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• Thirty-three years have I been gone in travail
Notes and Emendations, &c. p. 64.
I cannot think, with Mr. Collier, that, when the Manuscript-corrector alters “till” to “at,” he "makes the slightest possible change.” The utter improbability that “at" should have been mistaken for 6 till" either by scribe or compositor, strongly warrants the belief that the latter word was really the poet's: and I must be allowed to repeat here what I formerly advanced in my Remarks on Collier's and Knight's eds. of Shakespeare, viz.;—“I have little doubt that the genuine text is,—
band till this present hour My heavy burden ne'er delivered.'
Our early printers sometimes mistook 'ne’er' (written nere) for are." p. 30.
With respect to the first line of the passage, as it is given above with the imprimatur of the Manuscript-corrector,
“Thirty-three years have I been gone in travail,"
Mr. Collier can hardly mean that “ Thirty-three” is right, because the Manuscript-corrector has allowed that number to stand (see Theobald's note, or Mr. Collier's own note, ad l.); and surely we may more than suspect that “ been" was arbitrarily substituted for “but” by the editor or printer of the second folio.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.
Act i. sc. 1. The quarto and the folio have “ Enter Leonato, gouernour of Messina, Innogen his wife,” &c. (and again at the commencement of Act ii. they make “his wife" enter with Leonato.) “It is therefore clear,” says Mr. Collier ad l., “ that the mother of Hero made her appearance before the audience, although she says nothing throughout the comedy;" and the same gentleman, in his Notes and Emendations, &c., remarks, that “the manuscript-corrector of the folio, 1632, has expunged the words Innogen, his wife, as if the practice had not then been for her to appear before the audience in this or in any other portion of the comedy."
The great probability is, that she never appeared before any audience in any part of the play, and that Theobald was right when he conjectured that “the poet had in his first plan designed such a character, which, on a survey of it, he found would be superfluous, and therefore he left it out.” One thing I hold for certain, viz. that, if she ever did figure among the dramatis personæ, it was not as a mere dummy: there are scenes in which the mother of Hero must have spoken ;-she could not have stood on the stage without a word to say about the disgrace of her daughter, &c.
Act i. sc. 1. “ Leon. How many gentlemen have you lost in this action ? Mess. But few of any sort, and none of name.”
According to Monck Mason, “of any sort” means — of any kind whatsoever; an interpretation which, though manifestly wrong, has found approvers. The reply of the Messenger is equivalent to—But few gentlemen of any rank, and none of celebrity. So presently he says to Beatrice, “I know none of that name, lady; there was none such in the army of any sort.” So, too, in MidsummerNight's Dream, act iii. sc. 2;
“none of noble sort Would so offend a virgin:"" and in Jonson's Every Man in his Humour,– Works, i. 24, ed. Gifford; “A gentleman of your sort, parts," &c. : and in A Warning for Faire Women, 1599;
“The Queene our mistris . Allowes this bounty to all commers, much more To gentlemen of your sort.”
Sig. F 2.
Act i. sc. 1. : “or do you play the flouting Jack, to tell us Cupid is a good hare-finder, and Vulcan a rare carpenter?”
Mr. Knight prints "from two correspondents” an explanation of this passage,—which explanation he has no doubt is the right one. I am inclined to think so too. But it was given long ago by Tollet.
Act i. sc. 1. “ Bene Like the old tale, my lord : it is not so, nor 'twas not so; but indeed God forbid it should be so."
Blakeway (see the Varior. Shakespeare) has preserved, from the relation of his “great aunt," a very curious story, which may really be a modernised version of the old tale" here alluded to: but he was not aware that one of the circumstances in the good lady's narrative is borrowed from Spenser's Faerie Queene ;
“ When she arrived at the house, and knocked at the door, no one answered. At length she opened it, and went in. Over the portal of the hall was written, Be bold, be bold, but not too bold: she advanced. Over the staircase, the same inscription : she went up. Over the entrance of a gallery, the same : she proceeded. Over the door of a chamber, Be bold, be bold, but not too bold, lest that your heart's-blood should run cold,” &c. Blakeway's Tale.
« And, as she lookt about, she did behold
The Faerie Queene, B. iii. C. xi. st. 54.
Act i. sc. 1. “ D. Pedro. Nay, if Cupid have not spent all his quiver in Venice, thou wilt quake for this shortly."
Long before this comedy was produced, various writers had characterised Venice as the place where Cupid “reigns and revels.” So Greene; “Hearing that of all the citties in Europe, Venice hath most semblance of Venus vanities .... Because therefore this great city of Venice is holden Loues Paradice,” &c. Neuer too late, sig. Q 2, ed. 1611. - At a somewhat later period, Coryat's Crudities made the Venetian courtesans well known in England.
“Bene. I have almost matter enough in me for such an embassage ; and so I commit you
Claud. To the tuition of God: From my house (if I had it)—”
There is the same sort of joke in the translation of the Menæchmi, 1595, by W. W. [William Warner ?]; “ Men. What, mine owne Peniculus ? Pen. Yours (ifaith), bodie and goods, if I had any."
Act i. sc. 3. “ What is he for a fool that betroths himself to unquietness ???
I have elsewhere observed (Remarks on Collier's and Knight's editions of Shakespeare, p. 32) that “ What is he for a fool” is equivalent to—What manner of fool is he,What fool is he?–So in Middleton's A Mad World, my Masters; “What is she for a fool would marry thee, a madman ?” Works, ii. 421, ed. Dyce. And compare Warner's Syrinx, &c.; “ And what art thou for a man that thou shouldest be fastidious of the acquaintance of men ?”! Sig. Q 4, ed. 1597.