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pearances, while it is also so probable in itself, that the remarkable collection of emendations in Mr Collier's copy of the Second Folio can, apparently, be satisfactorily explained. The volume came into Mr Collier's hands in 1849, and was some time afterwards discovered by him to contain a vast number of alterations of the printed text inserted by the pen, in a handwriting certainly of the seventeenth century, and possibly of not much later date than the volume. They extend over all the thirtysix Plays, and are calculated to amount in all to at least 20,000. Here is, then, a most elaborate revision-an expenditure of time and painstaking which surely could only have been prompted and sustained by a strong feeling in the annotator of admiration for his author, and the most anxious and scrupulous regard for the integrity of his text. Such motives would be
inconsistent with the substitution generally for the old words of anything that might merely strike him as being possibly a preferable reading. The much more probable presumption is that he followed some guide. Such a labour is only to be naturally accounted for by regarding it as that of the possessor of a valued but very inaccurately printed book who had obtained the means of collating it with and correcting it by a trustworthy manuscript. And, when we come to examine the new readings, we find everything in sufficient correspondence with this hypothesis ; some things almost, we may say, demonstrating it. Some of the alterations are of a kind altogether transcending the compass of conjectural emendation, unless it had taken the character of pure invention and fabrication. Such in particular are the entire lines inserted in various passages of which we have not a trace in the printed text. The number, too, of the new readings which cannot but be allowed to be either indisputable, or, at the least, in the highest degree ingenious and plausible, is of itself almost conclusive against our attributing them to nothing better than conjecture. Upon this supposition this unto the original copies as closely as possible; and they have given us back many old readings which had been rejected by preceding editors. There has been some difference of opinion among editors of the modern school in regard to whether the preference should be given in certain cases to the First Folio or to some previous Quarto impression of the Play produced in the lifetime of the author; and Steevens latterly, in opposition to Malone, who had originally been his coadjutor, set up the doctrine that the Second Folio was a safer guide than the First. This heresy, however, has probably now been abandoned by everybody.
But, besides the correction of what are believed to be errors of the Press in the old copies, the text of hakespeare has been subjected to certain modifications in all the modern reprints :
1. The spelling has been reduced to the modern standard. The original spelling is certainly no part of the composition. There is no reason to believe that it is even Shakespeare's own spelling. In all probability it is merely that of the person who set up the types. Spenser may be suspected to have had some peculiar notions upon the subject of orthography; but, apparently, it was not a matter about which Shakespeare troubled himself. In departing from the original editions here, therefore, we lose nothing that is really his.
2. The actual form of the word in certain cases has been modernized. This deviation is not so clearly defensible upon principle, but the change is so slight, and the convenience and advantage so considerable, that it may fairly be held to be justifiable nevertheless on the ground of expediency. The case of most frequent occurrence is that of the word than, which with Shakespeare, as generally with his contemporaries and predecessors, is always then. “Greater then a king” would be intolerable to the modern ear.
Then standing in this position is therefore quietly converted by all the modern editors into our modern than. Another form which was unquestionably part of the regular phraseology and grammar of his day is what is sometimes described as the conjunction of a plural nominative with a singular verb, but is really only a peculiar mode of inflecting the verb, by which the plural is left undistinguished from the singular. Shakespeare and his contemporaries, although they more usually said, as we do, “ words sometimes give offence,” held themselves entitled to say also, if they chose, “words sometimes gives offence." But here again so much offence would be given by the antiquated phraseology to the modern ear, accustomed to such an apparent violation of concord only from the most illiterate lips, that the detrimental s has been always suppressed in the modern editions, except only in a few instances in which it happens to occur as an indispensable element of the rhyme-as when Macbeth, in his soliloquy before going in to murder the sleeping King (ii. 1) says, -
" Whiles I threat he lives : Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives ;” or, as when Romeo says to Friar Lawrence (ii. 3),
“ Both our remedies Within thy help and holy physic lies.” A few contractions also, such as upon't, on's head, etc., which have now become too vulgarized for composition of any elevation, are usually neglected in constructing the modern text, and without any appreciable injury to its integrity.
3. In some few cases the editors have gone the length of changing even the word which Shakespeare may very possibly have written, or which may probably have stood in the manuscript put into the hands of the original printers, when it has been held to be palpably or incontrovertibly wrong. In Julius Cæsar, for instance (ii. 1), they have upon this principle changed “the first of March” into “the ides of March" (149), and afterwards "fifteen days” into "fourteen days" (154). It is evident, however, that alterations of this kind ought to be very cautiously made.
VI. THE MECHANISM OF ENGLISH VERSE, AND THE
PROSODY OF THE PLAYS OF SHAKESPEARE.
The mechanism of verse is a thing altogether distinct from the music of verse. The one is matter of rule, the other of taste and feeling. No rules can be given for the production of music, or of the musical, any more than for the production of poetry, or the poetical.
The law of the mechanical construction of verse is common to verse of every degree of musical quality,--to the roughest or harshest (provided it be verse at all), as well as to the smoothest and sweetest. Music is not an absolute necessity of verse. There are cases in which it is not even an excellence or desirable ingredient. Verse is sometimes the more effective for being unmusical. The mechanical law or form is universally indispensable. It is that which constitutes the verse.
be regarded as the substance; musical character, as the accident or ornament.
In every language the principle of the law of verse undoubtedly lies deep in the nature of the language. In all modern European languages, at least, it is dependent upon the system of accentuation established in the language, and would probably be found to be modified in each case according to the peculiarities of the accentual system. In so far as regards these languages, verse may be defined to consist in a certain arrangement of accented and unaccented syllables.
The Plays of Shakespeare are all, with the exception only of occasional couplets, in unrhymed or what is called Blank verse.
This form of verse was first exemplified in