« AnteriorContinua »
storm at sea, (The Praise of Hemp-seed, p. 65 [second], Workes, ed. 1630), -a description of considerable length, and well worthy of the attention of those who are curious about nautical terms. It is, in all probability, a recollection of what Taylor had himself witnessed; for, in A Funerall Elegie on the Earle of Nottingham (Workes, p. 326), he tells us that he had "both seru'd and sail'd" under that nobleman; and in his Certain Travailes of an uncertain Journey, &c. published in 1653 (when he was "neer seventy five") he says,
"Seven times at sea I serv'd Elizabeth." p. 10.
Though every drop of water swear against it,
And gape at wid'st to glut him. [A confused noise within.] Mercy
We split, we split!—Farewell, my wife and children ! —
Farewell, brother!-We split, we split, we split !·
Ant. Let's all sink with the king.
Seb. Let's take leave of him.
Gon. Now would I give a thousand furlongs of sea for an acre of barren ground; long heath, brown furze, any thing. The wills above be done! but I would fain die a dry death. [Exit."
"This conclusion of Gonzalo's [first] speech is verse to the ear, as well as to the eye, in the folio, 1623, but modern editors have converted it into prose, and so have printed it. Johnson supposed it might be part of the confused noise within.'” COLLIER.
Gentle reader, compare the passionate exclamations, "Mercy on us," &c., with the speech last cited, where all is calmness and self-possession; and you will surely be as much surprised as I am that any modern editor should think of assigning the former to Gonzalo.
SCENE 2.-C. p. 17; K. p. 147.
In few, they hurried us aboard a bark,
Bore us some leagues to sea, where they prepar'd
A rotten carcass of a butt, not rigg'd,
Nor tackle, sail, nor mast; the very rats
Instinctively have quit it: there they hoist us," &c.
"So every ancient edition; but since Rowe's time boat has usually been substituted for butt.' As 'butt' is perfectly intelligible, with reference to the sort of vessel, without tackle, sail, or mast, in which Prospero and Miranda were sent to sea, we retain it." COLLIer.
"Butt is the reading of the original copies. It is clear that we are not justified in adopting the modern substitution of boat. Whether the idea of a wine-butt was literally meant to be conveyed may be questionable; but the word, as it stands in the original, gives us the notion of a vessel even more insecure than the most rotten boat. Mr. Hunter would adopt Butt, (which is the word of the first and second folios, and with a capital) upon the great critical canon of the Durior Lectio præferenda.' KNIGHT.
A BUTT (and perhaps, as Mr. Knight says, a WINE-BUTT) big enough to contain, not only Prospero and his infant daughter, but "food," "fresh water," "rich garments, linens, stuffs, and necessaries," and several "volumes" from Prospero's library!!-it must have been the Great Tun of Heidelberg, borrowed for the occasion. Why did not Mr. Knight insert here a wood-cut of this remarkable vessel? it would have formed a much more interesting illustration than "the barge she rode in," which he gives us in Antony and Cleopatra.
Surely the context is alone sufficient to stave the "butt;" "not rigg'd,
Nor tackle, sail, nor mast;"
(If the vessel in question had really been a BUTT, would Prospero have complained of such deficiencies?-deficiencies which no human ingenuity could have supplied.)
"the very rats
Instinctively have quit it."
(Do those animals live in butts?--The rats "instinctively" had left the boat,—they knew by instinct that it was likely to go to pieces.)
On the words, "Nor tackle, sail, nor mast," Mr. Collier
observes; "See R. Greene's 'Pandosto, or the Triumph of Time,' in Shakespeare's Library, vol. i. p. 18, where he gives an account of the turning adrift of the heroine in a boat having neither saile, nor rudder to guide it;'"-a note which, if it proves any thing, proves that "butt" is not the right reading in The Tempest.
SCENE 2.-C. p. 48; K. p. 176.
"Cal. I pry'thee, let me bring thee where crabs grow;
And I with my long nails will dig thee pig-nuts;
Shew thee a jay's nest, and instruct thee how
To snare the nimble marmozet: I'll bring thee
"It has been doubted whether by 'scamels' (as the word is printed in all the original editions) Shakespeare intended a fish or a bird. Kamm-muschell (as Mr. Thoms observes to me) in German, means a scallop, and hence he supposes scamel' may possibly have been derived: Holt also states, though the assertion may require to be confirmed, that in some parts of England limpets are called scams. On the other hand, Theobald altered scamels' to sea-mells, and that reading Malone followed, on the ground (which is by no means clear) that a sea-mell is a species of gull, which builds its nest in the rock. Under these difficulties we adhere to the old orthography." COLLIER.
"Scamels. This is the word of the original; and we leave it as we find it. The word has been changed into sea-mells, which the commentators tell us is a species of gull. We believe there is no such word as sea-mell, or sea-mall, although there is sea-maw or sea-mew. Mr. Hunter very judiciously observes that the rhythm is destroyed by substituting for scamels a word whose first syllable is long." KNIGHT.
That "scamels" is a misprint, I have not the slightest doubt. That shell-fish were not intended by the corrupted word, is evident from the epithet "young;" for, when the gathering of shell-fish is spoken of, why should young ones be especially mentioned?
Mr. Knight is mistaken in supposing that there is no such word as 66 sea-mall." R. Holme, after describing the SeaMew, has a separate article on "The Sea Mall, the Bill white, but yellow towards the tip, bending towards the point; the feet of a pale green, claws black," &c. Acad. of Armory, 1688, B. ii. p. 262. But though there is undoubtedly such a word as sea-mall, and though perhaps there is also such a word as sea-mell, it by no means follows that "scamels" (without a hyphen and with a single 1) should be a misprint for either "sea-malls" or "sea-mells."
Qy. is the right reading "staniels?" (Our early authors generally spelt staniel what is now written stannyel: of this a dozen examples might easily be adduced.)
In the first place, "staniels" comes very near the trace of the old letters,
Secondly, "staniels" accords well with the context, "from the rock;" for the "Kestrel, Stannel, or Windhover . is one of our most common species [of hawks], especially in the more rocky situations and high cliffs on our coasts, where they breed." Montagu's Ornith. Dict.
Thirdly, in another passage of Shakespeare, where nobody doubts that the genuine reading is staniel (or stannyel), all the old eds. exhibit the gross misprint "stallion;"
"And with what wing the stallion checks at it."
Twelfth-Night, act ii. sc. 5.
SCENE 2.-C. p. 49; K. p. 177.
"Cal. No more dams I'll make for fish;
Nor fetch in firing
Nor scrape trenchering, nor wash dish," &c.
So too Messrs. Malone and Knight! !—
Read "trencher."-That "trenchering" is an error of the printer (or transcriber), occasioned by the preceding words "firing" and "requiring," is beyond a doubt.
SCENE 1.-C. p. 50.
"But these sweet thoughts do even refresh my labours;
Most busy, least when I do it."
"The meaning of this passage seems to have been misunderstood by all the commentators. Ferdinand says that the thoughts of Miranda so refresh his labours, that when he is most busy he seems to feel his toil least. It is printed in the folio, 1623, Most busy lest when I do it,' a trifling error of the press, corrected in the folio, 1632, although Theobald tells us that both the oldest editions read lest. Not catching the poet's meaning, he printed, 'Most busy-less when I do it ;' and his supposed emendation has ever since been taken as the text: even Capell adopted it. I am happy to have Mr. Amyot's concurrence in this restoration." COLLIER.
When Theobald made the emendation, Most busy-less,' he observed, that "the corruption was so very little removed from the truth of the text, that he could not afford to think well of his own sagacity for having discovered it." The correction is, indeed, so obvious, that we may well wonder that it had escaped his predecessors; but we must wonder ten times more that one of his successors, in a blind reverence for the old copy, should re-vitiate the text, and defend a corruption which outrages language, taste, and common sense.
SCENE 3.-C. p. 61.
"Thunder and lightning. Enter ARIEL like a harpy, claps his wings upon the table, and, with a quaint device, the banquet vanishes.” Here Steevens has a long note; but as he appears not to have understood this stage-direction, I may just observe, that the words, "with a quaint device, the banquet vanishes," mean nothing more than that the mechanist of the theatre was to do his best to make it seem that the harpy had devoured the banquet. Compare what Prospero says soon after;
"Bravely the figure of this harpy hast thou
Perform'd, my Ariel; a grace it had, devouring."