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correct the old form of the word. But Shakespeare Englished the hero's name for his own purpose, as he did that of the heroine, – Katharina; which, in Italian spelling, would be Catarina. Consistently, therefore, “honorato," instead of “onorato,” “coragio,” instead of “ coraggio,” and other similar words, have been preserved in the form which Shakespeare used, possibly for the sake of rendering them more intelligible to the actors who were to commit them to memory and pronounce them.
The First Folio has been of course adopted as the main guide in ascertaining the text for the present edition ; but though used as a guide, it is not to be followed implicitly, still less exclusively. It contains so many instances of evident errors in transcription and printing, together with so many cases of curtailment for mere stage purposes, that the early Quarto copies are of almost incalculable advantage in verifying and fully establishing the text where they exist; of such plays, for example, as “Romeo and Juliet,” “Hamlet," “Lear,” and others. In the last-named tragedy, were it not for the Quarto copy, we should have lost a large portion of those vigorous things in the second scene of the fourth Act between the indignant Albany and his tiger-natured wife; also, the whole of that beautiful following scene, between Kent and a gentleman, descriptive of Cordelia's receiving the news of her father's ill-treatment by her sisters, is wanting in the Folio. The manager Shakespeare might have cut them out, (if his own doing at all,) not the author Shakespeare. For acting, they might be too long ; but for reading, they are inestimable, as completing the dramatic (dramatic, not theatric) art and beauty of the production. The time may come, when every reader of Shakespeare will be, to a certain extent, his own editor; and the difficulties arising out of the early and original copies almost demand this : meantime, the best thing that an appointed Editor can do, is honestly and conscientiously to set forth the text according to his own belief of what it is, as gathered from such (in many respects imperfect) materials as exist to found it upon. To ascertain, is in some points impossible; the utmost that can be done, is earnestly to examine and weigh,—and then decide as nearly accurately as judgment will enable. The immense difficulty of making up one's mind upon disputed passages,—where frequently so much is to be said on both sides of the question, and where such cogent arguments arise in favour of each different reading,—can only be estimated by those who undertake the task of decision. This difficulty amounts in some cases to the actual retaining of what has been formerly rejected, or rejecting what has been formerly retained; for frequently, that which has struck the mind as bearing an opposite sense, an incompatible sense, or even no sense at all, at one time of consideration, will, at another period, assume a consistent and perfectly distinct meaning, and will therefore be ultimately adopted in preference to the sentence previously taken. As a single instance of what we mean, we would refer to the word “love-feat” in Love's L. L., V. 2; for which we at one time substituted the suggested alteration of “ lovesuit;" but now we perceive the congruity of the term “feat," with the preceding line :
“Their purpose is, to parle, to court, and dance;" and, accordingly, we retain the original Folio expression, “ love-feat."
These anxious deliberations, these conscientious cares on the part of Editors in selecting what they conceive to be the genuine Shakespearian reading in disputed passages,-leading to occasional variance even in their own individual opinions, and to differing actually with themselves,-ought surely to teach diffidence in maintaining their own decisions, and temperance in censuring those of others. Let ShakespeareEditors but take to heart what is taught in every page of the great master they serve, and they will become more and more worthy to be his ushers and exponents.
To read Shakespeare's works even superficially, is entertainment; to linger over them lovingly and admiringly, is enjoyment; to study them profoundly, is wisdom moral and intellectual.
CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE OF
1564. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE born April 23. Eldest son of John
Shakespeare, and Mary Arden his wife. The father was of yeoman rank, and held various offices in the corporation : the mother inherited a small landed estate called Asbyes, and some property in land at Snitterfield. Plague in Strat
ford from June to December. 1 year old, 1565. John Shakespeare elected one of the fourteen aldermen of
Stratford-upon-Avon. 2 ......... 1566. William's brother Gilbert baptized October 13. Here was
an early-sent object to awaken ideas of protecting love in
the two-year-old child. 3 ......... 1567. John Shakespeare in good circumstances; owner of a copy
hold tenement in Henley Street since 1556. Contributed, with others of his borough, towards the relief of the poor
during the visitation of the plague in Stratford in 1564. ......... 1568. John Shakespeare received the highest distinction in the
power of his fellow-townsmen to bestow; being elected Bailiff of Stratford-upon-Avon. He held the office, as was usual, from Michaelmas to Michaelmas; and was, ex officio,
a magistrate. 5 ......... 1569. William's sister Joan baptized April 15; an aunt Joan stand
ing godmother. This was a sister of Mary (Arden) Shake. speare; and had married Edward Lambert. Theatrical
performances in Stratford by “the Queen's Players.” 6 ......... 1570. John Shakespeare was in possession of a field called Ingon
Meadow. Here may Shakespeare have first run about to gather“ daisies pied and violets blue,”—a “boy pursuing
summer butterflies.” .......... 1571. William's sister Anne baptized September 28. Probably his
commencement as “schoolboy, with satchel and shining morning face;" but hardly “creeping like snail unwillingly to school."
8 years old, 1572. The masters of the free grammar-school at Stratford between
1570 and 1578, were, successively, Walter Roche, Thomas Hunt, and Thomas Jenkins. The two former may have been the prototypes of Pinch and Holofernes; the latter,
of Sir Hugh Evans. ......... 1573. William's brother Richard baptized March 11. As his family
increased, so increased John Shakespeare's means of sup
porting them, up to this time. ......... 1574. John Shakespeare purchased of Edmund and Emma Hall,
two freehold houses, with gardens and orchards, in Henley
Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, for the sum of £40. .......... 1575. Gradual declension of John Shakespeare's circumstances in .......... 1576. ......... 1577.)
I the course of these three years.
the ......... 1578. John Shakespeare, at a borough hall meeting, permitted to
pay but 35. 4d. as his share of a levied contribution. Mortgaged his wife's estate of Asbyes. Unable to afford poor
rates; and was left untaxed.
sold their landed property years are the
ter Anne buried April 4. might have been 16 .......... 1580. William's brother Edmund } a student at baptized May 3.
either of the ........ 1581. Theatrical performances in universities, or
Stratford - upon - Avon by one of the inns
During 18 ......... 1582. A “preliminary bond” to the solemnization of these seven
matrimony between William Shakespeare and years Shake-
as a teacher ........ 1583. William Shakespeare's first child, Susanna. I at the grambaptized May 26.
mar-school; 20 ......... 1584. Three companies of actors performed at Strat-|
or as a law. ford. Burbage, Greene, Slye, Heminge, and
yer's clerk. Tooley, were players who came of Warwickshire families; and were probably ac
quaintances of Shakespeare's at this time.
Judith, baptized February 2. His desire to