correction in the folio, 1632, warrants us in giving the passage,
'If I may trust the flattering death of sleep,'
he calls it the flattering death of sleep' on account of the dream of joyful news from which he had awaked : during this 'flattering death of sleep,' he had dreamed of Juliet, and of her revival of him by the warmth of her kisses."
Now, I have not forgotten how our early writers characterise Sleep,—for instance, I recollect that Sleep is called by Sackville "cousin of Death" and "a living death,” and by Daniel, “ brother to Death;" but I remember nothing in the whole range of poetry which bears any resemblance to such a combination of words as "the flattering death of sleep;" and, though I may lay myself open to the charge of presumption, I unhesitatingly assert, not only that the expression never could have come from Shakespeare's pen, but that it is akin to nonsense.
Act v. sc. 1.
Ap. My poverty, but not my will, consents.
A writer in The Westminster Review, vol. xliv. p. 61, says that “Mr. Knight [in the last line of the above passage] very properly restores the reading of the second 4to and the first folio, pray:' the relation here is between Romeo's earnestly repeated prayer and the apothecary's consent : the moment for paying him is not yet arrived." But what does the writer understand by the concluding words of Romeo's preceding speech, “take this?" can he doubt that “this” means the gold which Romeo holds in his hand, ready to pay the Apothecary?
Act v. sc. 3.
“ Par. I do defy thy conjurations."
Both Mr. Knight and Mr. Collier having rejected the reading "conjurations” for the misprint " commiseration," and Mr. Collier having observed that “the sense of conjurations is not clear," I adduced a passage from an early drama, where “conjuration” signifies earnest entreaty (see Remarks, &c. p. 176). It may not be useless to notice here, that the word occurs in the same sense in a onceadmired modern novel : “ the arguments, or rather the conjurations, of which I have made use,” &c. Mrs. Sheridan's Sidney Bidulph, vol. v. p. 74.