Open main menu

Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 11.djvu/227

This page needs to be proofread.


. XL MARCH 14, 1903.] NOTES AND QUERIES.


219


in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but would scarcely be now understood. Were we writing an essay instead of a notice of a portion of a work, we could find under words such as shake, skedaddle, scrawny, &c., matter for endless com- ment. In commending this work to philologists it must be understood that it is to them and to students alone. Its value as a supplement to established dictionaries is real and high, and there are modern authors of repute the perusal of whose works it will facilitate. For the general reader, and those liable to be aggrieved or shocked by crudity of speech, it is not intended. In our last notice we were able to state that a few subscriptions might be received. Whether this is still the case we know not, but the would-be purchaser may easily ascer- tain this. To judge by what has already appeared, two further volumes should see the completion of the work.

Shakespeare's Plots: a Study in Dramatic Con- struction. By William H. Fleming, A.M. (Put- nam's Sons.)

MB. FLEMING, who is responsible for more than one work on Shakespeare, and has edited three plays for the " Bankside Edition" of his works, is a man of exemplary erudition as well as a devout student of Shakespeare's writings. He has, more- over, mastered the science of criticism, and quotes freely as well as judiciously from previous or con- temporary writers from Aristotle to Amiel. By " resolving the play into its constituent parts, and then following Shakespeare step by step in his con- struction of the drama," he seeks to " preserve the rhetorical perspective, the balance between the minor parts and the plays as complete and perfect Works of dramatic Art." This process is so far successful that an interesting book is the result. We are far, however, from accepting the treatment when applied to Shakespeare as convincing. The days are past when the homage of Milton is any more satisfying than are the misrepresentations and sneers of Voltaire. That Shakespeare is a great artist has, after being long contested, been conceded. When, however, it is attempted to show in his work the borders between the protasis, epitasis, peri- peteia, katabasis, and katastrophy, and demonstrate that Shakespeare conformed to the laws of Aristotle or the practice of the " mighty grave tragedians," we draw rein, and will not accompany our author further in his canter. We concede much that is true, but unimportant. If Shakespeare had intro- duced the witches of ' Macbeth' into his Roman or Italian plays, he would, of course, have made a mistake. In such cases, however, he would have been false to his originals, and would not, in fact, have been Shakespeare. In all that is said about the opening scenes in ' Macbeth,' which is one of the plays treated at length, the acceptance of Mr. Flem- ing's theory means the substitution of method for poetic inspiration. In dealing with ' The Merchant of Venice' Mr. Fleming again and again uses the word " tragic " : " Its dramatic purpose was to fore- shadow the tragic in the play," that is, to fore- shadow nothing. There is no more that is tragic in ' The Merchant of Venice ' than in ' The Two Gentlemen of Verona' or ' As You Like It.' Shake- speare would have been but a mean craftsman instead of an incomparable artist had there been such. Continually we find ourselves in the perusal of the book thinking, What special pleading ! or, What extravagance ! Shakespeare needs no such vindica-


tion or eulogy as is proffered. We own to pleasur- able sensations in reading a book which is the work of a scholar. We are none the less disposed to say of it that there are few things which are not either too simple to need restatement or too fantastic to win acceptance.

Memoirs of Count Orammont. By Count Anthony Hamilton. Edited by Gordon Goodwin. 2 vols. (Bullen.)

IN very pretty and attractive guise Mr. Bullen has issued a convenient and charming edition of Gram- mont's ' Memoirs,' illustrated by one-and-twenty well -executed process portraits. The work, an acknowledged masterpiece, is equally popular in England and in France, and has acquired some added reputation in this country since the attempt of a society now, we believe, extinct to interfere with its publication. During more than a hundred years it has been a favourite book for illustration, and extra -illustrated copies have fetched large prices. The portraits now given are admirably selected, and comprise Hamilton and Grammont, Charles II., the Duke of Monmouth, St. Evre- mond, and the principal among the frail beauties of Charles's Court. There is, after Lely, a new, very pretty, and well decollete portrait of Nell Gwynne, and another, from the same painter, of Moll Davis. Many highly interesting likenesses are drawn, by special permission, from the galleries of the Duke of Buccleuch, and are virtually un- known. One portrait, that of Miss Jennings, is from Althorp. We can fancy reading these sparkling ' Memoirs ' in no pleasanter form. The translation is that by Boyer, edited by Sir Walter Scott. Boyer's work originally appeared, with a nicely rubricated title, in 1714, and is now a very scarce book, as is the original French edition from which it was taken. It differs in many respects from the later editions, including the present. The type is both pretty and legible to old eyes, and the binding and general get - up are excellent. A judicious selection of notes is given by Mr. Goodwin, who also supplies introductory memoirs. If Mr. Good- win would avoid the split infinitive, "to again cite Gibbon" and "to eminently qualify him," we should look upon the edition as ideal.

WE have received with much pleasure the first number of a new quarterly magazine devoted to local history. Its title is the Rutland Magazine and County Historical Record. Judging from the sample before us, it ought to be a success. The paper on Oakham Church is good, but we prefer that entitled ' Some Characteristics of Rutland Churches,' which contains information that will be quite new to many readers. The notes on trades- men's tokens are interesting, but we are sorry to say that the plate in pur copy is so dark that the inscriptions are well-nigh unreadable.

THE Literary Supplement in the Fortnightly Review constitutes not seldom the most interesting portion of its contents. In the March number it is occupied with ' A Man of Honour,' Mr. William Somerset Maugham's clever, but realistic and satirical play of modern life, recently given by the Stage Society. The impression conveyed in reading this conforms with that created by its performance. Dr. A. R. Wallace shows the theological lessons con- veyed in recent astronomical discovery. Mr. J. C. Bailey writes on ' Matthew Arnold's Note-Books,' and commends Arnold's views in favour of reading