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A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM.
Act i. sc. 2. “I could play Ercles rarely, or a part to tear a cat in, to make all split.”
The expression “ make all split,” and the similar one, “let all split,” are often met with in early writers. It has not, I believe, been remarked that they are properly nautical phrases: “He set downe this period with such a sigh, that, as the Marriners say, a man would haue thought al would have split againe.” Greene's Neuer too late, sig. G 3, ed. 1611.
Act ii. sc. 1.
In their gold coats spots you see,” &c.
The Manuscript-corrector of the folio, 1632, alters “tall” to “all,” and “coats” to “cups.” See Notes and Emendations, &c. p. 100.
The second of these alterations may be right. But the first is more than questionable ; and when Mr. Collier defended it by observing that “ cowslips are never tall,'” he ought to have considered, that, however diminutive they may appear to himself, as he gathers them in those Sylvan scenes to which (unfortunately for his friends and acquaintances) he has now withdrawn, they might nevertheless seem“ tall” to Titania and her elves in the Athenian forest; just as the tulip was “ lofty" to certain other fairies, who held their revels in Kensington Gardens, before nature (or rather art) had produced people of fashion ; .
“ Beneath a lofty tulip's ample shade
In a note on the present passage of Shakespeare, the following stanza from Drayton's Nymphidia is not inaptly cited by Johnson ;
“And for the Queen a fitting bower,
On Hipcut-hill that groweth;
The tallest there that groweth.”
Act iv. sc. 1.
For meeting her of late, behind the wood,
So Malone, Mr. Knight, and Mr. Collier, read with the folio and Roberts's quarto. The other quarto has “ favours ;" which (though Mr. Collier says “savours' seems preferable") I think decidedly right. Titania was seeking flowers for Bottom to wear as favours : compare Greene; “These [fair women] with syren-like allurement so entised these quaint squires, that they bestowed all their flowers vpon them for fauours.” Quip for an Vostart Courtier, sig. B 2, ed. 1620.
* Tickell's Kensington Gardens.
THE MERCHANT OF VENICE.
Act ii. sc. 5.
“ Fast bind, fast find ;
A proverb never stale in thrifty mind.”
“ The proverb with which the speech ends is given [by the Manuscript-corrector of the folio, 1632] differently both from quartos and folios; for instead of Fast bind, fast find,' we have 'Safe bind, Safe find."" Collier's Notes and Emendations, &c. p. 115.
The Manuscript-corrector seems to have made the change " for variation's sake."--Compare Cotgrave's Dict. sub Bon. “Bon guet chasse malaventure: Pro. Good watch preuents misfortune; fast bind, fast find, say we.”
Act ii. sc. 9.
“Enter a Messenger. · Mess. Where is my lady?
Por. Here: what would my lord ?”
Mr. Collier, in his ed. of Shakespeare, having observed, “ It is clear that he [the Messenger] was not a mere servant, not only from the language put into his mouth, but because, when he asks, Where is my lady?' Portia replies, 'Here; what would my lord ?' The Messenger was a person of rank attending on Portia,”—I maintained that the reply of Portia was nothing more than a sportive rejoinder to the abrupt exclamation of the Messenger, and I cited similar passages from Shakespeare's First Part of Henry IV. act ii. sc. 4, and from his Richard II. act v. sc. 5 (Remarks on Collier's and Knight's editions of Shakespeare, p. 55). I have since found the same sort of pleasantry in another dramatist;
“Enter Peter with a candle.
“Men,” says Greene, “weare not jems onely to please the sight, but to be defensiues by their secret operations against perils.” Farewell to Follie, sig. B 2, ed. 1617; and Steevens's note has made it plain that Shylock valued his turquoise, not only as being the gift of Leah, but on account of the imaginary virtues ascribed to the stone. The following lines of Donne may be added to Steevens's illustrations of the passage;
“As a compassionate Turcoyse, which doth tell,