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agrees with it.
" - Yonder's Old coil at home"--"Old" is the com- your FOINING fence"-i. e. Thrusting.
mon ancient augmentative: " old coil” means great “ — as we do the minstrels"-i. e. As we bid min
confusion. strels draw their instruments out of their cases.
" — in GUERDON of her wrongs"-"Guerdon," rehe knows how to turn his girdle"-Stevens says ward. that the Irish have an expression corresponding to that
“— virgin knight”—“Diana's knight, or virgin quoted :-“If he is angry, let him tie up his brogues.”
knight,' was the common poetical appellation of virgins He supposes both phrases merely to mean, that the an
in Shakespeare's time. So, in the 'Two Noble Kinsgry man should employ himself till he is in a better
men,' (1634:)— humour. Instances are quoted to show that it was a
O sacred, shadowy, cold, and constant queen, common expression of defiance. Mr. Holt White plau
who to thy female knights, etc." sibly accounts for the origin of the term, by saying that
MALONE. the buckle was usually worn in front of the belt; but,
“ HEAVENLY, HEAVENLY"—We have here, with in wrestling, it was turned behind, in order to give the adversary a fairer grasp at the girdle.
Knight, followed the reading of the folios, in preference
to the quarto, which has—" Heavily, heavily." To “ — Shall I not find a woodcock too"-A jesting allu- utter is here to put out—to eject. Death is expelled sion to the supposed fact that the woodcock has no “heavenly"-by the power of heaven. The passage brains, and is therefore easily caught; alluding to the has evidently reference to the sublime verse in Corinsuccess of the plot against Benedick. The joke is thians." All the other editors have read, “Heavily, common in old plays.
heavily," and understand, with Boswell, “ till death be
spoken of," or, with Stevens, “till songs of death be “* But, soft you; let me be”-Most modern editions
uttered;" and then heavily would be appropriate. The read, “ let be," in opposition to the older, which have,
folio reading seems to me more poetical and probable, “let me be;" meaning merely “let me alone." Let be
and the sense at least as clear. is, however, good old colloquial English for“ Let things be as they are."
“ This same is she"- The old copies give this speech
to Leonato; but, since Theobald, it has been arbitrarily " — INCENSED me to slander"-i. e.“ Incited me. The
assigned to Antonio. word is used in the same sense in RICHARD III, and HENRY VIII."-M. Mason.
“Why, no"-"Stevens rejects the “why,' upon the
old principle of its being “injurious to metre.' When " Art thou the slave”—The folio repeats thou—“Art
Benedick, in the same way, replies to the question of thou, thou, the slave ?" which Knight retains, as ex- Beatrice pressive of passion. It may be right, but it rather
Do not you love me? seems an accidental repetition, such as often occurs.
the Poet throws a spirit and variety into the answer, by The quarto reading is as in our text, and the metre
Troth, no; no more than reason. Hang her an epitaph upon her tomb"-It was the Stevens cuts out the “troth:” the metre (says he) is custom to attach, upon the tomb of celebrated persons, overloaded. It would matter little what Stevens did a written inscription, either in prose or verse, generally with his own edition, but he has furnished the text of in praise of the deceased. (See Bayle, in "Aretin,
every popular edition of Shakespeare extant; and for [Pierre,''] note H.)
this reason we feel it a duty perpetually to protest “ And she alone is heir to both of us”—This appears against his corruptions of the real text."-Knight. to be a lapse of memory in the author, as mention is made, in act i. scene 2, of a son of Antonio.
“- get thee a wife: there is no staff more reverend
than one tipped with horn"--The “staff” is marriage. - was PACKED in all this wrong"- The old copies
Benedick supposes it to be a welcome and respectable have packt, which Collier prints pact, and explains bar
support to so
giddy a thing as man," although he can. gain, or contract; Margaret, one party to the pact,
not avoid a final flout at the “ horn," which forms the being spoken of as the contract itself. We read, with handle of the staff, and an emblem of the destiny all the other editors, “packed,” in the sense retained in
which he has all along attributed to married men.
Wit speaking of a “packed jury," combined, an accomplice,
ness the “recheat in the forehead," etc. To this day, a sense common in SHAKESPEARE; as, “ Were he not
it is common to see old-fashioned sticks, or canes, surpack'd with her,” (COMEDY OF ERRORS ;) “ There's
mounted with horn handles. Stevens and Malone will packing,” etc., (TAMING OF THE SHREW.) Bacon uses
have it, that the allusion is to the baston, or “staff tipped it in the same way.
with horn,” used by combatants in the wager of battle;
but we are not informed how the passage in the text is - God save the foundation"—This was a custom- at all explained by the use of these weapons. ary old phrase with those who received alms at the gates of religious houses.
Coleridge has selected this comedy as affording a - this Lewd fellow'—“Here ólewd' has not the special example of a pervading characteristic of Shakecommon meaning, nor can it be used in the more un- speare's dramas, which distinguishes them from those common sense of ignorant; but rather means knavish, of all other dramatic poets. It is that of the independungracious, naughty, which are the synonymes used
ence of dramatic interest without the plot:with it in explaining the Latin pravus, in dictionaries “ The interest (says he) in the plot is on account of the of the sixteenth century.”_Singer.
characters, not vice verså, as in almost all other writers;
the plot is a mere canvass, and no more. Hence arises SCENE II.
the true justification of the same stratagem being used - I give thee the bucklers"-To “ give the buck
in regard to Benedick and Beatrice-the vanity in each lers” was to yield the victory; by which an enemy ob
being alike. Take away from Much Ado tained his adversary's shield, and retained his own.
Nothing all that which is not indispensable to the plot, The phrase was proverbial.
either as having little to do with it, or, at best, like Dog
berry and his comrades, forced into the service, when “ How pitiful I deserve"- The beginning of an old
any other less ingeniously absurd watchmen and nightballad by William Elderton.
constables would have answered the mere necessities
of the action; take away Benedick, Beatrice, Dogberry, “ An old, an old instance" -The words - an old' are and the reaction of the former on the character of Herorepeated in the quarto, as well as in the folios, for and what will remain ? In other writers the main greater emphasis.
agent of the plot is always the prominent character; in 48
Shakespeare it is so, or is not so, as the character is could I have overlooked you, my Launce, and my in itself calculated, or not calculated, to form the plot. Launce's dog, and my Dogberry? To say that Falstaff Don John is the main-spring of the plot of this play ; makes us forget Dogberry is, as Dogberry himself but he is merely shown, and then withdrawn."
would say, most tolerable and not to be endured. And Among the most original and ingenious of the Shake
yet Shakespeare, after pouncing on this ridiculous prey, speare critics of Germany is Dr. Ulrici, whose “Essay
springs up, forthwith, to high dramatic effect, in making
Claudio, who had mistakenly accused Hero, so repenton Shakespeare's Dramatic Wit, and his Relation to Cal. deron and Goethe" is founded mainly on the idea that
ant as to consentingly marry another woman, her supShakespeare's peculiar and essential difference from
posed cousin, under a veil, which, when it is lifted, disother dramatic poets consists in a view of human life
plays his own vindicated bride, who had been supposed suggested or unfolded by Christian revelation, in oppo.
to have died of grief, but who is now restored to him, sition to one derived from mythological paganism or
like another Alcestis, from the grave. natural reason. The reader will readily acknowledge over iny shoulder, I could not disguise some objections
“At the same time, if Shakespeare were looking a share of truth in this proposition; while, in the bold and unqualified manner in which it is announced, and
to this comedy, which involuntarily strike me as debarthe extent to which it is carried, it has much the air
ring it from ranking among our Poet's most enchanting of paradoxical hypothesis. We are indebted to an ex
dramas. I am on the whole, I trust, a liberal on the cellent paper on Shakespearian literature, in the “ Edin
score of dramatic probability. Our fancy and its faith burgh Review," for 1840, for the following abridgment delighted withal; but, if I may use a vulgar saying, 'a
are no niggards in believing whatsoever they may be of Ulrici's analysis of the comedy before us :
willing horse should not be ridden too hard. Our fan“ Ulrici's theory, as to the leading idea of Much Ado ciful faith is misused when it is spurred and impelled to ABOUT Nothing, is exceedingly ingenious. He con- believe that Don John, without one particle of love for siders the play as a representation of the contrast and Hero, but ont of mere personal spite to Claudio, should contradiction between life, in its real essence, and the contrive the infernal treachery which made the latter aspect which it presents to those who are engaged in its assuredly jealous. Moreover, during one half of the struggle. And this contradiction, he tells us, is set forth play, we have a disagreeable female character in that in an acted commentary on the title of the drama-a of Beatrice. Her portrait, I may be told, is deeply series of incidents which, in themselves neither real drawn, and minutely finished. It is; and so is that of nor strange, nor important, are regarded by the actors Benedick, who is entirely her counterpart, except that as being all these things. The war at the opening, it is he is less disagreeable. But the best-drawn portraits said, begins without reason and ends without result; by the finest masters may be admirable in execution, Don Pedro seems to woo Hero for himself, while he though unpleasant to contemplate, and Beatrice's porgains her for his friend; Benedick and Beatrice, after
trait is in this category. She is a tartar, by Shakecarrying on a merry campaign of words without real | speare's own showing, and, if a natural woman, is not a enmity, are entrapped into marriage without real love; pleasing representative of the sex. In befriending Hero, the leading story rests in a seeming faithlessness, and she almost reconciles us to her, but not entirely; for a its results are a seeming death and funeral, a challenge good heart, that shows itself only on extraordinary ocwhich produces no fighting, and a marriage in which casions, is no sufficient atonement for a bad temper, the bride is a pretender; and the weakness and shadow- which Beatrice evidently shows. The marriage of the iness of human wishes and plans are exposed with yet marriage-hating Benedick and the furiously anti-nuptial more cutting irony in the means that bring about the Beatrice is brought about by a trick. Their friends fortunate catastrophe-an accident in which the unwit- contrive to deceive them into a belief that they love ting agents, headed by Dogberry, the very representa- each other, and partly by vanity-partly by a mutual tive of the idea of the piece, are the lowest and most affection, which had been disguised under the bickerings stupid characters of the whole group. The Poet's of their wit-they have their hands joined, and the conreaders may hesitate in following his speculative critic solations of religion are administered, by the priest who the whole way in this journey to the temple of abstract || marries them, to the unhappy sufferers. truth; but there can be no reasonable doubt that, for a “Mrs. Jameson, in her characters of Shakespeare, long part of it, he has followed the right track. And it concludes with hoping that Beatrice will live happy is interesting to trace how that great rule of the Poet, with Benedick; but I have no such hope; and my final which Coleridge has set down as characteristic of him, anticipation in reading the play is the certainty that his general avoidance of surprises--is here, as elsewhere, Beatrice will provoke her Benedick to give her much made subservient to the immediate purpose."
and just conjugal castigation. She is an odious woman. Campbell's remarks on this play are written in a more Her own cousin says of herworldly spirit, and in a splenetic humour :
Disdain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes, " I fully agree with the admirers of this play in their
Misprizing what they look on--and her wit
Values itself so highly, that to her opinion as to the most of its striking merits. The scene
All matters else seem weak. She cannot love, of the young and guiltless heroine struck speechless by
Nor take no shape nor project of affection, the accusation of her lover, and swooning at the foot of
She is so self-endeared. the nuptial altar, is deeply touching. There is eloquence
“I once knew such a pair; the lady was a perfect in her speechlessness, and we may apply the words,
Beatrice; she railed hypocritically at wedlock before • Ipsa silentia terrent,' amidst the silence of those who
her marriage, and with bitter sincerity after it. She have not the ready courage to defend her, while her
and her Benedick now live apart, but with entire recipfather's harsh and hasty belief of her guilt crowns the
rocity of sentiments, each devoutly wishing that the pathos of her desolation. At this crisis, the exclamation
other may soon pass into a better world. Beatrice is of Beatrice, the sole believer in her innocence, ‘O! on
not to be compared, but contrasted with Rosalind, who my soul, my cousin is belied,' is a relieving and glad is equally witty; but the sparkling sayings of Rosalind voice in the wilderness, which almost reconciles me to Beatrice's otherwise disagreeable character. I agree
are like gems upon her head at court, and like dew.
drops on her bright hair in the woodland forest." also that Shakespeare has, all the while, afforded the means of softening our dismayed compassion for Hero, We extract this last criticism, partly in deference to by our previous knowledge of her innocence, and we Campbell's general exquisite taste and reverent appreare sure that she shall be exculpated. Yet who, but ciation of Shakespeare's genius, and partly as an exShakespeare, could dry our tears of interest for Hero, ample of the manner in which accidental personal assoby so laughable an agent as the immortal Dogberry ? ciations influence taste and opinion. The critical poet I beg pardon for having allowed that Falstaff makes us seems to have unhappily suffered under the caprices or forget all the other comic creations of our Poet. How insolence of some accomplished but fantastical female 7
wit, whose resemblance he thinks he recognizes in Bea- such, we doubt not, was the result shown in the married trice; and then vents the offences of the belle of Edin- life of Beatrice. burgh, or London, upon her prototype of Messina, or The objection to the character of the Bastard John goes more probably of the court of Queen Elizabeth. Those || deeper into the sources of human action. It denies who, without encountering any such unlucky cause of the truth of such a character, for reasons which would personal prejudice, have looked long enough upon the apply also to that of Iago. I wish, for the honour of rapidly passing generations of wits and beauties in the human nature, that the objection were well founded; gay world to have noted their characters as they first and that the Poet had here drawn an unreal characappeared, and subsequently developed themselves in ter, acting from motives such as never influence conduct after life, will pronounce a very different judgment. in real life. But, unhappily, it is not so. Experience Beatrice's faults are such as ordinarily spring from the shows too many instances of the infliction of causeless consciousness of talent and beauty, accompanied with the and bitter injury, without any adequate personal motive, high spirits of youth and health, and the play of a lively | of passion or of interest, to suffer us to doubt the truth fancy. Her brilliant intellectual qualities are associated or probability of John, or Iago. Self-generated envy with strong and generous feelings, high confidence in and hatred, the natural “strong antipathy of bad to female truth and virtue, warm attachment to her friends, good,” the Satanic pleasure of making others feel pangs and quick, undisguised indignation at wrong and injus- similar to those which guilt has made familiar to their tice. There is the rich material, which the experience own breasts, the very gratification derived from the exand the sorrows of maturer life, the affection and the ercise of malignant power, - every one of these has duties of the wife and the mother, can gradually shape | prompted many deeds and plots, surpassing in guilt the into the noblest forms of matronly excellence; and revenge or hatred of ambition, rivalry, or jealousy.