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Pope proposed “flame-coloured,” which has been generally followed. Our own conjectures have been dun, damask, dainty, and we incline to prefer the last, as Sir Andrew speaks afterwards of the Clown’s “mellifluous voice;” dainfie, badly written, might easily look like dam’d, The three following passages, we are convinced, never came in their present form from the pen of Shakespeare. Come thick night, And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell, That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
Nor Heaven peep through the blanket of the dark.
At no time could the image in the fourth line have been otherwise than low and ludicrous; and surely no good poet, having mentioned the mantle of night, would repeat the image, under at least a meaner form. We would hazard—
Nor Heaven peer through the blackness of the dark.
Peer or pear is appear, and blackness of dark is like
|brightness of light.
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
A good poet usually has the image present to his mind; and the idea of taking arms against a sea! It reminds one of Dame Partington. A sic/e was our own conjecture, as well as Pope's; others have proposed assay. We should prefer assays to this last. Spread thy close curtain, love-performing night, That runaways' eyes may wink, and Romeo
Leap to these arms, untalked of and unseen.
Various have been the conjectures here: our own is Rumour's. In the Induction to 2 Henry IV., and elsewhere, Rumour answers to the Fame of the classics, who is described in the AEneis, as being on the watch at night to collect intelligence to be blazed abroad by day, and wink plainly intimates that there was some one on the watch to detect the lovers. Juliet then wishes the gloom to be so intense, that Rumour's eyes must wink perforce, and Romeo thus be able to leap to her arms unseen. The play of words on Rumour and Romeo, and the allusion to Virgil, would suit with the turn of the poet's mind at that period.” The punctuation of the folios is of course often erroneous. The following instance, we believe, has not been observed:#– Hang out our banners on the outer walls; The cry is still: They come.—Macb. v. 5. Now, as the banner was hung from the keep, not from the walls, we surely should read:— Hang out our banners. On the outer walls The cry is still: They come. From a close examination of Shakespeare's verse, we will venture to assert, that he never used a short line, except at the beginning or end of a paragraph or complete sentence; and that when such occurs, unless where part of a line has been lost,--it is caused by wrong arrange* In Peele's Edward I. are the two following lines, of which the most accomplished editor, Mr. Dyce, owns he could make no sense:— Saint Ceres' sweets and Bacchus' wine.—Page 92, ed. Dyce. Thank Britain's strife of Scotland's climbing peers.-Ib. p. 104. We would read Sans, wheat, and Th'ambitious. + This observation is not our own; we learned it in conversation. We
should feel inclined to write banner, as printers are sometimes rather liberal of their s's.
ment, and can be easily rectified.* Two of these short
The temple-haunting martlet doth approve,
The actor should, we think, pause at here, and take a survey of the castle, before he proceeds. The figure Aposiopesis occurs in Shakespeare, as in all poets, ancient and modern, whose style is at all dramatic. By its aid, as we have shown in various places of Virgil and Horace, many grammatical difficulties may be removed. The critics seem not to have observed it in— I do profess, That for your Highness’ good I ever laboured,
More than my own, that am, have, and will be . . .
He was a man, take him for all in all . . .
He is about to give a character of his father, when grief
Doth all the noble substance, of a doubt,
He has been all along speaking in an involved, circuitous manner, to conceal his feelings, and he has not finished his sentence when the Ghost appears. We adopt the reading of the Quarto of 1604, reading for eale, evil, as it has (ii. 1) deale for devil. It might * Editors in general seem not to have recollected that our dramatic
verse admits of frequent anapaests. See below, on the Verse of Paradise
however be is/, i. e. e.'i/, from evil, like e'en from even. Of a doubt is like of a truth, etc. Query, out o' doubt 2 The printers frequently made verses short and inharmonious by their abbreviations, and it is really annoying to see how slavishly editors follow them. Thus, for example, we meet it's and 'fis, instead of it is, 's instead of his, to instead of unfo, and the syncopated instead of the full perfect of the verb, as lov’d, enjoy'd, etc.” To conclude. There are various places in Shakespeare where verse has been printed as prose.t. This appears from the ease with which they can be arranged as verse, a thing which cannot be done with true prose. In All's Well, etc. iii. 2, for example, there are two letters both in prose, of one of which no ingenuity could make verse, while the other would be arranged as follows:—
“When thou canst get the ring upon my finger
So again in Romeo and Juliet, iii. 1 —
Good king of cats,
* Thus in Milton's own editions we meet :— -
No editor has retained this orthography; but, had it been Shakespeare,
Will you pluck your sword out of his pilcher by The ears? Make haste, lest mine be about your ears, Ere it be out. Every other place might with the same ease be converted to verse. We may here inform the reader, that in all our metric criticisms, we go on the principle, which to us has the force of an axiom, that no true poet can write inharmonious verses. The very last whom we should suspect of such is Shakespeare, one of whose leading characteristics is sweetness, as we believe Coleridge has somewhere observed,—and whose early verse, as in the Two Gentlemen of Verona and the Midsummer Night's Dream, is actually mellifluous.*
We now return to Milton, and observe that with Lycidas terminated the series of beautiful poetry, of which Horton witnessed the birth. His next verses were written in a foreign country, and in a foreign language.
THE ITALIAN SONNETS.
Milton had been familiar with the works of the great poets of modern Italy, probably from an early age; and, for an ear like his, the melody of Italian verse must have had peculiar charms. During his residence in Florence, he even ventured to essay his powers in the composition of verses in that language, which were probably received with the indulgence due to the poetic efforts of a man of
* All the preceding observations apply with as much force to Beaumont and Fletcher as to Shakespeare. We regret that their able editor, Mr. Dyce, has not more frequently ventured to restore the harmony of their verse, at least to indicate the restoration. In too many places, also, verse remains printed as prose, while the fact is, there is hardly any real prose in the great majority of their Plays.