Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

* appears by the names in use. Thus Monkey, ** such, the Etymologists tell us, comes from s monkin, monikin, bomunculus.

Baboon, * from Babe, the termination denoting addition and * increment, a large Babe. Mantygre speaks its * original. And when they have brought their fir « nates with them from their native country, as “ Ape, tbe common people have as it were chri

forned them by the addition of Jack-an-Ape.". Ar. W.

Mantygre speaks its original ! This poor critic fpeats bis original in every note be writes, especially if left to himself. Mantiger is the English pronunciation of Mantichora, Mavtoyugas. But not to * grave-Tbe otber is on a passage in King Lear) ASI.

“ Regan. That I profess
Myself an enemy to all other joys,

" Which the most precious square of sense porelles, « Which the most precious square of fenfe pofelles.] « By the square of sense, we are, bere, to understand the four nobler senses, viz. the sight, hear“ ing, taste and smell. For a young Lady could not, with decency, infinuate that she knew of any s pleasures wbich the fifth afforded. This is ima

gined and expressed with great PROPRIETY and ” DELICACY. But the Oxford editor, for square S reads fpirit.” Mr. W.

I cannot

1

I cannot belp bere pausing a little, and refletting on the strange notes, which I have been transcribing.--Yet this Critic, after the utmost acrimony of stile against Mr. Theobald and Sir Thomas Hanmer, thus concludes, They separately possessed those two qualities which, more than any other, have contributed to bring the Art of Criticism into dif

repute, DULNESS OF APPREHENSION, and Ex-. TRAVAGANCE OF CONJECTURE.

I bave spoken very fully of what has contributed to bring the art of criticism into disrepute ; but the want of Scholarship is the original of all. And I could will our Critic, among some few other obfervations, had not thought the following absolutely below his serious notice :

'Twere well if a careful and critical reader would first form to himself some plan, when he enters upon an author deserving a strieter inquiry : if he would consider that originals have a manner always peculiar to themselves ; and not

only a manner, but a language : if he would compare one pasage with another ; for such authors

are the best interpreters of their own meaning : " and would refleet, not only what allowances may be given for obsolete modes of speech, but what a venerable cast this alone often gives a writer. I

i Mr. W.'s preface, p. xiii.

6 omit the previous knowledge in ancient cu66. stoms and manners, in grammar and constru« &tion; the knowledge of these is presupposed ;

to be caught tripping here is an ominous « stumble at the very threshold and entrance

upon criticism ; 'tis ignorance, which no “ guess-work, no divining faculty, however “ ingenious, can atone and commute for."

Had Mr. W. seriously notieed this, he would, as seriously, have laid aside all designs of commencing an editor of Shakespeare : nor would be have gone out of his way to mere his readers, how little he knows of the English, how less of the Latin, how nothing of the Greek languages. He bas z launched forth on the immense ocean of criticism with no compass or card to direct his little {kiff ; and the perhaps he may blind the eyes of the Lefs-observing reader by stealing this man's observations, and by adding a little to another's ; by overrefining on this pasage, and seeking after diftant and far-fetched allusions to other passages : yet all this fig-leave covering will but the more ferve to discover the nakedness of the commentator to the difcerning eye of the real Critic.

2 Critical observations, &c. B. II. $. I,

IX. Whatever

IX.

Wbatever appearances of learning these remarks, which I have now under examination, may put on ; yet being deftitute of the thing itself, they will, from such appearances, be more despised by the real scholar. I have beard it said by Critics, That such a remark is more ingenious tban true. But, for my own part, I know nothing ingenious, but what is frue. Nor can I look on the following in any other light, than as an idle dream

« From off this briar pluck a white rose with me.] This is given as the original of the two 6 badges of tbe house of York and Lancaster, u whether truly or not, is no great matter. But " the proverbial expression of SAYING A THING “ UNDER THE ROSE, I am persuaded, came from " thence. When the nation had ranged itself into two great fa£tions, under the white and red rose, and were perpetually plotting, and counter

plotting against one another, then when a matter

of faction was communicated by either party to his friend in the same quarrel, it was natural

for him to add, that he said it under the rose meaning that, as it concern'd the faction, it was " religiously to be kept secret." Mr. W. (vol. 4.

pag. 465.]

This is ingenious! What pity, that it is not learned too? - The Rose, (as the fables Fay) was the symbol of silence, and consecrated by Cupid to Harpocrates, to conceal the lewd pranks of bis mother. So common a book as Lloyd's diktionary might bave instructed bim in this.

Huic Harpocrati Cupido Veneris fil. parentis fua rofam dedit in munus,

ut scilicet fi quid licentius di&tum, vel ačtum fit in " convivio, sciant tacenda esse omnia. Atque idcirco 6. veteres ad finem convivii sub rosa, Anglicè

under the role, transakta elle omnia ante digref« sum contestabantur ; cujus forma vis eadem esset, atque ifta, Mbow prvé povo cuprétav. Probant « banc rem verfus qui reperiuntur in marmore : “ Eft rosa flos Veneris, cujus quo furta laterent

" Harpocrati matris dona dicavit Amor. • Inde rosam mensis hofpes suspendit amicis,

66 Convivæ ut fub eâ dicta tacenda sciant."

BUT there is scarcely a page, that does not furnijh us with instances of this over-refining humour. 'Tis this, together with a love of paradoxes, that generally misleads him from that plain road, to which plain sense would direct every reader. Who, even of a common understanding, can be mistaken in interpreting the following palage in Macbeth, Aet I. where the Captain is giving an account of the Battle?

" As

« AnteriorContinua »