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“The first difficulty has arisen out of the epithet 'armgaunt,' and, without noticing other proposed emendations, we may state that Sir Thomas Hanmer's arm-girť is precisely that of the old corrector, who also makes a very important change in the last hemistich, which, in the folios, stands,
Was beastly dumbe by him.'
The commentators have properly taken 'dumbe' as a misprint for dumb’d, and have referred to ‘Pericles,' where dumbs is used as a verb. It seems that beastly' was not Shakespeare's word, which we can well suppose: in 'Macbeth' we have seen “boast misprinted beast, and in Henry V. (Chorus to Act iv.) we meet with the line,
Steed threatens steed in high and boastful neighs.
In the passage before us, Alexas says that the 'arm-girt steed' neighed so 'high' that he could not address Antony: in what way, then, does the corrector of the folio, 1632, give the whole passage ?
:: :.. So he nodded .
One slight objection to this change is that boastfully must be read as a dissyllable.” Collier's Notes and Emendations, &c. p. 467.
“ Arm-gaunt” has been variously explained, -leanshouldered, as thin as one's arm, &c.: but Warburton's interpretation, worn lean and thin by much service in war, is the only one which would suit the passage; for, as Nares well observes (Gloss. sub v.), “all the rest of the senses are reproachful, and are therefore inconsistent with the speech which is made to display the gallantry of a lover to his mistress.” Still, the interpretation of Warburton is at best extremely forced : and I make not the slightest doubt that the Manuscript-corrector and Sir Thomas Hanmer were right in considering “arm-gaunt” a misprint for “arm-girt.”
But why did the Manuscript-corrector alter “beastly" to “boastfully” (which I should have thought nobody could “ read as a dissyllable,” had not Mr. Collier declared that it “must be read" as such)?. Merely because he happened not to perceive the meaning which Shakespeare evidently intended " beastly" to convey, viz. in the manner of a beast, -i. e. by inarticulate sounds, which rendered vain all attempts at speaking on the part of Alexas. (The adverb “beastly" occurs in The Taming of the Shrew, act iv. sc. 2,
“ Fie on her! see, how beastly she doth court him!”
and in Cymbeline, act v. sc. 3,
“and will give you that Like beasts, which you shun beastly.")
Act ii. sc. 7.
“ Strike the vessels, ho ! Here is to Cæsar.”
“Strike” (which the commentators had strangely misunderstood) was first rightly explained by Weber, who
shewed, from a passage in Fletcher's Monsieur Thomas, that it meant tap. Compare also Love's Pilgrimage, act ii. sc. 4 (by the same poet); “ Strike me the oldest sack.”
Act iii. sc. 4.
" When the best hint was given him, he not took't,
Or did it from his teeth.”
Thirlby's emendation (first inserted in the text by Theobald).
“ The folio, 1623, has ‘he not look’d,' and the folio, 1632, 'he had look’d.' There appears no sufficient ground for doing more than amend the frequent error of not for • but;' it avoids an awkwardness when Antony complains of Cæsar, that,
• When the best hint was given him, he but look'd,
Or did it from his teeth.'
Such is the emendation in the folio, 1632, the meaning being, that Cæsar only look'd when the best hint was given him, or merely applauded Antony from his teeth, and not from his heart.” Collier's Notes and Emendations, · &c. p. 472.
The reading of the Manuscript-corrector has not only great obscurity of expression (Mr. Collier's explanation that “he but look’d” means “he only look’d,” being rather an unsatisfactory one), but is also unsuited to what immediately follows,
“he but look’d, Or did it from his teeth.”
I have little doubt that Thirlby's much simpler emendation, “ took't” for “ look’d” (which alters only a single letter,—the first folio having " look’t") restores the genuine reading
Act ii. sc. 2.
“and this will witness outwardly,
It may not be useless to observe that “conscience" is used here for consciousness. (“ As strongly as his inward consciousness.")
Act iii. sc. 3.
“O, this life
“ The old copies give the third line,
· Richer than doing nothing for a babe,'
and Hanmer substituted 'bribe,' though bribes are seldom given for doing nothing, while Warburton has bauble, and Malone adhered to babe. All three are unquestionably wrong: the second line supposes a courtier to dance attendance, and only to obtain a check,' or reproof, for his pains; and the third line follows up the same notion that he does 'nothing, yet is rewarded with a blow : Shakespeare repeatedly uses bob (the word in manuscript