« AnteriorContinuar »
Proposed New Readings in Hamlet, Othello and Douglas.
gether." The punctuation, Mr. Editor, should stand thus: in the first place, when Hamlet enters, he is supposed to fold his cloak round him, and to exclaim
"The air bites
This is brief, abrupt, and wonderfully expressive: a pause ensues, in which he begins to reflect upon the scene which is about to take place; but still finding himself unable to master the cold, he peevishly cries out
-shrew me, it is nipping cold.”
You will perceive by this that the original transcribers of the MS. mistook shrew me for shrewdly, and hence the ridiculous error they have fallen into. That Shakespeare intended shrew me I have not a doubt: for if you will take the trouble of looking into the old English and Danish ballads and legends of his time, you will perceive the frequent use of the expression, which is the best foundation for the opinion.
I have always looked upon Othello as a fine drama ; but I must confess there is much error in many of the best passages. When he says, addresssing the Senate at his trial,
"Most potent, grave, and reverend signiors,"
it is evident he means
"Most potent grave!-and reverend signiors!"
for, by this he prepares his mind for the worst, and commences by an appropriate allusion to the fate he must expect from the severity of his judges.
Such, Mr. Editor, is the general spirit of my remarks on the writings of our English bard. I will conclude my paper with the following observation.
The principal beauty of Mr. Home's "Douglas," is the harmony and simplicity of the poetry; but either he did not attend to the punctuation, or the printers have mistaken it: for I find it faulty in many places.
"My name is Norval on the Grampian hills
is invariably delivered wrong: thus they read it:
"My name is Norval; on the Grampian hills
My father feeds his flocks; a frugal swain," &c.
There is something beautiful and prophetic in the first line
when it is read as follows: he is asked who and what he is, and he replies
"My name is Norval on the Grampian hills;”
that is-I have been called Norval among the shepherds on the Grampian hills, where I have been humbly educated, but (it seems to imply as much)-but here, in Lady Randolph's castle, I have another name; thereby mutely laying claim to the title of Douglas, to which he was the sole heir; and then the second line is greatly improved; the apostrophe to his father is natural and affecting-from speaking of himself he reverts to the condition of his friends, and says
"My father feeds his flocks;
How simple this!-it is short and impressive, and we are inclined to believe that nothing can add to its effect, when we meet with the character of his parent, briefly summed up in three words, which conclude the whole in the highest strain of pathos and poetry.
-a frugal swain !”
I trust you will excuse the length I have run into; and I beg you may appreciate the few remarks I have sent you, as nothing but your detestation of false taste, and admiration of true wit, could have induced me to impart them to you. R. F. T. C. D.
Believe me, &c.
We thank our learned Correspondent for his favor. All his proposed readings, with the exception of the last, are, we believe, original. We have inserted them, not from any coincidence of opinion, but because his reasons for their adoption are perhaps given in the usual spirit of criticism, and are equally conclusive as those which influenced many former annotations.-ED.
"O Woman, in our hours of ease
By the light quivering aspen made-
THE female character, as it is usually exhibited in the portraits of common life, was never more happily or more
beautifully described than in the lines which I have selected from Marmion, as a motto for the fifth number of my lucubrations. There are, undoubtedly, many exceptions both to the favorable and unfavorable parts of the picture. Many women are as consistent in their actions, and as rigid in their motives during every stage of existence, as our most boasted philosophers; and certainly in seeking for instances of constancy and pure affection, we must in general confine our researches to the ranks of female beauty and innocence. On the other hand, there are many to whom the latter part of Scott's description are altogether inapplicable. generally suitable delineation of their conduct, faults and virtues, these lines will maintain their ground while there are inhabitants of the human species upon earth.
During the many years which have been granted to my chequered life, I have personally known several instances of the verisimilitude of this portrait. The remainder of this paper shall contain a few anecdotes of one of my youthful friends which are illustrative of its truth.
Those of my present readers who have honored my first appearance in the pages of THE INQUISITOR by their perusal, will recollect that the early stage of my life was spent in a remote corner of Ireland, where want of occupation and general benevolence of disposition rendered me, perhaps, a plague to my honest neighbours, while 1 only intended to have scattered the blessings that fortune had enabled me to bestow. About two miles from the village which was the scene of my early exploits, there resided an elderly gentleman of much larger fortune than I could boast, who, having married in his youthful days, was now a widower. He had an only daughter, heiress to all his numerous possessions, and, of course, the object of general solicitude among all the beaur, (it a technical, and therefore an excusable expression) who were happy enough to enjoy the honor of her father's acquaintance. She was handsome, and her governess, who was a weak, foolish woman, assisted the open flatteries of her admirers, in making her believe herself incomparable. She was richly talented; and this enabled her to add the brilliancies of conversation to the attractions of a fine person and ample fortune. But she foolishly imagined that the adulation which she received from so many was given as a real tribute to herself, while the most casual observer could perceive it originated in the grandeur of her worldly expectations.
Among other gentlemen who visited at her father's abode, I was always ranked as a favored guest; and my readers, when they recollect that I was at that time subject to all the impressions which brilliancy of mind and person could impose on an ardent soul, will hear my acknowledgment of the potency of the lady's charms, without attributing my admi. ration to the sordid considerations of pecuniary interest. In fact, the PHILANTHROPIST was absolutely in love. I had imbibed the dangerous poison (so romance-writers style it) in the course of some conversations with my fair Desdemona; and when at length my anxiety to be ever in the beloved presence revealed to me the hitherto unknown state of my affections, &c. I determined to persevere in my attentions, and endeavor to win her to a mutual declaration.
For some time I believed I had made a considerable progress -no person was so freely admitted-none received with greater welcome. Fancied success animated my exertions to please, and I have since thought the hours I spent in this delusive pursuit were the happiest of my life. I was, however, subject to all the extravagancies of a youthful and foolish lover- I have spent whole nights in parading the terrace-walk under her windows-I have even strained my voice in attempting to serenade her, and I verily believe that my only present ailment, a slight oppression in my lungs, can be traced to no other source than these nightly exertions,
At length when I summoned courage to make a formal disclosure of my sentiments, the lady, by whose encouraging smiles I was induced to do so, affected the utmost astonishment at my presumption, and told me with a grave countenance that she could not entertain a greater interest in my welfare than mere friendly wishes-I retired from her presence cured of my love-fit, and laying all the blame on the inconstancy of woman's temper-though perhaps one-half of it was only due to my own imprudence.
This disappointment conspired with many others of a different nature to render me for a few years an exile from my native shores; but ere my departure I heard that the young lady had married an officer who, though twice discarded, had at length gained her by perseverance and continued assiduity.
When I returned to Ireland, I adopted the scheme which has been the remote cause of this publication, and so completely disguised myself that none of my most intimate acquaintances could recognise me. One morning I went into
a fashionable haberdasher's shop in Grafton-street, for the purpose of procuring a watch-ribbon; and having accepted the shop-keeper's offer to tie it on my watch, I had retired to the further end of the room, and had taken up a newspaper, when a carriage stopped at the door, and a very handsome woman, attended by two gentlemen, entered and demanded some of the numerous articles which the shelves afforded. I immediately recognised her as the object of my youthful desires, and my curiosity rivetted me to the spot. Neither of the gentlemen was her husband, and yet she seemed to be very familiar with one of them, while the other stood idly at the door. I even thought their behaviour could not be warranted by any degree of proper intimacy. He had taken up a shop-bill, and twisted it into a long roll; and while he gazed with a look of languishing softness on her beautiful countenance, he patted her cheek with the paper, exclaiming in accents loud enough to be heard by the most inattentive auditor, "How can you look so charming?-you pretty soul!-you dangerous soul"-to which she only replied with half remonstrances-"Ah! Charles, you're too silly," &c. I could not listen to more--I paid for my watch-ribbon, and looked sternly at her when I was walking out-I believe she knew me, for she started and turned pale.
I thought her depraved.-She had been married for seven or eight years, and had been long a mother; and surely such want of circumspection warranted my conclusion. But shortly after I was undeceived. Her father had left his whole fortune to her, and she thought this entitled her to the disposal of larger sums than her husband's circumstances could well admit, as he was a professed gambler. This produced a coolness between them; and her general affability had made her friend Charles presume too much. She was, in fact, to her husband, as formerly to me, "uncertain, coy, and hard to please;" but the continued extravagance of this foolish pair soon reduced their golden prospects, and bankruptcy recalled them to a sense of their imprudence; their carriage was seized-their furniture sold their house in Stephen's-green exchanged for humble lodgings in a suburb. This was the first trial of adversity which had fallen on them; and it was therefore the first occasion on which her energies were called into action. She supported her own privations without a murmur, and sustained her husband's