Les cheveux luy dressent. His haire stares, or stands annend.” Cotgrave's Dict. sub Dresser; and compare Florio's Dict. sub Arricciare.

[ocr errors][merged small]

This expression, which is now so familiar to us from Ariel's song, was certainly an unusual one in the days of Shakespeare, who probably caught it from a line in Lodge's Glaucus and Scilla, 1589,

Footing it featlie on the grassie ground.”

Sig. A 2.

Act i. sc. 2.

“my prime request,
Which I do last pronounce, is, O you wonder!
If you be maid or no ?

No wonder, sir;
But, certainly a maid.

In a note on this passage, in his ed. of Shakespeare, Mr. Collier observes; “Ferdinand has at first supposed Miranda a goddess, and now inquires if she be really a mortal; not a celestial being, but a maiden. “Maid' is used in its general sense. Miranda's answer is to be taken in the same sense as Ferdinand's question.

I differ entirely from Mr. Collier about the meaning of Miranda's answer. She plays on the word maid :“But, certainly a maid," i. e, a virgin.

Act iii. sc. 1.
“But these sweet thoughts do even refresh my labours;
Most busy-less when I do it.”

The first folio has,

“ Most busy lest, when I do it;"

the second folio,

“ Most busy, least when I do it.”

The reading busy-less" is Theobald's.

According to Mr. Collier (Notes and Emendations, &c. p. 11), the controversy about this passage "seems set at rest by the manuscript correction in the folio 1632;" which is,

« «Most busy-blest, when I do it.'

That is to say, he deems himself blest even by heavy toils, when they are made light by the thoughts of Miranda; he was most busy,' but still blest, when so employed. It is right to add that this emendation is, like a few others, upon an erasure, as if something had been written there before: perhaps the page had been blotted.”

Now, I decidedly think—that the Manuscript-corrector's emendation is forced and awkward in the very extreme;—that Mr. Collier is as unsuccessful in defending it, as he was when in his edition of Shakespeare he defended the old misprint, “ Most busy, least;" —and that the conjecture of Theobald, “ busy-less," is far more likely to be the true reading than the Manuscript-corrector's scarcely intelligible alteration, which (as is plain from what is stated about the erasure) was not his first attempt to set the passage right.

Act iv. sc. 1.

Pro. If I have too austerely punish'd you,
Your compensation makes amends; for I
Have given you here a thread of mine own life
Or that for which I live.”

Mr. Collier observes (Notes and Emendations, &c. p. 12); “ The text has been much disputed, and for third' of the old printed copy, the corrector of the folio, 1632, has written thrid (i.e. thread) in the margin. This fact may possibly be decisive of the question.”

Mr. Collier is hardly justified in saying that “ the text has been much disputed.” “ Thread” has been adopted by all the recent editors, except Mr. Collier himself, who strenuously supported what he is now willing to reject on the authority of the Manuscript-corrector.

In case any future editor should still be inclined to make Prospero term Miranda “ a third of his life,” it may be well to remark here, — that in the language of poetry, from the earliest times, a beloved object has always been spoken of, not as the third, but as the half of another's life or soul : (so Meleager, å uloú pev puxas; and Horace, "animæ dimidium meæ").

Act iv. sc. 1.
“ And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,

Leave not a rack behind."

So this famous passage stands in all editions old and new. But I believe that Malone's objection to the reading, “a rack,is unanswerable. “No instance," he observes, “ has yet been produced where rack is used to signify a single small fleeting cloud;" in other words,—though our early writers very frequently make mention of the rack," they never say a rack.” Malone adds, “I incline to think that rack is a mis-spelling for wrack, i.e. wreck;" and I now am thoroughly convinced that such is the case. In authors of the age of Elizabeth and James I have repeatedly met with rack put for wrack ; and in all the early editions of Milton's Paradise Lost which I possess,viz. the first, 1667, the second, 1674, the third, 1678, the fourth, 1688, and the eighth, 1707,-I find,

“Now dreadful deeds
Might have ensued, nor only Paradise
In this commotion, but the starry cope
Of Heaven perhaps, or all the elements
At least had gone to rack [i. e. wrack=wreck],” &c.

B. iv. 990.
“A world devote to universal rack [i. e. wrack=wreck]."

B. xi. 821.

Act iv. sc. 1.

“ Come, hang them on this line.

• “To the old stage-direction, Enter Ariel, loaden with glistering apparel, the manuscript corrector of the folio, 1632, has added the explanatory words, Hang it on the line; but whether we are to understand a line tree (as has been suggested by Mr. Hunter, in his learned Essay on the Tempest, 8vo. 1839), or a mere rope, is not stated.” Collier's Notes and Emendations, &c. p. 13.

With all my respect for Mr. Hunter's learned labours, I must confess that I think him entirely wrong in the matter of the line."

If no other objections could be urged against Mr. Hunter's acceptation of the word line, we surely have a decisive one in the joke of Stephano, “ Now, jerkin, you are like to lose your hair,”—a joke to which it is impossible to attach any meaning, unless we suppose that the line was a hair-line. Mr. Knight observes; “In a woodcut of twelve distinct figures of trades and callings of the time of James I. (see Smith’s • Cries of London,' p. 15), and of which there is a copy in the British Museum, we have the cry ofBuy a hair-line !"" And in Lyly's Midas, a barber's apprentice facetiously says, “ All my mistres' lynes that she dryes her cloathes on, are made only of Mustachio stuffe [i. e. of the cuttings of moustachios]." Sig. G 2, ed. 1592.

[ocr errors]

Cal. The dropsy drown this fool! what do you mean, To doat thus on such luggage ? Let's alone, And do the murder first.”

So the old copies. Mr. Knight follows them, quoting Steevens's preposterous suggestion that “Let's alone' may mean— Let you and I only go to commit the murder, leaving Trinculo, who is so solicitous about the trash of dress, behind us.'”—Mr. Collier prints (with a novel abbreviation) “ Let 't alone.”—Malone alters Let's alone" to Let it alone,”—because, he says, “ Caliban has used the expression before,"—the very reason (as will be evident to any one who carefully compares the two passages) why it should not be repeated here.

Has none of the commentators, then, been led by the words, “ And do the murder first,” to the lection obviously required in what immediately precedes? Yes: Theobald's sagacity did not forsake him here; but his certain emen

« 前へ次へ »