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He was not of an age, but for all time.
Natura il fece e poi ruppe la stampa.
The aim and intention of this glossary is a concentrated survey of whatever, being scattered in several voluminous and costly works, seemed yet necessary to the illustration of the immortal poet. Its contents therefore are traditional learning and own studies. The former belongs to the crowd of commentators, whose endeavours, although not seldom wearisome, absurd and rather obscuring by pedantic encumbrance, than clearing by plain good sense, claimed nevertheless attention, should it even be only for allowing a better success, or for presenting a lively dramatic picture, as it were, of motley scholars caroling and capering on the sunny top and at the flowery foot of this lofty mountain. Here then we meet both with critics, philologers and antiquaries, whose frowardness indeed makes not superfluous the warning repeated by Douce, 'to alter the text of the poet as seldom, as possible, by conjectural emendation.' The actual state of this same text, however, seems still to crave, or to justify some transgression of this precept. For, in truth, its history, as well as its result, is a lamentable one (owing to the great modesty of the unparallel'd poet and man, and to the saucy ignorance of many an aukward uncalled for mountebank) from the old stolen and surreptitious copies maimed and deformed by the frauds and stealths of injurious impostors,' Heminge and Condel not excepted, down to the forgeries of one Ireland and the lately published Trundell-Hamlet of 1603, suited, as it seems, by a hand unknown, to the want of some theatre, or other. Undoubtedly even the most enthusiastic admirer of Shakspeare must confess after all, that a triumphal song of criticism on account of his plays might yet be a little too forward and preposterous, as long as a misproud indiscreet zeal, (in spite of whatever may crave time, tradition *), appeal to a style well weighed and disposed in periods, probability of a double handling of one and the same subject by our poet, traces of later alterations, wrongs and maims, caused by stage-players, stage-managers, or hired poetasters, with other inward tokens evident enough for those, who will and can see,) don't hesitate to expose and reject many plays, whose adoption is a very benefit for the deeper understanding of the uncontestedly genuine ones; as long as blunders by old spelling's mistake,, or mishearing of thoughtless transcribers, or untimely corrections and conjectures, as well as confusion of prose and verses, acts, scenes and persons, are judged to present the true and genuine text of Shakspeare; as long lastly, as 'the poems of Venus and Adonis, and of Tarquin and Lucrece appear like a couple of icehouses, as hard, as glittering, and as cold,' and 'the subject of the sonnets seems to be somewhat equivocal.' So then, although we can't but applaud Dr. Lewis Tieck, who just now is preparing a new collection of those plays, called doubtful and rejected as spurious, which are nevertheless of great interest, in as much as they mark the poet's apprenticeship; although it were to be wished, that likewise the authentical and genuine plays might have experienced the fate of the spurious ones, (viz, to have been by gentlemanlike neglect more preserved from fastidious criticism, like that of Johnson taxed by Hazlitt): the result, however, will always be, that the hope of getting easily a thoroughly clean and authentical text of the poct is rather too sanguine, unless Fortune please to detect a new Alexander's narthex. Meanwhile then it will avail, to note, judge and choose occasionally with unprepossessed discretion and modesty, whatever may alleviate at least past hope passages, even on risk to see misconstrued and wryed into peevish pedantry, what originally and in itself was but fondness to hear distinctly the unaltered charming melodies of this 'sweet swan of Avon.'
With respect to the antiquarian elucidations of our author, unquestionably much has been performed by Douce, Drake, Nares and others, though not enough, we think, chiefly in what depends on a closer inquiry into the single moments of the poet's life, and his soft and gentle allusions to the dramatic and other literature
*) With this we hint chiefly at Gerard Langbaine's Account of the engl. dram. poets etc. (Oxf. 1691. S. 455. ss.
of his own time a province, where again Dr. Tieck, the german poet, devoutly and with due love, feeling and inspiration imbued and immersed in the inmost centre of this genius and his time, will yet earn the thanks of the literary world by his long promised work. For our own parts, though not absolutely unbooked, or unversed in this range, yet not pretending to enter those lists, we have unscrupulously and conformly to our above mentioned purpose made use of what Nares likewise had gathered from the commentators of Shakspeare and his contemporary authors, although we did partly abridge it duly, partly dissent sometime. This previous and due mention of a worthy scholar, made once for all in this place, will no doubt remove every suspicion of an intentional disparagement of his true deservings, or of a surreptitious employment of his property. For, the own philological studies and observations of the author will show in the same time, that he was at least no mere thoughtless transcriber, or compiler. He foresees, indeed, that chiefly his etymological and analogical combinations and endeavours will not be all-hailed by those who, out of a fashionable, unjust and unallowable contempt of etymology, as a too fallacious science, abhor every parallel, that is not of a cheap and striking evidence, as pater and father, and the like. And yet we think, that the bold structure and frame of languages, the oscillatory, loose and changeable nature, particularly of mongrel-tongues as well, as the analogy and the uncontestable laws of changing letters, the erroneous and perverse association and concatenation of ideas, till to the utmost undiscernibleness, whence originated not seldom fables and superstitious conceits, should perplex not a little those antagonists of etymological inquiries, and defend sufficiently what perhaps might amaze at first sight. Now suchlike too fearful, overdelicate and mincing minds, that are perhaps afraid to see the poet's light winged and ethereal nature in this way overwhelmed, or the coloured powder of his wings wiped away, unless they will let manum de tabula, meanwhile may tranquillize themselves by considering, how useful notwithstanding have been occasionally, even to our poet, the endeavours of Horne Tooke, Todd and others; how quite a different thing it is in general, to learn by rote in a mechanical and empirical manner the significations of words, or to know the mode, law and temper of their shape, to conceive their connexion and affinity as well, as their varieties, and how much more preferable and availing is the latter kind of knowledge; how little after all they themselves understand the theme and task of philology, whose pith and moment is to evince the identity of all languages. Why then should we not make use of this method even in Skakspeare? The prepossession against him and his language, as a wild wood-note, or as rough accents of a drunken savage, has happily vanished in our time. A deeper valuation of his age so rich and fertile in various exertions, performances and accomplishments of life and mind, that it may be called the verge and confine of a new one; a just rating of him, who characterizes so inimitably the true poet, saying 'The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling, Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven, And as imagination bodies forth The forms of things unknown, the poet's penn Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothings A local habitation and a name, has now proved and will prove still further, that he was, what is pronounced in the mottos of this glossary. In truth, Shakspeare belongs so eminently to the productive period of english poetry, that he is its representative, in the like manner as, on the other hand, Ben Jonson, his contemporary, is top and standard of the critical bent of the same; that Irony, that deep counterfeit selfderision and frenzy of human mind, straggling and swerving from the harmony of God and the universe with a selfconscience willingly concealed of human dignity and highness; that pert unsettling of the world, Humour, ground and source of all comical exertions, so exclusively proper to Englishmen, is yet again so peculiarly framed and tempered in Shakspeare, that scarcely but in Aristophanes he might find his congenial mind. His language is as far distant from our time and language, as strange and particular, as different in the different periods of his improvement, as it is nearer to its origin, more numerous, fresh and creative, more youthful, bold and energetic, more pregnant, pliable and made subservient by a mighty spirit to the most tender and the most tempestuous melodies of the soul. It could not therefore be our end and inten