previous next
[290] notes seem not seldom to have been written by a foreigner. On this passage in ‘Comus,’—

I do not think my sister so to seek
Or so unprincipled in virtue's book
And the sweet peace that virtue bosoms ever
As that the single want of light and noise

(Not being in danger, as I trust she is not)
Could stir the constant mood of her calm thoughts,

Mr. Masson tells us, that ‘in very strict construction, not being would cling to want as its substantive; but the phrase passes for the Latin ablative absolute.’ So on the words forestalling night, ‘i. e. anticipating. Forestall is literally to anticipate the market by purchasing goods before they are brought to the stall.’ In the verse

Thou hast immanacled while Heaven sees good,

he explains that ‘while here has the sense of so long as.’ But Mr. Masson's notes on the language are his weakest. He is careful to tell us, for example, ‘that there are instances of the use of shine as a substantive in Spenser, Ben Jonson, and other poets.’ It is but another way of spelling sheen, and if Mr. Masson never heard a shoeblack in the street say, ‘Shall I give you a shine, sir?’ his experience has been singular.1 His

1 But his etymological notes are worse. For example, ‘recreant, renouncing the faith, from the old French recroire, which again is from the mediaeval Latin recredere, to “believe back,” or apostatize.’ This is pure fancy. The word had no such meaning in either language. He derives serenate from sera, and says that parle means treaty, negotiation, though it is the same word as parley, had the same meanings, and was commonly pronounced like it, as in Marlowe's

What, shall we parole with this Christian?

It certainly never meant treaty, though it may have meant negotiation. When it did it implied the meeting face to face of the principals On the verses

And some flowers and some bays
For thy hearse to strew the ways,

he has a note to tell us that hearse is not to be taken ‘in our sense of a carriage for the dead, but in the older sense of a tomb or framework over a tomb,’ though the obvious meaning is ‘to strew the ways for thy hearse.’ How could one do that for a tomb or the framework over it?

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
David Masson (3)
Edmund Spenser (1)
Marlowe (1)
Ben Jonson (1)
Comus (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: