Графични страници
PDF файл

in the same speech are “chasing with her shores,” and “ He had a Feaher when he was in Spaine."

54. Arrive the point proposed.--Arrive without the now indispensable at or in is found also in the Third Part of King Henry VI. (v. 3) :

" Those powers that the queen

Hath raised in Gallia have arrived our coast." And Milton has the same construction (P. L. ii. 409) :

"Ere he arrive

The happy isle.” 54. I, as Æneas, etc.- This commencement of the sentence, although necessitating the not strictly grammatical repetition of the first personal pronoun, is in fine rhetorical accordance with the character of the speaker, and vividly expresses his eagerness to give prominence to his own part in the adventure. Even the repetition (of which, by the by, we have another instance in this same speech) assists the effect. At the same time, it may just be noted that the I here is not printed differently in the original edition from the adverb of affirmation in “ Ay, and that tongue of his,” a few lines lower down. Nor are the two words anywhere distinguished. It may be doubted whether Macbeth's great exclamation (ii. 2) should not be printed (as it is by Steevens) “Wake Duncan with thy knocking: Ay, would thou could'st!” (instead of “I would,” as commonly given).

54. The old Anchises, etc.-- This is a line of six feet; but it is quite different in its musical character from what is called an Alexandrine, such as rounds off the Spenserian stanza, and also frequently makes the second line in a rhymed couplet or the third in a triplet. It might perhaps be going too far to say that a proper Alexandrine is inadmissible in blank verse. There would seem to be nothing in the principle of blank verse opposed to the occasional employment of the Alexandrine; but the

custom of our modern poetry excludes such a variation even from dramatic blank verse; and unquestionably by far the greater number of the lines in Shakespeare which have been assumed by some of his editors to be Alexandrines are only instances of the ordinary heroic line with the very common peculiarity of certain superfluous short syllables. That is all that we have here,-the ordinary heroic line overflowing its bounds, which, besides that great excitement will excuse such irregularities, or even demand them, admirably pictures the emotion of Cassius, as it were acting his feat over again as he relates it, with the shore the two were making for seeming, in their increasing efforts, to retire before them,—and panting with his remembered toil.

54. His coward lips did from their colour fly:—There can, I think, be no question that Warburton is right in holding that we have here a pointed allusion to a soldier flying from his colours. The lips would never otherwise be made to fly from their colour, instead of their colour from them. The figure is quite in Shakespeare's manner and spirit. But we may demur to calling it, with Warburton, merely“ a poor quibble." It is a forcible expression of scorn and contempt. Such passions are, by their nature, not always lofty and decorous, but rather creative and reckless, and more given to the pungent than the elegant.

54. Did lose his lustre.--There is no personification here. His was formerly neuter as well as masculine, or the genitive of It as well as of He; and his lustre, meaning the lustre of the eye, is the same form of expression that we have in the texts :-“ The fruit-tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself(Gen. i. 11); It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel" (Gen. iii. 15); “If the salt have lost his savour (Matt. v. 13, and Luke xiv. 34); “ If the salt have lost his saltness" (Mark ix. 50); “When they were past the first

[ocr errors]


and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that
leadeth unto the city, which opened to them of his own
accord” (Acts xii. 10); “His throne was like the fiery
flame, and his wheels as burning fire" (Dan, vii.9); and
others. The word Its does not occur in the authorized
translation of the Bible; its place is always supplied
either by His or by Thereof. So again, in the present
Play, in 523, we have “That every nice offence should
bear his comment;” and in Antony and Cleopatra, v. 1,
“The heart where mine his thoughts did kindle.” One
of the most curious and decisive examples of the neuter
his occurs in Coriolanus, i. 1:-

it [the belly] tauntingly replied
To the discontented members, the mutinous parts

That envied his receipt.” Its, however, is found in Shakespeare. There is one instance in Measure for Measure, i. 2, where Lucio's remark about coming to a composition with the King of Hungary draws the reply, “Heaven grant us its peace, but not the King of Hungary's." The its here, it may be observed, has the emphasis. It is printed without the apostrophe both in the First and in the Second Folio. But the most remarkable of the Plays in regard to this particular is probably The Winter's Tale. Here, in i. 2, we have so many as three instances in a single speech of Leontes :

“How sometimes Nature will betray it's folly?
It's tendernesse. and make it selfe a Pastime
To harder bosomes ? Looking on the Lynes
Of my Boyes face, me thoughts I did requoyle
Twentie three yeeres, and saw my selfe vnbreech’d,
In my greene Velvet Coat; my Dagger muzzeld,
Least it should bite it's Master, and so prove

(As Ornaments oft do's) too dangerous.” So stands the passage in the First Folio. Nor does the new pronoun here appear to be a peculiarity of expression

characteristic of the excited Sicilian king; a little while after in the same scene we have the same form from the mouth of Camillo :

“Be plainer with me, let me know my Trespas

By it's owne visage.” And again, in iii. 3, we have Antigonus, when about to lay down the child in Bohemia, observing that he believes it to be the wish of Apollo that

“it should heere be laide
(Either for life, or death) vpon the earth

Of it's right Father.” Nor is this all. There are two other passages of the same Play in which the modern editors also give us its; but in these the original text has it. The first is in ii. 3, where Leontes, in directing Antigonus to carry away the “ female bastard” to some foreign land, enjoins him that he there leave it

“(Without more mercy) to it owne protection.” The other is in iii. 2, where Hermione's words stand in both the First and Second Folio,

“The innocent milke in it most innocent mouth." It is a mistake to assume, as the modern editors do, that it in these instances is a misprint for its : Dr Guest (Phil. Pro. i. 280) has observed that in the dialects of the North-Western Counties formerly it was sometimes used for its; and that, accordingly, we have not only in Shakespeare's King John, ii. 1, “Goe to yt grandame, child . . . . and it grandame will give yt a plumb," but in Ben Jonson's Silent Woman, ii. 3, "It knighthood and it friends.” So in Lear, i. 4, we have in a speech of the Fool, “For you know, Nunckle, the Hedge-Sparrow fed the Cuckoo so long, that it's had it head bit off by it young” (that is, that it has had its head,—not that it had its head, as the modern editors give the passage,




the Second Folio, in which it stands, “ that it had its head bit off by it young"). This use of it is still familiar in the popular speech of the West Riding of Yorkshire, and even in the English of some parts of Ireland. So, long before its was generally received, we have it self commonly printed in two words, evidently under the impression that it was a possessive, of the same syntactical force with the pronouns in my self, your self, her self. And even now we do not write itsself. Formerly, too, according to Dr Guest, they often said even “The King wife," etc., for “ The King's wife.” So he holds that in such modern phrases as "The idea of a thing being abstracted,” or “of it being abstracted,” thing and it are genitives, for thing's and its.

We have also either it or its in another passage of Lear, where Albany, in iv. 2, speaks of “that nature which condemns its origin.” The passage is not in the Folios; but, if we may trust to Jennens, the First Quarto has ith, the Second it, for the its of the modern text. Both those Quartos are of 1608; and there is also a third of the same year, but the reading in that is not noted by the commentators.

I am indebted to Dr Trench, the Dean of Westminster, for calling my attention to one passage in our English Bible, Levit. xxv. 5, in which, although the modern reprints give us " that which groweth of its own accord,” the reading in the original edition is “of it own accord.” In Luther's German version the phrase here is the same that is employed in Acts xii. 10, quoted above, where we have “ of his own accord:” von ihm selber in the one case, von ihr selbst in the other.

Dr Guest asserts that its was used generally by the dramatists of the age to which the authorized version of the Bible belongs, and also by many of their contemporaries. Dr Trench, in his English, Past and Present, doubts whether Milton has once admitted it into Paradise

« ПредишнаНапред »