Famous Reviews eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 560 pages of information about Famous Reviews.

The confidence which Mr. Weber reposes in Steevens, not only on one but on every occasion, is quite exemplary:  the name alone operates as a charm, and supersedes all necessity of examining into the truth of his assertions; and he gently reminds those who occasionally venture to question it, that “they are ignorant and superficial critics.”  Vol. ii, p. 256.—­“I have seen Summer go up and down with hot codlings! Mr. Steevens observes that a codling antiently meant an immature apple, and the present passage plainly proves it, as none but immature apples could be had in summer,” all this wisdom is thrown away.  We can assure Mr. Weber, on the authority of Ford himself, that “hot codlings” are not apples, either mature or immature.  Steevens is a dangerous guide for such as do not look well about them.  His errors are specious:  for he was a man of ingenuity:  but he was often wantonly mischievous, and delighted to stumble for the mere gratification of dragging unsuspecting innocents into the mire with him.  He was, in short, the very Puck of commentators....

No writer, in our remembrance, meets with so many “singular words” as the present editor.  He conjectures, however, that unvamp’d means disclosed.  It means not stale, not patched up.  We should have supposed it impossible to miss the sense of so trite an expression....  Mr. Weber’s acquaintance with our dramatic writers extends, as the reader must have observed, very little beyond the indexes of Steevens and Reed.  If he cannot find the word of which he is in quest, in them, he sets it down as an uncommon expression, or a coinage of his author....

These inadvertences, and many others which might be noticed, being chiefly confined to the notes, do not, perhaps, detract much from the value of the text:  we now turn to some of a different kind, which bear hard on the editor, and prove that his want of knowledge is not compensated by any extraordinary degree of attention.  It is not sufficient for Mr. Weber to say that many of the errors which we shall point out are found in the old copy.  It was his duty to reform them.  A facsimile of blunders no one requires.  Modern editions of our old poets are purchased upon the faith of a corrected text:  this is their only claim to notice; and, if defective here, they become at once little better than waste-paper....

There is something extremely capricious in Mr. Weber’s mode of proceeding:  words are tampered with which are necessary to the right understanding of the text, while others, which reduce it to absolute jargon, are left unmolested....

We might carry this part of our examination to an immense extent; but we forbear.  Enough, and more than enough, is done to show that a strict revision of the text is indispensible; and, if it should fall to the lot of the present editor to undertake it, we trust that he will evince somewhat more care than he manifests in the conclusion of the work before us.  It will scarcely be credited that Mr. Weber should travel through such a volume as we have just passed, in quest of errata, and find only one.  “Vol. ii (he says), p. 321, line 12, for satiromastrix read satiromastix!”

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