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Permitted by our dastard nobles, who
* The reading of all the copies is “No other quarrel else;" but it is evident that other is merely the author's first word, which he must be supposed to have intended to strike out, if he did not actually do so, when he resolved to substitute else. The prosody and the sense agree in admonishing us that both words cannot stand. So in Antony and Cleopatra, iv. 10, in the line “ To the young Roman boy she hath sold me, and I fall;" young is evidently only the word first intended to be used, and never could be meant to be retained after the expression Roman boy was adopted. Another case of the same kind is unquestionably that of the word old in the line (As You Like It, iv. 3), —
Under an (old) oak, whose boughs were mossed with age.
The city posts by this hath entered, and
Though in this city he
These instances are abundantly sufficient to prove the prevalence in the Play of the peculiarity under consideration, and also its recognition, whether consciously and deliberately or otherwise does not matter, by the editors. But further, we have also some instances in which the editors most attached to the original printed text have ventured to go the length of rearranging the verse upon this principle where it stands otherwise in the First Folio. Such are the following:
Commit the war of white and damask in
Their nicely gauded cheeks. — ii. I.
A kinder value of the people than
He hath hereto prized them at. — ii. 2. The Folio gives this as prose.
To allay my rages and revenges with
Your colder reasons. — v. 3. The Folio gives from “My rages ” inclusive as a line.
After this it is surely very strange to find in our modern editions such manifest and gross misconceptions of the versification as the following arrangements exhibit:My gentle Marcius, worthy Caius, And — By deed-achieving honour duly named. — ii. 1. I have seen the dumb men throng to see him, And — The blind to hear him speak. - ii. 1. Have made them mutes, silenced their pleaders, And — Dispropertied their freedoms. — ii. 1. Having determined of the Volsces, And – To send for Titus Lartius. - ii. 2. To gratify his noble service, that hath Thus — Stood for his country. — ii. 2. That valour is the chiefest virtue, And — Most dignifies the haver. - ii. 2. Pray you, go fit you to the custom; And — Take to you, as your predecessors have. — ii. 2. I have seen and heard of; for your voices (voice. - 11.3. Have — Done many things, some less, some more; your Endue you with the people's voice: Remains - That, in the official marks invested, You — Anon do meet the senate. — ii. 3. Would think upon you for your voices, And — Translate his malice towards you into love. — ii. 3. The apprehension of his present portance, Which — Most gibingly, ungravely, he did fashion. - ii. 3. For the mutable, rank-scented many, Let them — Regard me as I do not flatter, And — Therein behold themselves. — iii. 1. That would depopulate the city, And - Be every man himself. — iii. 1.
In all these instances the words which I have separated from those that followed them by a dash belong to the preceding line; and, nearly every time that the first of the two lines is thus put out of joint, the rhythm of both is ruined.
The modern editor who has shown the most disposition to tamper with the old text in the matter of the versification is Steevens. The metrical arrangement of the First Folio is undoubtedly wrong in thousands of instances, and it is very evident that the conception which the persons by whom the printing was superintended had of verse was extremely imperfect and confused. They would be just as likely to go wrong as right whenever any intricacy or indistinctness in the manuscript threw them upon their own resources of knowledge and critical sagacity. But Steevens set about the work of correction on false principles. Nothing else would satisfy him than to reduce the prosody of the natural dramatic blank verse of Shakespeare, the characteristic product of the sixteenth century, to the standard of the trim rhyming couplets into which Pope shaped his polished epigrams in the eighteenth. It is a mistake, however, to speak of Steevens as having no ear for verse. His ear was a practised and correct enough one, only that it had been trained in a narrow school. Malone, on the other hand, had no notion whatever of verse beyond what he could obtain by counting the syllables on his fingers. Everything else but the mere number of the syllables went with him for nothing. This is demonstrated by all that he has written on the subject. And, curiously enough, Mr. James Boswell, the associate of his labors, appears to have been endowed with nearly an equal share of the same singular insensibility.
VII. SHAKESPEARE'S JULIUS CÆSAR.
SHAKESPEARE's Julius Cæsar was first printed, as far as is known, in the First Folio collection of his Plays, published in 1623 ; it stands there between Timon of Athens and Macbeth, filling, in the division of the volume which begins with Coriolanus and extends to the end, being that occupied with the Tragedies, — which is preceded by those containing the Comedies and the Histories, — the doublecolumned pages from 109 to 130 inclusive.* Here, at the beginning and over each page, it is entitled “ The Tragedie of Julius Cæsar;” but in the Catalogue at the beginning of the volume it is entered as “ The Life and Death of Julius Cæsar;” other entries in the list being, among the Histories, “The Life and Death of King John," " The Life and Death of Richard the Third,” 66 The Life of King Henry the Eighth,” and, among the Tragedies, “The Tragedy of Coriolanus,” 66 The Tragedy of Macbeth," “ The Tragedy of Hamlet,” “ King Lear," 6 Othello, the Moore of Venice.” In the Second Folio (1632), where this series of pages includes Troilus and Cressida, “ The Tragedy of Julius Cæsar," as it is entered both in the running title and in the Catalogue, extends from page 129 to 150 inclusive. In both editions the Play is divided into Acts, but not into Scenes; although the First Act is headed in both “ Actus Primus. Scena Prima.” There is no list in either edition of the Dramatis Persone, as there is with several others of the Plays.
Malone, in his 66 Attempt to ascertain the Order in which the Plays of Shakespeare were written,"
* There is a break in the pagination from 101 to 108 inclusive.