Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

Nothing so bitter and so good in its way has been seen since the time of Cobbett.

Y friend the director of the New Shakspere Society sends

,

I have much pleasure in printing his letter in the Gentleman's Magazine

In the Prospectus of the New SHAKSPERE Society issued in the autumn of 1873, I said,

“It is surely time that the patent absurdity should cease, of printing 16th and 17th-century plays, for English scholars, in 19th-century spelling. Assuredly the Folio spelling must be nearer SHAKSPERE's than that ; and nothing perpetuates the absurdity (I imagine) but publishers' thinking the old

spelling would make the book sell less." Accordingly, all the editions of Shakspere's single plays issued by the New SHAKSPERE SOCIETY — Romeo and Juliet, by Mr P. A. Daniel ; Henry V., by Mr. W. G. Stone; The Two Noble Kinsmen (? partly Shakspere's), by Mr. Harold Littledale—have kept the spelling of the Quarto or Folio on which they were respectively based. But the handsome Quartos of the Society, with their full Introductions and Notes, cost so much, that most likely all our present Members will be dead before our Society's edition of Shakspere's Plays in old spelling can be completed. Now I, for one, want such an edition, and have long wanted it, every day of my life-a handy, working, clear-type edition, with Acts, Scenes, Lines duly numbered, with Text corrected—though only where such correction is absolutely necessary-so that I may be able (as far as possible) to read and quote Shakspere's words in the spelling in which his contemporaries of Elizabeth's and James I.'s days read them. To see Shakspere's words in Victorian dress is just as offensive to me as it would be to see his bust or picture in Victorian dress. The latter offence, being one against the history of Costume and Art, would meet with such shouts of contempt that it has never yet been tried, and never will be ; but the former offence, being one only against the history of the English Language--which the general reader does not care one brass farthing about-is received with the utmost complacency and approval ; and self-satisfied ignorance even pours scorn on the proposal to familiarise Shakspere-students with the look and spelling of their master's words as they appeared to his contemporaries, and as they are necessary for the due appreciation of his text. For instance, if the Hamlet put into student's hands had always been founded on that Second Quarto which first gave the real play to the world, and by the side of its “dram of eale” (sign. D, back, p. 19), men had always read the line in which devil is twice spelt "deale”_

“The spirit that I haue seene May be a deale, and the deale hath power T áfsume a pleafing shape,”

sign. G (page 42), II. ii. 627-9who can doubt that the parallel deale, devil, eale, evil, would have gone far to settle the meaning of eale, and have spared us nearly all the emendations of that word? Again, if the text of the Tempest had always printed its

"Gon. But the rariety of it is, which is indeed almost beyond credit.

Seb. As many voucht rarieties are.” as the First Folio, p. 6, col. 2, stands, we should surely have been saved the recent

[ocr errors]

assertion that rariety was “Another word indiscoverable in any genuine play of Shakespeare."

MR. HORACE HOWARD FURNESS, the editor of the noble new Variorum edition of Shakspere, has said in his last volume-Lear, Preface, p. vi.

* Happily, the day is fast declining when it is thought necessary to modernise Shakespeare's text. Why should it be modernised? We do not so treat

Spenser. Is SHAKESPEARE's text less sacred ?" Surely as the stage has banished Garrick's long wig and George II. coat and ruffles, in Hamlet, from its boards, we Shakspere-students should turn our absurd Victorian spelling out of Shakspere's text.

I do not say that, for the benefit of people who cannot spell, or whose brains get muddled by old spelling, or to whom it is a hindrance, there should not be a modernised Shakspere always on sale ; but I do say that for folk who can spell, and who know that the English language has a history, with every phase of which they wish to be familiar, a handy working edition of Shakspere in the spelling of his time should be provided. And I am resolved to provide it, for the first time since Shakspere's death.

After many unsuccessful tries to find a Publisher, I have at length found one in Mr. George Bell, who, as an old member of the Philological Society, naturally takes no mere trade view of the proposed edition. But I promised him money. help in it, either from the New Shakspere Society or myself.

He has offered to sell the Society 500 large-paper copies of an old-spelling Shakspere's Works (edited by me, with such help from fellow-workers in the Society as I can get), in the style of his Singer's edition in 8 vols, bound in cloth, for 35s. a copy, to be issued at not more than 2 volumes a year, so as to suit the Society's sunds.

FREDK. J. FURNIVALL

2

F

EW subjects inspire more interest than dreams, and the kind of

relation between the thoughts which are the direct outcome of observation and reflection, and those

That nature

Gives way to in repose. In various journals and other periodicals I have read particulars of dreams showing the kind of divorce from his own individuality, so to speak, of which a sleeper is capable. One case of the kind mentioned some time

ago in the Pall Mall Gazette bore a strong resemblance to a dream of my own, but was, I think, in several ways less remarkable. No apology is necessary for introducing in the case of so impersonal a being as Sylvanus Urban an actual experience, if it may be so called, where it is likely to be of service towards framing psychological theories, however profitless these may remain. In my dream, then, one day I paused at the top of Grosvenor Place, to look at a funeral procession that was turning eastward from that street up Piccadilly. A slight sense of interest was aroused by observing that those within the carriages were my nearest of kin, but this disappeared as I bethought me that the day was that of my own obsequies. Such attention as I was able to pay was directed to the driver of the hearse, who was tormenting the horses in a way that I felt sure would lead to an accident. As I surmised things fell out. The horses, tortured past endurance, broke into a gallop. Piccadilly, in the bright mid-day, was full of carriages, and the driver made the attempt to steer through the opposite gateway into Hyde Park. His effort was successful so far as concerned the horses, but the wheel of the carriage came into collision with the stone-work at the side. As a consequence the inanimate freight was hurled against the door with such force as to carry it off its hinges. The fall which followed broke to pieces the frail shell, and its tenant, in the dismal apparelling of cere-cloth, rolled placidly into the street. I, meanwhile, or

what I felt to be I, had crossed Piccadilly, and gazed upon these proceedings contemptuously—the individual, so to speak, bending over its eidolon. A feeling that this was rather humiliating and indecent treatment arose, but it seemed no concern of mine ; the annoyance could only fall upon my relatives and those in charge of the proceedings. Incuriously, accordingly, and uninterestedly I turned away and the dream ended. For the absolute exactitude of every detail of this grim vision, I pledge myself.

E

VIDENCE that we are only at the commencement of our

knowledge of electricity is daily supplied us. I take no credit to myself that a suggestion, made many months ago in Table Talk, as to the value of the electric light for purposes of illuminating ships has been acted upon in America, since the invention of the electric light must have conveyed similar impressions to all who took the trouble to think. A vessel has now been launched at Chester. U.S., which is fitted with no fewer than one hundred and twenty lights. These are employed for the purposes of signalling and denoting the position of the ship, and for that of illuminating the saloons and the residential portions generally. It seems probable that one of the worst features of a long sea voyage in winter, the gloom that renders difficult all forms of intellectual recreation and condemns the disheartened traveller to hours of sleepless and uncheered misery, may now be remedied. Since so little of danger attends the employment of electric light, there can be no reason to condemn it. Anyone who has passed a sleepless night in the Mediterranean in blank darkness, with rats holding “high jinks” in his cabin, and with “cockroaches" and other nameless abominations swarming over his pillow, is in a position to contribute a new chapter to the "Purgatorio" of Dante.

a

Nor do the advantages already promised by electricity end here. Its use as a locomotive agent may free us from the risk of asphyxia. tion on our underground railways, or may perhaps enable us to substitute for these unsavoury subways, overhead railways such as exist in New York and are in contemplation at Berlin. "Out of heaven's benediction

to the warm sun” is the change which, according to Kent, befalls Lear, A change both more pronounced and more gratifying will attend the substitution of open air for subterranean locomotion.

.

[ocr errors]

EMARKABLE efforts are being made towards removing from

London the reproach of sombre monotony of colour under which it has long laboured. It is not possible to substitute at once for the mean and pitiful structures which degrade our principal thoroughfares, buildings impressive in height and effective in decoration. Still, in many parts of London, and notably in the City, edifices which would not shame a foreign capital have been recently erected. Many of these, moreover, are in such secluded streets that few except those who have business occupations near at hand are aware of their existence. Meanwhile, in addition to the system of window gardening, and the planting of creepers where it is possible, the practice of painting the exterior of houses colours deeper and more effective than the dingy greys and drabs which have long had a monopoly, and which under the influence of rain and soot produce an irresistibly depressing effect, is being pretty frequently adopted. It is not necessary that effort should stop here. I have seen suggestions in the British Architect and other journals by which occupiers and owners may profit. In a time when heresy in art is followed by the kind of anathema which used to be reserved for theological controversy, and when it may almost be said there are more schools of art than artists, it would be worse than rashness for one who is not an expert to venture a recommendation. I am safe, however, in saying that a journey to Holland or Flanders would suggest some modifications and improvement in our exterior decorations. The wish for further advance does not prevent “thankfulness for small mercies.” It is a pity we have so little sun that the erection of ornamental sun-blinds, which in Marseilles and other Southern cities furnishes a superb means of decoration, seems almost an incongruity.

MONG the more remarkable stories which are narrated con

cerning Honoré de Balzac is one to the effect that in the middle of the night he once aroused a friend with the admonition

A

to put on his clothes and come with him to Italy to take possession of an enormous fortune which awaited them. The source of the wealth amounting to millions which they were to garner he declared to exist in the scoria of the silver mines worked by the ancients. So inadequate compared to modern means were the resources of the early miners to express the ore, that there was not, he held, any doubt as to the fortune to be reaped by those who passed once more through the furnace the huge heaps of recrement which, needing no costly machinery, stood in mounds by the side of the disused mines. Balzac profited no more by his brilliant conception than do the majority of discoverers. Without his aid, however, the scheme was carried out to the notable advantage of somebody. It is curious to see that a further application of the same theory is proffered us by Mr. Edison, who, with the aid of electricity, promises to make men rich-some men, that is rich beyond the dreams of avarice, and to realise the wildest imaginings of Trismegistus or any of the Rosicrucians.

THE

question of the Water Supply of London is of enormous

and of growing importance. Now that the idea of purchasing at an extravagant rate the interests of the London Water Companies is, it is to be hoped, dismissed, and the Londoner is to be freed from the fear of having to drink in perpetuity the drainage of all the riparian towns, villages, hamlets, and houses the Thames can boast, it is to be anticipated that the effort to obtain a complete and trustworthy supply will be commenced in earnest. As no supply can be adequate and unfailing except such as is drawn from mountain ranges, it is not likely that the present decade will witness the accomplishment of the task. The magnitude of the operation is a reason for commencing it at once, and not waiting until some attack of pestilence comes to

Spur the jaded sides of our intent. This is but one of many tremendous tasks that is forced upon us. It is no discredit to the sagacity of our ancestors that they did not foresee the development that London was to receive. Longer continuance in the laissez-faire principle which was commenced when England was a sparsely populated country, or of the “ tinkering” schemes that have of late been adopted, is no longer possible. The needs of four million inhabitants are imperative, and the first of all needs is a supply of pure water. When we take into account the drinking habits of the Englishman, we forget the difficulty he experiences in obtaining pure water. Reluctant as is, with just cause, the Londoner to drink water, he is less reluctant than the

« AnkstesnisTęsti »