Sidor som bilder

may credit the old copies, he has, by miftaking places, left his fcenery inextricable. The reafon of all this confufion feems to be, that he took his ftory from a novel, which he fometimes followed, and fometimes forfook, fometimes remembered, and fometimes forgot.

That this play is rightly attributed to Shakspeare, I have little doubt. If it be taken from him, to whom fhall it be given? This queftion may be asked of all the difputed plays, except Titus Andronicus; and it will be found more credible, that Shakspeare might fometimes fink below his highest flights, than that any other fhould rife up to his loweft. JOHNSON.

Johnfon's general remarks on this play are juft, except that part in which he arraigns the conduct of the poet, for making Proteus fay, that he had only feen the pi&ure of Silvia, when it appears that he had had a perfonal interview with her. This, however, is not a blunder of Shakspeare's, but a mistake of Johnson's, who confiders the paffage alluded to in a more literal fenfe than the author intended it. Sir Proteus, it is true, had faen Silvia for a few moments; but though he could form from thence fome idea of her perfon, he was ftill unacquainted with her temper, manners, and the qualities of her mind. He therefore confiders himfelf as having feen her picture only. The thought is juft, and elegantly expreffed. So, in The Scornful Lady, the elder Lovelefs fays to


I was mad once when I loved pictures;

"For what are fhapes and colours elfe, but pictures?"


Mr. Ritfon's reply to the objections of Mr. Tyrwhitt, was not only too long to appear in its proper place, but was communicated too late to follow the note on which it was founded. STEEVENS.

Pro. 0, how this fpring of love refembleth, &c. pp. 191, 192, 193.

The learned and refpectable writer of thefe obfervations is now unfortunately no more; but his opinions will not on that account have lefs influence with the readers of Shakspeare: I am therefore .ftill at liberty to enforce the juftice and propriety of my own fentiments, which I truft I fhall be found to do with all poffible delicacy and respect toward the memory and character of the truly ingenious gentleman from whom I have the misfortune to differ. I humbly conceive that, upon a more mature confideration, Mr. Tyrwhitt would have admitted, that, if the propofed method of printing the words in queftion were once proved to be right, it would be of little confequence whether the difcovery had ever been " adopted before," or could be followed in the pronunciation of them, without the help of an entire new fyllem of fpelling:"

[ocr errors]

which, in fact, is the very object I mean to contend for; or rather for a fyftem of spelling, as I am perfectly confident we have none at prefent, or at least I have never been able to find it. We are. not to regard the current or fashionable orthography of the day, as the result of an enquiry into the fubject by men of learning and genius; but rather as the mechanical or capricious efforts of writers and printers to exprefs by letters, according to their ear, the vulgar fpeech of the country, juft as travellers attempt that of the Chickfaws or Cherokees, without the affiftance of grammar, and utterly ignorant or regardless of confiftency, principle, or fyftem. This was the cafe in Caxton's time, when a word was fpelled almost as many different ways as it contained letters, and is no otherwife at this day; and, perhaps, the prejudices of education and habit, even in minds fufficiently expanded aud vigorous on other fubjects, will always prevent a reform, which it were to be wifhed was neceffary to objects of no higher importance. Whether what I call the right method of printing thefe words be "fuch as was never adopted before by any mortal," or not, does not feem of much confequence; for, reasoning from principle and not precedent, I am by no means anxious to avail myfelf of the inconfiftencies of an age in which even scholars were not always agreed in the orthography of their own name: a fufficient number of inftances will, however, occur in the courfe of this note to fhew that the remark was not made with its author's ufual deliberation; which I am the rather difpofed to believe, from his conceiving that this method could not be followed in pronunciation;" fince were it univerfally adopted, pronunciation neither would nor poffibly could be affected by it in any degree whatever. "Fanciful and unfounded" fuppofed canon" may be, I find it laid down in Ben Jonfon's Grammar, which exprefsly fays that "the fecond and third perfon fingular of the prefent are made of the firft by adding eft and eth, which laft is fometimes fhortened into s." And afterward fpeaking of the first conjugation, he tells us that it fetcheth the time paft from the prefent by adding ed." I fhall have reason to think myself peculiarly unfortunate, if, after my hypothefis is allowed in its utmost extent," it will not prove what it was principally formed to do, viz. that Shakspeare has not taken a liberty in extending certain words to fuit the purpose of his metre. But, furely, if I prove that he has only given those words as they ought to be written, I prove the whole of my position, which fhould ceafe, of course, to be termed or confidered an hypothefis. A mathematical problem may, at first fight, appear fanciful and unfounded to the ableft mathematician, but his affent is enfured by its demonftration. I may fafely admit that the words in queftion are "more frequently ufed" by our author's contemporaries, and by himself, "without the additional fyllable;" as this will only fhew that his contemporaries and himself have more fre

too as my

quently" taken the liberty of fhortening those words, than written them at length. Such a word as alarm'd, for inftance, is generally, perhaps conftantly, used by poets as a diffyllable; and yet, if we found it given with its full power a-larm-ed, we should fcarcely fav that the writer had taken the liberty of lengthening it a fyllable. Thus too the word diamond is ufually fpoken as if two fyllables, but it is certainly three, aud is fo properly given by Shakspeare:

[ocr errors]

Sir, I must have that diamond from you.”

Had is now a monofyllable, but did our author therefore take a liberty in writing Hadeft?

"Makes ill deeds done. Hadeft thou not been by."

Not only this word, but mayeft, doeft, doeth, and the like are uniformly printed in the bible as diflyllables. Does Butler, to ferve his thime, fretch out the word brethren in the following pallage?

"And fierce auxiliary men,

"That came to aid their brethren."

Or does he not rather give it, as he found it pronounced, and as it ought to be printed? The word idly is fill more to the purpose: It is at prefent a diffyllable; what it was in Shakspeare's time may appear from his Comedy of Errors, 1623:

"God helpe poore foules how idlely doe they talk:" or, indeed, from any other paffage in that or the next edition, being conftantly printed as a trifyllable. So, again in Spenser's Faery Queene, 1609. 1611;

"Both ftaring fierce, and holding idlely.” And this orthography, which at once illuftrates and fupports my system, appears in Shelton's Don Quixote, Sir T. Smith's Commonwealth, Goulart's Hiftories, Holinfhed's Chronicle, and numberless other books; and confequently proves that the word was not ftretched out by Spenfer to fuit the purpofe of his metre, though I am aware that it is miffpelled idlely in the first edition, which is lefs conealy printed, But the true and established spelling might have led Mr. Seward and Dr. Farmer to a better reading than gentily, in the following line of Beaumont and Fletcher:


"For when the weft wind courts her gently."

Proved, I fuppofe, is rarely found a diffyllable in poetry, if even pronounced as one in profe; but, in the Articles of Religion, Oxford, 1728, it is fpelled and divided after my own heart: whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be prove-ed thereby, &c." The words obfervation and affection are ufually pronounced, the one as confifling of three, the other of four fyllables, but each of them is in reality a fyllable longer, and is fo properly given by our author:

With obfervation, the which he vents:
Yet have I fierce affections, and think."

[ocr errors]

Examples, Indeed, of this nature would be endlefs; I fhall therefore content myfelf with producing one more, from the old ballad of The Children in the Wood:

You that executors be made,

"And overfeers eke."

In this paffage the word overfeers is evidently and properly used as a quadrifyllable; and, in one black letter copy of the ballad, is accurately printed as fuch, overfeeers; which, if Shakspeare's orthography fhould ever be an editor's obje&, may ferve as a guide for the regulation for the following line:

"The high all-feer that I dallied with."


Of the words quoted by Mr. Tyrwhitt, as inftances of the liberty fuppofed to have been taken by Shakspeare, those which I admit to be properly a fyllable fhorter, certainly obtained the fame pro. nunciation in the age of this author which he has annexed to them. Thus country, monfirous, remembrance, affembly, were not only pronounced, in his time, the two first as three, the other as four fyllables, but are fo fill; and the reafon, to borrow Mr. Tyrwhitt's words, must be obvious to every one who can pronounce the language." Henry was not only usually pronounced, (as indeed it is at prefent,) but frequently written as a trifyllable; even in profe. Thus in Dr. Hutton's Difcourfe on the Antiquities of Oxford, at the end of Hearne's Textus Roffenfis, King Henery the eights colledge." upon this fubje&t, Wallifii Grammatica, p. 57. That Mr. Tyrwhitt fhould have treated the words angry, humbler, nobler, used as trifyllables, among thofe which could receive no fupport from the fuppofed canon," must have been owing to the obfcure or imperfe& manner in which I attempted to explain it; as these are, unluckily, fome of the identical inftances which the canon, if a canon it must be, is purposely made to fupport, or rather, by which it is to be fupported: an additional proof that Mr. Tyrwhitt, though he might think it proper to reprobrate my do&rine as "fanciful and unfounded," did not give himself the trouble to underfland it. This canon, in fhort, is nothing but a moft plain and fimple rule of English grammar, which has, in fubftance, at leaft, been repeated over and over: Every word, compounded upon the prin ciples of the English or Saxon language, always preferves its roots unchanged: a rule which, like all others, may be liable to exceptions, but I am aware of none at prefent. Thus humbler and nobler, for inftance, are compofed by the adjectives humble, noble, and er, the fign of the comparative degree; angry, of the noun anger, and y the Saxon adjective termination ig. In the ufe of all the fe, as trifyllables, Shakspeare is moft correct; and that he is no lefs fo in England, which used to be pronounced as three fyllables, and is fo ftill, indeed, by those who do not acquire the pronunciation of their mother tongue from the books of purblind pedants, who


want themselves the inftruction they pretend to give, will be evident from the etymology and divifion of the word, the criteria or touchftones of orthography. Now, let us divide England as we pleafe, or as we can, we fall produce neither its roots nor its meaning; for what can one make of the land of the Engs or the gland of the Exs? but write it as it ought to be written, and divide it as it ought to be divided, En-gle-land, (indeed it will divide itself, for there is no other way) and you will have the fenfe and derivation of the word, as well as the origin of the nation, at first fight'; from the Saxon Engla landa the land or country of the Engles or Angles: just as Scotland, Ireland, Finland, Lapland, which neither ignorance nor pedantry has been able to corrupt, defign the country of the Scot, the Ire the Fin, and the Lap: and yet in spite of all fenfe and reafon, about half the words in the language are in the fame aukward and abfurd predicament, than which nothing can be more diftorted and unnatural; as, I am confident it must have appeared to Mr. Tyrwhitt, had he voluntarily turned his attention that way, actually attempted, what he haftily thought would be very cafy, to fhew that this fuppofed canon was quite fanciful and unfounded; or, in fhort, as it will appear to any perfon, who tries to fubjed the language to the rules of fyllabication, or in plainer English to fpell his words; a task which, however ufeful, and even neceffary, no Dictionary-maker has ever dared to attempt, or, at leaft, found it poffible to execute. Indeed, the fame kind of objection which Mr. Tyrwhitt has made to my fyftem might be, and, no doubt, has, by superficial readers, been frequently made tơ his own, of inferting the final fyllable in the genitives Pencus's, Thefeus's, Venus's, ox's, afs's, St. James's, Thomas's, Wallis's, &c. and printing, as he has done, Peneufes. Thefeufes, Venuses, oxes, afes, St. Jamefes, Thomafes, Wallifes; an innovation neither lefs fingular nor more juft, than the one I am contendiug for, in the conjugation, or ufe in compofition, of refemble, wrestle, whistle, tickle, &c. But, as I am confcious that I burn day-light, fo my readers are probably of opinion that the game is not worth the candle: Ifhall, therefore, take the hint; and, to fhew how much or little one would have occafion, in adopting my system, to deviate from the orthography at present in use, I beg leave, in the few words I add, to introduce that which, as a confiderable easy and lafting improvement, I wish to fee eftablished. Tedious, then, as my note has become, and imperfect as I am obligeed to leave it, I flatter myself I have completely juflifyed this divineeft of authors from the ill founded charge of racking his words, as the tyrant did his captives. I hope too I have, at the fame time, made it appear that there is fomething radically defective and erroneous in the vulgar methods of fpelling, or rather miffpelling; which requires correction. A lexicographer of eminence and abilitys will have it

« FöregåendeFortsätt »